McTavish Quilting Studio
& Fabrics

The art of mctavishing:
a free motion machine quilting technique

Watch the art of mctavishing: a free-motion quilting technique trailer, above

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In this one-hour course Karen McTavish teaches the "McTavishing" quilting technique she created. McTavishing is a free-motion background fill quilting technique that features free-flowing lines and shapes. It adds motion and texture to quilts. McTavishing is an alternative to stippling.

You can add McTavishing to any quilt or garment, from wholecloth to contemporary art quilts. The technique works with a longarm or domestic machine, or even with hand quilting.

Much of this course material was originally published as a companion DVD to the Mastering the Art of McTavishing, 2nd Edition, a print book published in 2014 in collaboration with On-Word Bound Books. That book, which sold 89,000 copies, is out of print and unavailable.


about mctavishing

Influenced by her experience with continuous line drawing, Karen McTavish created the McTavishing technique inspired by the flowing, organic line style in the drawings of Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha. The effect was electric on the quilting community and in judged competition.

from Karen

I enjoy the freedom of the meandering lines and the ebb and flow of McTavishing,” says Karen. “The technique gives me the ability to travel all over the quilt without stopping and tying off. I enjoy backtracking and it feels good to cheat a little, quilting without stops and sneaking around the quilt to get to the next open space that needs quilting.

Even if you are new to this type of hand-guided free-motion quilting, this course is a great place to start. You'll see how to improvise as you work, and how to develop your own approach and adaptations.

what you learn

The course teaches the free-motion McTavishing quilting technique on longarm and domestic machines.

related footage

slow train series: mctavishing is an extended close-up look as Karen applies McTavishing to traditional, appliqué, and modern quilt blocks. You can see the rhythm of the work and study Karen's approach.

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detailed look at video contents

notes about the video

Much of this material was originally published as a companion DVD to the “Mastering the Art of McTavishing, 2nd Edition,” a print book published in 2014. That the book is out of print and unavailable.


We extend appreciation and acknowledgement to all the quilters and others who gave permission to use their work in this project:

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