This technique is not difficult, but it's trickier than some, so I recommend it for quilters who are already confident free motion quilting with a meandering stitch.
For the loopy flower quilting, set your machine up the same way you would for any other kind of free motion quilting (lowering or covering feed dogs, setting stitch length to zero, etc.).
If your machine has an automatic needle down function, engage it. If your machine doesn't have this function, be sure to manually lower your needle every time you stop quilting.
Start where you want the center of your the flower. Pull the bobbin thread to the top.
Hold thread tails and begin quilting. Sew several stitches in place to secure threads and then move clockwise, in a circle, about an inch in diameter. Once you've reached the opposite side of the circle, stop and trim loose threads.
Continue stitching around circle two or three times. As much as possible, your stitches should be very close to, but not directly on top of, one another. (The goal is to replicate the look of someone quickly drawing the shape on paper.)
Moving out from the center, still in a clockwise motion, stitch a rounded petal, as shown above.
Continue around the center circle, stitching as many petals as you like and ending at the point on the center circle where you started.
Having tried several variations, I find that I prefer the look of flowers with six petals.
Stitch around the flower, echoing the shape of the petals, as shown above. Note how the stitches echoing the tips of the petals are further away than the stitches between the petals, which are right on top of one another.
Stitch around the petals a third and final time, continuing to stitch over the same area in the spaces between the petals. Note the placement of the needle in the above photo. While I continued to dip in toward the center and stitch over the same area, I did not go all the way to the center each time.
Once you're finished, make several stitches in place to secure threads and trim. (Each flower is a complete and separate unit.)
Inspect the back of your quilting to make sure your stitches look good on the back too. I found that, to get a good stitch, I had to set my tension thread slightly higher than normal for this technique.
Your flowers will vary in size depending on the size of your echoed petals. I found that most of mine were between 7" and 8" across.
When working on a quilt, I suggest starting at or near the center. Remove enough pins to quilt an entire flower without stopping to remove any.
When quilting over a regular patchwork pattern like this one, I prefer to offset the flowers, rather than centering them over certain parts of the piecing. I just think it give a more interesting, less fussy look.
My flowers were placed semi-randomly, as I worked. However, whenever I started a new flower, I imagined an equilateral triangle placed over every three adjacent flowers. My goal was to place the flowers so that the points of this imaginary triangle would align with the centers of the three flowers.
Along the sides of my quilt, I stitched additional petals to give the appearance of flowers that continued off the edges of the quilt.
I love the summery look of the finished quilting!
When you're finished, examine your quilt back for any missed threads. Because of all the starting and stopping, you'll likely have to do a little cleanup, but the finished quilt back should have a nice, wavy texture, like the quilt top shown above.