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Choosing quilting designs for your quilt.

There are so many quilting designs, how do you choose?

We’re going to look at this from 2 angles, you doing the quilting yourself, and seeing a longarm quilter.

Either way these are some questions to get your mind ticking over.

  • Who is the quilt for? Aunt Nancy might love a floral design, Uncle Bob might be into fishing, Cousin Susie may be really into geometrics, Nephew Jack might end up using his quilt as a blanket fort at some point. Considering who and how they might use it can guide the quilting design choice.
  • What is your time frame? If you have plenty of time you may choose a more involved design than if you have a tight deadline and need to simplify the quilting.
  • What thread colour? Matching or contrasting.
  • Budget? This may come into play if you are keen to use a special thread and need a lot of it, or if you are considering custom quilting by a professional.

These questions can help us form an idea of the quilting we could put on a quilt. Often a quilt is an item to be loved and used and so our quilting can be sufficient to enhance but not so much that we would be horrified that Jack is making a blanket fort from his quilt.

Sometimes knowing what you don’t like can be helpful as well. If you are struggling with design ideas, that may be the place to start. Want to see lime thread on your quilt? Maybe not. Really not keen on paisley? Steer away from designs with that shape.

DIY (or should that be QIY)

Choose 2 or 3

Using the blocks as a quilting guide for shapes is always fun. A great idea to work with is to combine a 2 or 3 design elements and repeat them over the quilt top, varying the size and/or placement of the designs. This is especially useful with a sampler style quilt where each block is different. The quilting can then add to the cohesiveness of your quilt.

I would suggest a blank notepad and a pencil and draw your block or applique, then audition some design ideas until you are happy with the effect. Keep in mind your recipient, the effect you want to achieve, and your skillset and timeframe. Keep that blank notepad handy so you can doodle whenever the quilting inspiration strikes. Keep these pages for future ideas. The picture below show you 4 variation for a 9 patch block. The asterisk is the start point for quilting the block. You could alternate each block with these or add your own detail to the design.

In the picure below, you can see straight lines, which echo the frames of the blocks and then the triangles as well. In some pieces there are more straight lines. The blocks themselves are reasonably simply quilted with the background being quilted more densely which in turn shows off the blocks and their bright colours.

Quilt is Angie Wilson’s version of Gyspy Wife by Jen Kingwell

Texture to enjoy

Ignoring the piecing and seams can create some great effects. You can add texture with your quilting and enjoy the secondary ‘layer’ to your quilt. This can be considered boring quilting, but the effect can be good. The picture below shows straight line quilting at 1/4 inch spacing in a 100wt silver grey thread which is quite fine.

Straight lines can create texture.

Longarm quilting service

Taking your quilts to a longarm quilter can mean a large variety of patterns to choose from and often the ability to continue a theme of your quilt.

Your LA quilter will be able to help you decide by asking you questions similar to the ones above to discern your wishes. Always ask for the options you have for quilting designs and styles.

Pantograph quilting

The quilt below was quilted with a design called Flander’s Poppies by Lorien Quilting and suited the theme of the quilt extremely well. It’s not a bold thread colour but supports the fabric choices without overpowering the darker ones. The backing was another piece of poppy fabric. So the choice was obvious.

Flanders Poppies pantograph quilted
Flanders Poppies by Lorien Quilting

There are literally thousands of patterns available as a pantograph or edge to edge design, and pretty much any quilt can be quilted using a pantograph.

Some quilts just cry out for some special treatment but this is entirely up to you, remember, it’s your quilt.

Custom Quilting

Custom quilting is where the quilting is designed for your quilt, to help show off the piecing or layout. A discussion of the above questions is a great place to start when visiting a professional quilter. You would probably not do custom work on a quilt that’s likely to be used as a blanket fort.

So keeping in mind the design theory of choosing 2 or 3, lets consider the picture below. I have a couple more design elements but the all work together. This picture is of the back of the quilt because you can more clearly see the quilting. Designs elements include, circles (pebbling), 2 types of swirls, and an echoed circle. These designs fill the background around the flower design that you can see outlined.

A client’s quilt, from the back

Back to School Blog Hop

Many thanks to the lovely Sam at Hunters Design Studio who has arranged for a fantastic group of creatives to share their knowledge with everyone. The Back to School Blog Hop is all about building skills and encouraging you to have a go.

Here’s the team and their topics:

Day 1 – September 1 – Sam Hunter: Sewing Long Seams Without Stretching – huntersdesignstudio.com

Day 2 – September 2 – Susan Arnold – Joining Binding the Easy Way – quiltfabrication.com

Day 3 – September 3 – Angie Wilson – Fussy cutting tips and techniques – www.gnomeangel.com

Day 4 – September 4 – Andi Stanfield – No-Mark HST: Let your machine be your guide – truebluequilts.com/blog/

Day 5 – September 5 – Bobbie Gentili – Say YES to Y-seams – geekybobbin.com

Day 6 – September 6 – Mel Beach – 5 Reasons to Say Woo Hoo! to School Glue – pieceloveandhappiness.blogspot.com

Day 7 – September 7 – Laura Piland – 7 Ways to Use a Laser on Your Sewing Machine – www.sliceofpiquilts.com

Day 8 – September 8 – Suzy Webster – How to solve loops in free motion quilting – www.websterquilt.com

Day 9 – September 9 – Tara Miller – Accurate Stitch-and-Flip Corners – quiltdistrict.com

Day 10 – September 10 – Latifah Saafir – Accurate Seams Using Masking Tape! – latifahsaafirstudios.com

Day 11 – September 11 – Sarah Ruiz – The Magic of Glue Basting – saroy.net

Day 12 – September 12 – Jen Shaffer – Ways to stop your ruler from slipping while cutting – patternsbyjen.blogspot.com

Day 13 – September 13 – Cheryl Sleboda – Basics of ruching (a vintage fabric manipulation technique) – muppin.com

Day 14 – September 14 – Raylee Bielenberg – Choosing quilting designs for your quilt – www.sunflowerstitcheries.com

Day 15 – September 15 – Jen Strauser – Accurate and Attractive Machine binding – dizzyquilter.com

Day 16 – September 16 – Jane Davidson – Matching points for all types of intersections – quiltjane.com

Day 17 – September 17 – Teresa Coates – Starch and starch alternatives – teresacoates.com

Day 18 – September 18 – Jen Frost – Benefits of spray basting – faithandfabricdesign.com

Day 19 – September 19 – Sandra Starley – Getting started with Hand Quilting – utahquiltappraiser.blogspot.com

Day 20 – September 20 – Karen Platt – Drunkard’s Path Made Easy – karenplatt.co.uk/blog/

Day 21 – September 21 – Kris Driessen – All Kinds of Square (in a Square) – scrapdash.com

Day 22 – September 22 – Sarah Goer – Planned Improv Piecing – sarahgoerquilts.com

Day 23 – September 23 – Kathy Bruckman – Organizing kits for on-the-go sewing – kathyskwiltsandmore.blogspot.com

Day 24 – September 24 – Cheryl Daines Brown – The Secret to Flat Quilt Tops: Borders – quilterchic.com

Day 25 – September 25 – Cherry Guidry – Pre-assembling fusible applique – cherryblossomsquilting.com

Day 26 – September 26 – Laura Chaney – Getting started with English Paper Piecing – prairiesewnstudios.com

Day 27 – September 27 – Ebony Love – Cutting Bias Strips from a Rectangle – lovebugstudios.com

Day 28 – September 28 – Tammy Silvers – Working with heavier weight threads in your machine – tamarinis.typepad.com

Day 29 – September 29 – Kathy Nutley – Create a perfect facing or frame with 90 degree angles – quiltingsbykathy.com

Day 30 – September 3 – Joanne Harris – Using Leaders and Enders – quiltsbyjoanne.blogspot.com

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One Comment

  1. I just found this site and I am so excited….I am a beginner….I have only made 3 baby quilts, and did the stitch in the ditch….I am working on a ” around the world” topper, and was trying to do the stitch in the ditch again…..I can NOT sew a STRAIGHT line. It looks awful..if I go slow or faster it looks like a drunk sailor did it…now I feel like I shouldn’t even do any more…I am always reading books, magazines. Web sites about quilting. Any advice on how to keep my lines straight?… the quilt is for my daughter..I love your site and will be visiting often…I am going to learn a lot.. Thank you.


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