The quilt top is done and I want to machine quilt my own quilt. What design should I use? It’s so hard to decide sometimes. Let me tell you some of the things that enter into my thinking.
The first consideration is the size of the quilt. I can quilt up to a queen-size quilt on one of my personal sewing machines. But it is hard work to manipulate a large quilt. It’s doable but the less I have to turn the quilt, the easier it will be to quilt.
The size of the area to be quilted plays a big part in the decision, too. For instance, the same feathered wreath in a 6-inch block won’t show off nearly as well as it will in a 12-inch block.
The next item to consider is how much quilting I want to do and if it is a fancy quilt or a utility quilt. Fancy quilts need fancier designs. Utility quilts can be simpler. I consider all the quilts I make utility quilts. I intend for them to be used and enjoyed and washed if needed. That said, I love to do extra-special quilting like feathers and swirls, so my quilts often have fancy quilting.
I begin by stitching in the ditch around every block. Sometimes, I stitch in the ditch around the patches too. Then if I don’t have a plan, I hang my quilt on the design wall and study it and think and imagine.
Simple types of quilting include stitch-in-the-ditch and echo quilting – no marking required. The shape of the block determines where to stitch. (I use the edge of the foot of the machine and adjust the needle position to determine the width of the lines of quilting when I echo quilt.)
Carpe Diem is a combination of stitch-in-the-ditch (in the braid) and echo quilting (in the border) and free-motion stippling (in the sky).
I said those were simple types of quilting but if I have a bed-size quilt, I have to think about needing to turn the quilt. So if there are straight lines that go from one edge of the quilt to the other, those would be good choices. If there are many curves or angles, I need to consider another design.
Another choice is free-motion quilting. Free-motion quilting is easier on a larger quilt because you don’t have to turn the quilt. You can go forward, backward, sideways and any angle you need to go. Gigi did a good job explaining this in her blog post a while back.
Free-motion quilting, mostly just meandering but notice my name in the sashing
Sometimes a motif in the fabric can be followed for a quilting design as I did on the center of this small piece.
My favorite designs are often a combination of straight-line quilting and free-motion work.
I outlined the center nine patch and added feathers to the rest of the block.
Echo quilting around the outside edges and feathers in the center
Another possibility is embroidered quilting. It’s a lovely look and you don’t have to turn the quilt. You will need to be certain the weight and bulk of the quilt don’t interfere with the movement of the embroider unit on your machine.
I like to experiment so it seems I have to go through the whole thought process with every quilt.
I do have a final hint. If you are truly unsure if a quilting design will work, draw it on a piece of clear plastic and lay it over your block. That will help you visualize the final look.
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