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Tips for Deciding on a Quilting Design

Nov 21st 2019

The advice below is from Free Motion Quilting with Angela Walters— the perfect tips to inspire you to try something new! Hey P.S. Scroll to the bottom of the post for a giveaway.

We have all been there—stuck staring at a quilt with no clue how to quilt it. Here are a few tips to help get you going.

  • „Determine whether there is a “background” to the quilt. If you are quilting a busy quilt with a lot of pieces, it might help to determine whether there is a background that you can quilt with the same design. If so, you will only need to figure out how you want to quilt the shapes in the foreground.

When quilting Mod Bars, the first thing I did was find the background of the quilt. After I determined that the gray Modfabric would be the background, I quilted the same design on all of the gray pieces. Quilting the background of the quilt in the same way helped to emphasize the rest of the piecing. A quilt might not have a background, but when it does, use it to your advantage.

  • Ask yourself, “What is the most important thing about this quilt?” The most important thing about your quilt could be the fabric, the pattern, the piecing, or the fact that it is for a special little boy who will drag it through the mud countless times. When you have established what’s most important, you can use the quilting to highlight it. If the most important thing is the fabric, custom quilt the blocks to feature the fabric. When you want people to notice the quilt pattern first, emphasize the shapes of the pattern. If you know it will get lots of love and washing, quilt it more densely. When you are able to verbalize the main point of the quilt, choosing a design may be easier.
  • „Determine the style of quilting you want. Think about your favorite quilting designs. Do you prefer swirly, flowery designs? Or are geometric designs your favorite? Deciding on a style of quilting will narrow down the number of designs to choose from.
  • Start with something. Sometimes, you have to start quilting to get your creative juices flowing. If you know how you are going to quilt some of it, go ahead and get started. More often than not, inspiration will strike. Many times I have started quilting a certain design only to change my mind.
  • Look to the quilt for inspiration. All the inspiration you can ever need is right in front of you. Look at the fabric and the pattern for ideas. You may see a floral design you can use, or perhaps you can quilt shapes that look like the blocks in the quilt. The best quilting complements the quilt top. Taking your quilting designs from the quilt top will definitely complement the quilt.
  • Sleep on it. The brain works in mysterious ways. Have you ever had a thought pop in your head at a random time? Quilting inspiration works the same way; so if you can’t decide how to quilt it, just take a break. At the very least, it will justify starting a new project!
  • Change the scale. You may love a certain design, but you aren’t sure it would look good in your quilt. Try quilting it smaller (or larger) than you normally would. You also can try using different sizes of the same design within the quilt.

When quilting Brother’s and Sister’s, I quilted the same design in different sizes. I quilted the pebbles smaller at the top and larger at the bottom. This is a great way to jazz up the background of a quilt, and it can add a lot of texture as well.

  • Combine designs. If you can’t decide between two designs, try combining them. It may take a little more thought, but chances are you will end up with something that works out perfectly for your quilt.
  • Use designs in different ways. Don’t let yourself get stuck thinking that a design can be used only in a certain way. For example, designs that you may consider only for allovers can easily be used to fill borders and sashing.

Giveaway now closed. 

Order Free Motion Quilting with Angela Walters here! 


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