QUILT AS DESIRED….Deciding how to quilt a quilt

When I first began to learn how to quilt, I bought several books to teach myself ideas, techniques, and some basics about design and color.  My first year I made some of the quilts shown in the books to practice skills.  I always came to the end of the quilt “how to” directions and encountered the oft repeated phrase “Quilt as Desired”.  YIKES!  What does that mean?!  So, then I bought some books on machine quilting.  And I spent hours with Leah Day’s website with over 400 different free motion designs.  I made samplers with different designs which hang on my studio wall for inspiration.  And yet….I often look at a new art quilt and again ponder how to quilt it.

I’m going to do a series of blog posts to start off 2016 about how I make these decisions, sharing examples.  Deciding “how to quilt a quilt” is as important as the design and piecing of the art quilt.  I think quilt stitching for art quilts is a further challenge because the spaces we are quilting are not square.  Often designs for free motion quilting are shown in a neat square which is the basis for traditional quilts.  My contemporary art quilts have more open spaces, or pieced backgrounds, basically anything BUT a square patch upon which to design quilt stitching.  My overall goal with the quilt stitching is to enhance the design, not just secure the quilt top to the backing.

IMG_7689Here is an example of selecting free motion stitching to create texture and define portions of the quilt.  This quilt has similar colors in much of the quilt so I wanted stitching to help define the different parts of the flower IMG_7690petals.  I used a check board pattern for the center of the flower, a straight stitch for the white part and a curved loop within loop for a patterned part.  I also decided not to even quilt the peach/rust sliver beside the white section.  By not quilting it, this gave the quilt a bit more three dimension.  In the second photo you can see I used a scallop design in one color and a curved onion design in the other darker purple.  Finally, I did a loopy stippling for the background

Often I see a stitch design I like but then I must modify it a bit to work in a quilt.  Free motion stitches are limited only by our imagination.

Equally important to the stitch design is the thread color.  I chose blending threads for all parts of this quilt except the medium purple (scallops) where I wanted the stitching to be more visible, again to give texture and depth to the quilt.  I change thread colors frequently on most quilts if it enhances the design.




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