When you make a quilt from a pattern, you usually get detailed instructions on everything from cutting to how to assemble the blocks. You even get instructions on how to press your fabrics. But what about the quilting stitches? Do they tell you how to quilt the fabric, or even how to put it all together? Not usually. They assume we all know the next steps.
Well if you’re an experienced quilter, then you know what to do next. But for the beginner it is a little more complicated. Let me see if I can shed a little light on the subject.
As a self taught quilter, I was very proud of my first quilt. Well it was really only the quilt top. Little did I know that to make it a quilt there was still so much more to do. Putting the backing and batting in seems simple enough. Even basting the layers together went pretty well. But now I needed to quilt it. I really had no idea what to do next. Here are a few questions to consider before moving on.
The following information was taken from the book “Complete Guide to Quilting” from Better Homes and Gardens.
1) Am I making this to be an heirloom quilt, to be passed on from generation to generation? Then elaborate designs with intricate details would be something to consider. If not, try simple quilting designs that are easy to complete.
2) Is this quilt going to be laundered often? Then I would probably machine quilt it for more durability.
3) How much time do I have to complete it? Save the intricate hand quilting designs for quilts that you don’t have to rush to complete. If you have limited time and still want to hand quilt, then remember to keep the designs simple.
4) What do you prefer to do? Hand quilt or Machine quilt. You will be more inclined to complete the project if you’re doing something you enjoy.
5) Do I want my quilting stitches to be visible in the quilt top? Whether by machine or by hand, save intricate, close quilting for projects that will showcase the stitching, and more basic designs for those with busier fabrics and more pieces where it’s likely the quilting stitches won’t show.
6) Does this quilt have a traditional, folk art, contemporary mood? Sometimes the feel of a quilt will drive the quilting design. For example, a traditional quilt may call for a feathered wreath design, but a folk art quilt may look best with big stitches quilted in pearl cotton thread.
The next step is finding your inspiration. Don’t limit yourself to pre-cut stencils, and templates or books of quilting designs, although these are great places to start. There are so many other ways to get your design.
One way is to think about the theme of the quilt. For example, if you’re making a Christmas quilt, consider holiday related items, like ornaments, or strings of lights, trees, holly, garland, mittens, snowflakes, etc.
· A round ornament could be stitched as a simple circle, for instance. A wavy line could represent garland in a narrow border.
· Look to the fabric for more inspiration. Is there a simple shape or motif in one of the fabrics, like a leaf, or flower that could work as a design?
· Even household items, such as picture frames, jewelry, and kitchen tiles, can produce quilting design ideas. The bubbles in an aquarium, for example, may suggest the perfect pattern for a goldfish quilt.
Remember this is only one quilt, and there will be many more to make. So have fun, and keep looking for your inspiration it is all around you. Now you are truly free to “Quilt as desired”.