Carla Tip: Quilting Design

Here is a good tip for beginning to intermediate freehand machine quilters:   Look for creative ways to fill blocks and spaces evenly by expanding the motif or fabric design into the blank space.

I was thinking about this today as I was quilting a Japanese theme quilt.  I had a kimono block to design, and I was pondering all the options I had to quilt the space:  1) I could quilt a unique fill in the space, 2) I could use bits and parts of a stencil, 3) borrow a texture quilting used elsewhere in the quilt, or 4) quilt the space by quilting along the fabric design.

Since this is a special memory quilt and the antique kimono fabric was fussy cut, I decided to go with #4 and quilt along with the fabric design.  Here is the first block:

Notice how I quilted in faux branches  to fill the space more evenly?    This next block uses different fabric, so I needed to custom fill the blank spaces with a different quilting lines and design:

Look closely to see that I quilted in faux cherry blossoms and branches, also a butterfly.   By quilting it this way, it makes the blocks more interesting- in addition to filling the space more evenly.

For uniformity, I designed and quilted the green and orange parts of the blocks the same throughout the quilt.  This design frames the block nicely and provide interesting texture.

Note that I still need to SID around both the square block and the kimono to finish and polish the block.  I do this as a last step.

Thanks to Barb (and Sally) for letting me use their quilt to illustrate this tip.  I do hope I have described it adequately for you.  Be sure to post a question if you have one.   Regards, Carla

19 thoughts on “Carla Tip: Quilting Design

  1. No questions, just WOW!!

    Love what you did.Sometimes it can be tricky to come up with a background filler that suits the fabric or quilt design….but you hit the nail on the head.

  2. Thank you! I am quilting the background texture on this quilt now, then I do all my stitch in the ditch. I am working hard to finish it in time and before my surgery.

  3. You decision to quilt the kimonos as you did is perfect and so fitting for them. It takes a pretty ‘block’ and makes it elegant. I don’t know how it could be done any better. WOW!

  4. Questions: If you SID after all the other quilting is done, does that make it harder to keep the SID straight? I was told to SID before to stabilize the areas involved? Your thoughts? Love your quilting designs!!

    • Hi Lisa, the decision to SID before or after is based on several factors: sit down vs stand up quilting? What is the quilter’s comfort for controlling the quilt sandwich, how were they taught? etc.

      I use a longarm or stand up quilting machine, and I have always SID last. Many stand up quilters SID first to stabilize as this is how they were taught. I prefer to do it as a last step, and my customers can attest to how well I control the quilt and how the finished quilt hangs in shows.

      I find it easy to SID as a last step. Sometimes I freehand ditch, and I do stay in the ditch, but most time I use my favorite ruler for this step. (Just google “Accent’s in Design” for Carol’s Fine Line rulers with finger grips)

      In order to SID last, the quilter must know how to quilt a quilt, while maintaining excellent control with the quilt layers, and have the quilt hang straight for shows.

      Besides using Fine Line rulers, I also recommend a metal extended base called “RulerMate.” Just google the name to locate Donita’s website.

      Hope this helps you to understand what I do.

  5. Thanks so much for the info. I have a longarm and mostly freehand ditch. I’m trying to get better at using rulers and tools, but just haven’t practiced enough yet I suppose. So I’ll look into your product recommendations and see where that leads. I will definitely try your method and see how I do! This year my goal is to expand my template, tool, and technique knowledge! Thank you so much for your speedy reply!

    • Lisa, I understand completely!! For my first 2 years quilting, I tried to stay far, far away from ruler work and SID. Finally, as I began to get more and more show type quilts, I knew I needed to force myself to learn. I am glad I did. Looking back, I feel it made me a better quilter overall.

      Try loading an inexpensive piece of plain cotton, then go for it! You can also pre-mark lines and block shapes, too, on your practice piece. Good luck!

    • Hi Jenny, No, I do not. The quilt needs to be stabilized first before you can quilt with a sit down system.

      I answered this question for the readers, as you know I defer sit down quilting questions to you, m’dear!! LOL (Note for readers: Jenny Lyon is an artist extraordinaire quilting with a sit down machine)

  6. One of the largest quilts I’ve ever made — 108×112″ and the first quilt Carla quilted for me — hung so straight and even — I was so impressed and of course the quilting was fabulous as always. My hat is off to you Carla.

    And Jenny — your quilting is fabulous too!!

  7. Wow Carla…this is going to be another stunning quilt….I love anything oriental…your quilting will only make it even more special!

    Best Wishes
    Kay in Scotland

  8. Beautiful quilting as usual, Carla! And thanks for the tips about SID at the end of the project. Good luck with the surgery next week. Hugs………..

  9. Carla, you do beautiful work! I love to go back several times and look at your work. I have become a better quilted because of you! On this kimono quilt, what type of batting did you use? Thanks! Laurissa

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