Designing Quilts- Jill’s Applique Quilt

Jill Applique quilt "Before"

Jill Applique quilt “Before”

Thought I would begin a new series on designing quilts for machine quilters, so let’s start with a lovely applique quilt by my friend, Jill.  Jill Rixman, the owner/teacher of the applique pattern business called Artfully Applique, is truly a master applique artist.  She needed a quilt to showcase patterns for sell in her booth at quilt shows, so she brought her quilt to me.

When I first started quilting over 10 years ago, Jill came to me with the first quilt that I quilted for her.  That quilt still hangs in her booth, receives many compliments for her and apparently, sells many patterns.  As a machine quilter, the  first topic to consider is the purpose of the quilt- which in this instance is to sell Jill’s applique patterns.

In keeping with my 2014 goal of drawing (and then digitizing) custom designs for every quilt I work on, I first needed to divide up the quilt into distinct design spaces.  For Jill’s quilt, this was simple.  You have 2 sizes of applique blocks, the inner circle and the negative space between the circle and block.  Then you have the  background fabric space, which will be further divided for interest and to draw the eye inward towards the center.

Let’s start with the center block, which is the focal point of this quilt. Here is my design choice for the center block outside of the circle:

carlablock2jilljillframe2 copy

Since this is my main design, all the other designs in the quilt will relate to this design to ensure quilting design cohesion.

Jill has chosen my circular fill for the inside of each circle and around the applique.  I gave Jill several fill options and this is the one she prefers.  Let’s move onto the small applique block design now.

For the smaller blocks, I wanted to design something similar, yet able to fit inside the smaller dimensions.  This is what I eventually came up with:

carlablock1jillNotice that both designs frame the applique circles.  By choosing to quilt frame designs in the block, this showcases the importance of the applique work.  I will also pick a thread color that will blend into the lighter spaces.  This is because I do not want the quilting to compete with the applique work, instead, I want the quilting to complement.

Obviously, I will also stitch in the ditch the blocks.

Let’s talk about the proposed background design.   To draw the eye inward towards the center, I will add some linear ray lines with freeform fill.  This will provide some nice texture in the background.  Plus I can also add small motifs into the freeform quilting, including butterflies, flowers, leaves etc. along the quilt’s theme.  Once again, I will pick thread that matches the background fabric, I want to provide interest and texture, not compete with the block applique and piecing.

carlablock1My frame designs are actually rather clean and simple.  The reason for this relates to the owner’s quilting design preference.  Jill does not like too much quilting, so I wanted to respect this.

Here are a few sketch designs which did not make the cut, including my favorite one on the left  I think Jill would like this design if I removed the cross-hatching fill in detail.

carlaframe1The next design was discarded as looking as too “alien” like in the corners.  LOL!  Don’t believe me?  Look below:


This gives you an idea for how I design for a quilt- and my thought process as I get ready to quilt it.  I have Jill’s quilt loaded, and will start it after Thanksgiving.

Let me know if you have any questions.  Just leave me a comment and I will write back.

Happy Quilting!  Carla



4 thoughts on “Designing Quilts- Jill’s Applique Quilt

  1. I do like the cross-hatching (design #2) but can see that it adds “heaviness” to the overall appearance….still, it emphasizes/compliments the applique. Her purpose/desires as the client take precedence, however (although, there have been instances when I have gotten back with the client with strong suggestions that were different than those first talked about and the client couldn’t quite visualize them BUT was thrilled with the end results). Each instance is so different. I look forward to following this theme in future posts.

      • All this “stitching stuff” is so totally subjective!!!! I love it when a client drops off a quilt and says “work your magic….I trust your choices”!!!!!! as happened this morning. Sigh…………………….

      • LOL! To be fair to Jill, she did say to work my magic. I like to work collaboratively when I quilt for a friend though. My theory is that it is her quilt and I want her to enjoy the end result. 🙂

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