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



Sneak Peek Quilting

Just started a heart quilt today, here’s a small peek of this one. Here’s a “before” block where I am doing a small meander fill:

and the after block where I have filled in along the spine. I am working really small here. Some of these feathers are 1/16th of an inch:

I really like the texture of this particular fill. Of course, kudos to Suzanne for her Meandering Magic technique that I have used as my fill in the example above. Next, I have to stitch-in-the-ditch around (and on) all the appliques, plus in between the blocks. Today, I hope to get some good quilting time in.

Yesterday, I gave a private quilting lesson to Mike, who has a lot of talent and potential as a longarmer. I can’t wait to see his first show quilt when it is completed. By the way, it is nice to see more men entering the longarming world!

Regards, Carla

Finished Applique Quilt

I thought I would share the finished applique quilt that I did for Jill. Her request was to quilt it allowing the applique work to be showcased. I feel I was able to achieve this goal and still do some cool quilting. Here are the pictures:

and a close up of the block design:

The quilting is cool, yet not overpowering. The block design brings the eye in, making the applique work more important. The focal points are the flowers, but the quilting supports it nicely, in my humble opinion.

I used 2 stencil designs to support my freehand work- I mentioned the scroll work by Karen McTavish and the Block flower (one of my favorites!) is by Barbara Chainey, available at StenSource.

If you are heading off to the Long Beach Quilt Show, be sure to look for this quilt hanging in the booth called, “A Designing Woman.”

Off to load the next one…. Carla

“Elegant” Quilting

After looking at Jill’s quilt, and knowing she wants a simple understated quilting treatment, I decided to use the word “elegant” as my quilting inspiration. I remembered seeing a lovely design from a Karen McTavish book (from a few years ago) and remembered I had picked up a stencil of this design along the way, but had never used it until now:

It is hard to see since I quilted dark gray on black. Here is another view before I added more quilting:

Now here’s my own freehand to complement Karen’s stencil and fully fill out the space:

Subtle, understated, plus it complements the pretty applique in the circles. See? I can quilt using the motto, “less is more” when I want to. A rare event- to be sure, but I can quilt minimally when asked to.

Off to do the blocks now… Enjoy your weekend! Carla

Applique Quilt- next up!

Next up on my table will be a quilt for applique artist, Jill Rixman. This is a pretty little quilt and her applique work is stunning. See for yourself:

I will use black thread in the black and green thread in the green. Since she is an applique pattern designer, the idea of this quilt is to sell her patterns. The star of the show needs to be her applique work, if you get my drift… LOL!

That means no special thread and no contrast in the quilting. I will use some cool texture quilting and motifs to complement her work instead. This is actually challenging for me because I love to have the quilting be the star of the show! Thus said, an experienced quilter needs to know when to subordinate the quilting lines so the focus is either on the applique, the piecing or the overall quilt design.

But the quilting doesn’t have to be boring either. Let’s see how this one turns out…. keep watching!!

Hugs, Carla