The number one question I’m asked in my machine quilting classes is this:
How do I decide what quilting design to use in my quilt?
Decide on what your quilt needs.
Let’s really look at my answer. First, this is your quilt. No one else’s, so it should look like your quilt. Don’t copy someone else’s quilting because they did the same quilt and that’s the kind of quilting they used.
Secondly, what does your quilt really need? How is it going to be used? A bed quilt calls for more quilting than does a wall quilt. A bed quilt calls for utility quilting, as you’re not going to be looking at it directly, as you would a wall quilt. Sure, decorative quilting is nice, and you can certainly do that. But ask yourself this question first: is my quilting competing with my overall design?
My perspective on quilting is unique, in that I take a different view than do most quilters. With my watercolor background, I have studied artists and art history extensively, and I understand that artists look at a work as a whole: they consider the function the piece serves, then decide on what form that should take.
They understand their job is guide the viewer’s eye to the most important area of their piece, and not to overcomplicate or clutter their piece with so much “stuff” that you can’t tell where to look.
That’s the biggest mistake I see machine quilters making. They put lots of ornate machine quilting on a quilt that already has a busy collection of fabrics and extensive piecing, and the quilting actually detracts from the overall design. You eye doesn’t know what to focus on.
The quilt I included with this post was a baby quilt I made for a friend who had adopted a little boy. This quilt is my original design: I wanted something masculine-looking for a boy. Nothing complicated, but beautiful in its simplicity and elegant design. Marla had asked for blues and greens, and I tossed in some complements of red and orange in light values for a little sparkle.
Because this quilt had a simple piecing, I could use a more complicated quilting design. Here’s the design up-close:
I call this Picasso quilting, as it’s interlocking cubes and rectangles reminiscent of Picasso’s Cubist era. Where did I get the design? It’s my own. I didn’t want ornate feathers (not appropriate for a boy or this design), nor did I want it to look like everyone else’s quilt, so I didn’t use stippling. My quilting design complimented the rectangular brick shapes and heavily quilted the quilt so it would withstand lots of use. I achieved both good form and beauty at the same time.
So when you approach your next quilt, ask yourself: “What does it need?” And have the courage to do it your own way.