Friday, March 1, 2013

Background fillers

This week I spent time practicing free-motion quilting.  I had never tried background fillers but my lone star runner seemed a good place to practice.

Finished star runner

When I practiced a few designs a few weeks ago, I thought they were too dense compared to the light quilting I planned to do in the stars but I really liked the swirls (“concentric circles” from the book Free-Motion Quilting with Angela Walters). I finally decided to try them on the runner anyway and just quilt more than I had planned in the stars.Closeup Pink star

I liked the way that turned out, but I thought a whole runner covered in swirls might be too much swirl so I pored over the book again and settled on pebbles and wood grain for two more blocks.  I couldn’t get the wood grain design down to a suitable scale for the small space, so I simplified it a bit.  “River path” from Leah Day’s Free-motion Quilting Project filled another block, but I didn’t find anything else I liked that would fit the scale and go well with the other designs I had already quilted, so I repeated the pebbles instead of using 5 different designs as I had planned.

  I like to quilt with a thread that blends at least a little bit with the fabric.  I don’t really want to see a line of stitches, especially when the stitch sizes are all over the map in my free-motion work, or when I have to backtrack over a stitched line and I don’t quite manage to follow the line exactly. Closeup Purple star With blending thread I see the texture as a whole instead of the individual iffy stitches.  As I stitched in the center of the star I cringed about my curves not being consistent and not all meeting where I wanted them to and I thought I might end up taking it all out.  Once I was done and looked at the whole instead of the individual parts, I was pleased to see that the blending thread did its job, showing off the texture and hiding the bobbles.



Closeup Yellow star




Modified wood grain





Closeup Green star




More pebbles





Closeup Blue star





“River Path”.  This design was really easy and fun to do.




This was all good practice in quilting background filler designs and they look great on the runner, but I’m not sure I would use them on a quilt I want to curl up under.  The heavy quilting makes the quilt really stiff – fine for a runner but not very cuddly.  Quilting all the designs on a larger scale might make things less dense and less stiff but I’m not sure how they would look on a larger scale…  I suppose I’ll have to experiment at some point.


  1. All the designs look wonderful! Deciding what to quilt where is hard for me as well. I do find that when I look at the whole it looks a lot better than when I am doing it and I can see my mistakes as I make them. Then afterwards, when you try to find the mistake, you can't see it. (At least, I hope so). If I ripped out every goof, I would never finish get finished.

  2. I just love lots of quilting on quilts so you fillers look great. Swirls and river path are my favourites. I've done a baby quilt with all over pebbles. Took ages and lots of thread.

  3. Your quilt s and quilting are beautiful. I am your new follower.

  4. Those blocks all look awesome! We're our own worst critics, too...don't forget that!

  5. Your quilting looks great to me! I still love those vibrant colors too! ---"Love"

  6. Your blocks are wonderful, I love them all! You did a great job with the quilting.


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