Monday, May 4, 2020

Choosing the quilting

My bright blue inventory quilt is finished!  Since it was a smaller version of Sparkling Trail, it didn't take long to quilt once I decided what to quilt.  The planning took longer than the quilting!

There's my attempt at a glamour shot.  OK, I just wanted to admire the daffodils.

And the dandelions.  I have lots of those.  I know they're weeds, but they are so cheerful right now!  Plus the finches love them.

This one is not a glamour shot, but it does a much better job showing off the quilting.  I toyed with the idea of trying different fillers in the various blue fabrics, but in the end I really wanted the blue fabrics and not the quilting to be the focus.  Straight line quilting 1/4" on either side of the seams gave just enough texture to call attention to the blues without distracting from them.

You'll notice there are three stars quilted with a flower consisting of six large petals and six skinny ones.  This was the design I planned to quilt in every star.

I quilted the first one by stitching the large petals first, then the small center ones.  That experience suggested that quilting the center would help stabilize things better for quilting the larger set, so that's what I did on the second star.  Guess what? I really liked the delicate look of just the small petals in the star, so I skipped the larger petals in the rest.

Why, then, are there three stars with the larger petals?  I didn't want to pick out quilting to make the first one match the rest!  One star quilted differently looked a little odd and lonely, so I gave it friends.  As always, my quilting plan was very fluid and subject to change on the fly!

It took me several days to decide what to quilt in the border.  I sketched out three other designs, which I saved for possible use in future quilts, but none of them seemed right for this quilt.  It finally occurred to me to repeat an element from the center of the quilt to tie the border to the rest rather than introduce yet another element.

What you see on the quilt in the photo above is actually the second iteration of my border design.  I drew the first iteration on paper and was informed that the 5 petals I used to turn the corner actually looked like a certain weed someone might smoke!  Three leaves worked just fine, though then the "leaves of three, leave them be" warning about poison ivy popped to mind! However, these 3 leaves don't look anything like poison ivy, so they can stay.

How do you plan out your quilting?  Do you sketch first, or can you see it all your mind's eye?  Or do you just start stitching and see what happens?  Please share in the comment.  I'd love to know how other quilters approach the task.

The Sparkling Trail pattern is available in my Etsy shop at 20% off regular price now through the end of June when you use coupon code JWQIQ2020.  See this post for more information about modifications I made to make the quilt above.


  1. Very pretty! I doodle a lot before quilting. I try to get a general feel for what I'm doing. Although often it changes as I start actually quilting. :-)

  2. Funny you should ask the questions in that last paragraph! Of course, I've never done the detailed work you do in my quilting; not at all like you do so professionally. However, today I reached the point on my little wall hanging where a decision has to be made for what to quilt in the border. I really don't want to do straight lines, but I don't want to try something I can't do well enough to suit myself, or my friend who gave me the panel. Tonight I'm in a total state of indecision! I'm thinking I want to dig through all those stencils I have hanging on the back side of my bedroom door. Surely there must be something there I can make work. Wish I could do it in the morning, but I have to help a friend on her quilt who knows less about quilting than I do, assuming that's possible! Maybe the next day I can get my borders figured out and get that thing finished! I love to read how you go through all your decision processes. ---"Love"

  3. Gorgeous! ! ! The blues are amazing and the quilting is perfect. Another beautiful quilt! I hand quilt my quilts and usually I just start stitching and the quilt seems to tell me what to do. Sounds strange but it happens often!

  4. That quilting works so well on this quilt and I really like how you have echoed the star flowers in the border design.

  5. Your stars are really sparkling in this beautiful blue quilt. Sometimes I plan out all the quilting and sometimes I only know part of what I want to quilt and jump in anyway.

  6. It's beautiful! And your quilting looks amazing...the design is perfect.

  7. Nice quilting on your fun quilt! Deciding on a quilting design is my biggest roadblock. Sometimes I just start the machine and go. with no idea where I will end up. I have an HQ16, so I can do pantographs but they are so putzy that I would rather quilt freehand.

  8. I LOVE this quilt pattern. Every time you do one, I think - Oh! That's the best one yet! - and this iteration is no exception


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