Deciding What to Quilt

Hi everyone! It’s a new week, and we all know what that means….another post in the “Deciding What to Quilt Series”.

This week, we are going to be discussing ideas on how to quilt Brenda’s beautiful lantern quilt. Here is her question:

I’ve finished a quilt top (all but the borders) and it is very bright (I attached a pic) and I have no earthly idea what color thread to use, nor do I have any thoughts on how to quilt it.  My first thought was to do squiggly lines along the strips, each square would have squigglies two going one way and two going the other (this is very difficult to describe), but that seems boring.  I don’t care for pantographs and I’m  relatively new to longarm quilting so something somewhat simple is right up my alley.  

Before we begin, I would like to welcome our featured quilter, Ashley. You all know who Ashley is, she is the woman behind the blog, Film In the Fridge. It was one of the first blogs that I stumbled across when I first entered blogland. I am constantly inspired by her many tutorials and am excited that she has agreed to join us today!  Here is what she suggests for the quilting:

I’m pleased you’ve asked me to be your featured quilter this week, though it makes me laugh because lately I’ve been looking to you for ideas on how to quilt my quilts! I love this chinese lantern pattern, and I think there are probably a number of different quilting patterns which would look great on this quilt. My initial thought would be straight lines running vertically. I tend to always think of straight lines first, because, while somewhat tedious, I love the look they provide.

Lately though I’ve been trying to stretch myself and try out new quilting patterns, so depending on the size of these blocks (I can’t really tell from this photo), I might consider an orange peel quilting pattern, following the diagonal lines of each block.

My last thought would be to highlight a secondary pattern by selecting 4 blocks (I’d go for something off-center) and quilting a spiral square starting from the middle of those four blocks. You could continue the spiral square out covering the entire quilt, or it might be fun to do the spiral square in alternating rings, and filling in the open rings with another pattern.

Thanks so much, Ashley for your ideas! I especially love how the last one uses the quilting to make a whole different pattern!

Sometimes I struggle with deciding how to quilt quilts like this. I usually like to quilt each block with a custom design, but the itty-bitty pieces can make that a challenge. The suggestion I have looks something like this:

I like the idea of using a couple of different designs. So my suggestion includes a back and forth line that fills in the blocks that are vertical. Then in the horizontal blocks, I think that a wishbone design would look great. Both of these designs would fill each of the blocks, but would not take any extra time for marking the quilt.

What about thread?

Brenda also asked me what color of thread I would suggest. The good thing about quilting a quilt so bright and multi-colored is that almost any color of thread would look great. I would shy away from any darker colors, such as purple or red. But other than that, I think that almost any color would look good…..perhaps a light lemon color? Or a funky green? The thinner a thread is, the more colors you can use. A thicker cotton thread will show up more so it would be best to play it safer with a lighter, more neutral color. But, if Brenda were to use So fine thread (or a similar thin poly thread) she could get away with the funkier colors.

What do you think?

So what do you think? How would you quilt this quilt? I love hearing everyone’s ideas and I know that other readers would definitely benefit from the different options!

Thanks again to Brenda, for letting me feature her quilt, and to Ashley, for being so generous with her time. I will be back tomorrow with the winner from last week’s post, so make sure you pop in and leave a suggestion if you haven’t already!

Happy Quilting!

If you like what you have seen here, follow me on twitter, “like” me on facebook, or check out my book.


The joy of quilting negative space!

Another fun quilt pattern of Emily’s that I quilted is Circular Reasoning


When I saw this quilt, all I could think of was all that white negative space. I couldn’t wait to have some fun with it! I usually try to think of things that I have never tried before, so when I had an idea of a different way to quilt it…..I went with it!

free-motion machine quilting

I quilted pebbles in amongst the letters, had wavy lines radiate from the center and finished off with swirls. You may  be thinking that it is a little over the top, but hopefully the matching thread keeps the quilting from overwhelming the center of the quilt.

Before I started I marked 2 circles on the quilt top, one around the letters and another one that almost touched the sides of quilt. This made three “rings” on the quilt. Kinda like this:

modern machine quilting

I quilted the swirls in the outer “ring” of the quilt and then quilted the pebbles in around the letters in the center of the quilt. Then I went back and quilted the wavy lines.

free-motion machine quilting

A self-indulgent photo of the back:

longarm quilting

Anoyone taking my Techniques for Quilting Negative Space class at MQX in Rhode Island next month will see me demo exactly how I quilt this design as well as many others. If you are planning to take any of the classes that I am teaching at MQX, better sign up quickly. Two of the classes are almost sold out! Guess I better get working on my handouts!

Happy Quilting!!!

How many ways can you quilt a Swoon?

Well, It’s Monday and that means it’s time for another post in the “Deciding What to Quilt Series”. This post is my biggest one yet, but it has to be….because we are featuring the Swoon quilt. The Swoon quilt pattern was designed by Camille Roskelley and is the subject of a massive quilt-along hosted by the pied piper of quilting, Katy. (I heard someone on twitter call her that and I thought it was so fitting!) Picking out quilting designs for such a neat quilt is probably even harder than picking out fabrics… many different options! I will give you a few, but they will barely scratch the surface!

I had the opportunity to quilt a swoon quilt, featuring Jennifer Sampou’s fabric, for Quilt Market. Ramona pieced the quilt and did a fabulous job!
swoon quilt pattern

Camille has agreed to pop in and tell us how she thought it should be quilted. It seems only right that the person that designs the quilt should get to give us her opinion!
Here is what she had to say:

Honestly, when I designed Swoon, the first thought I had was that it had to be quilted right. It had to have a more modern feel, but still go along with the traditional feel of the block. The baptist fan popped into my head, and I just couldn’t shake it. My local quilter, Andrea, was not only game, but completed it for me in a day so I could have it for Quilt Market. I thought it complimented my version of Swoon so perfectly. If I were to make another one (which I will, someday when I have a spare moment!) I would love to do straight line quilting, or have Angela do some of her swirly magic on it. Hmm… might have to get started…

another view of a swoon quilt

Photo by Camille Roskelley

Thanks Camille for sharing with us today! I love what you suggested. The one thing that I love about this quilt pattern is the large scale of the blocks. The fact that the blocks are so large means that an allover design won’t take away from their beauty!

swoon quilting

Photo by Natalia Bonner

Natalia recently quilted this Swoon quilt with an all-over chevron design. I love how it looks on the quilt…..just beautiful!

modern quilting on a swoon quilt

Photo by Natalia Bonner

But the large scale of the blocks also means that you can try quilting designs that wouldn’t normally fit in a quilt block. Since there are so many elements to the block, I will break it down into two parts, the center and the outer parts.

Center of the blocks:

Since it is hard to see the quilting in the picture that I have, I drew out an example of what I did in the center of the blocks:

ideas for how to quilt a swoon quilt

There is a lot going on, but it’s because there is so much room to play with! My favorite part of the center is the curved lines in between the points of the star. I love how it  brings the whole look together. If you use the same fabric in this area as you did in the background, you could also consider using the same design that you used in the background.

In the points of the star, I did some simple straight lines…..I thought that they would contrast with the curvier lines.

In the center of the star, I quilted a swirly feather. It was an indulgent pick….I wanted to quilt a feather and the center of the star seemed as good of place as any. If I would have known that I would be discussing it in this much detail, I may have picked a different design. Oh well! You can’t hardly see it in quilt becuase the fabric hides it, but this is how I did it.

To quilt a feather in a square, start from the corner and make a line that swirls in (picture 1). Stop in the center and quilt the feather working your way back out, filling in the whole space (picture 2)

For the outer ring of the block, I quilted each block differently….the fabric was busy enough to handle it! In some of the blocks I quilted the outer ring as a single piece, using lines that radiated out from the middle:

ideas for how to machine quilt a swoon quilt

Doing this was especially easy since I was able to use the points of the block as my guides……I just angled the lines toward them.  Doing this also helps draw attention to the center of the square.

In some of the blocks I treated each of the pieces differently, and that gave it a totally different look. Here are some of the different things I tried.

If you decide to quilt the blocks with a custom design, then you also need to figure out what to do in the background. When I quilted it, I used a gentle wavy line as a background filler. I thought that it went with the fun, party attitude of the fabric.
picture of a swoon quilt quiltled with modern quilting designs

Since the blocks make such a big statement, I would suggest just picking out your favorite design and using matching thread. That way the quilt blocks can take center stage!

Well that about sums it up for now! Like I said earlier, there are so many fun things you could quilt on this quilt. Let this be the starting point to let your creativity fly!

Since Katy has sent me her Swoon quilt to quilt…..I would love to hear your ideas or see what you have done! Please leave your suggestions and/or links to your quilts in the comment section. I can sure use all the inspiration I can use, I don’t want to let her down!

And……I will be back later today with my fun news….

Happy Quilting!

If you like what you have seen here, follow me on twitter, “like” me on facebook, or check out my book.

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