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.


Triangle Toss Quilt

Corey’s quilt Triangle Toss, which I quilted, is in the May/June 2012 issue of McCall’s Quilting!

Triangle toss quilt with free-motion machine quilting

Photo Courtesy of McCall's Quilting

McCall's Quilting magazine

It’s been so long since I have quilted it, that I kinda forgot about it. It was like seeing an old friend again when I saw it! The colors are so bright and fun and I had a great time quilting it!

If I remember correctly, Corey had asked for swirls in the background and something different in the triangles.
modern machine quilting

In the triangles that were pointing up and down, I quilted some simple lines echoing the shape of the triangle. In the triangles pointing horizontally, I quilted a triangle motif. I am so pleased with how it turned out! Well I am going to get back to work, I will be back soon!

Happy Quilting!

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!!!

%d bloggers like this: