Many quilters have a stack of quilt tops because they aren’t sure what type of quilting design to use to complement the piecing. “How should I quilt this?” is a question we all struggle with at times. When developing a quilting plan, it helps to first analyze the sections of your quilt, then decide which designs will fit in those sections.
Divide and Conquer
The first step in developing a quilting plan is to identify the different parts of your quilt top. These may be different block designs in a sampler, or simply the center and borders of the quilt.
My example today is a Cactus Wreath (pattern by Cozy Quilt) that a customer asked to be custom quilted. The photo shows how I mentally separated the main areas of the quilt.
Section 1 is the corner motif while section 2 is the darker ring formed by the log cabin blocks. Section 3 is the side border area and sections 4 and 5 are the central motif and the background. Finally I would treat the outer border as another distinct section when developing a quilting plan. I often let the fabric colors dictate the quilting sections since I generally match thread color to the fabric.
Pair a Motif to the Pieced Block
As I am considering the sections of a quilt, I imagine the different quilting designs I have practiced. These motifs include a variety of feathers, flowers, leaves and filler designs. For this Cactus Wreath, I chose a large flower for the center section, with curly-q filler in the light background areas.
In the corners, I quilted a leafy vine that extended through each piece of the log cabin block.
For the frame created by the log cabin blocks, I extended feathers in the dark sections, a ribbon swirl in the medium areas, and a flame-stitch flower in the light sections. A full explanation of my flame flowers is in the post Flame Variations; a tutorial for the ribbon swirl is in the post Simple Designs for Strip Blocks.
Sometimes I write down my ideas with notes about thread colors and keep that posted near my longarm so I can stick to the plan. Although I have been known to change my mind in the middle and stitch something completely different! Spending some time developing a quilting plan will generate lots of ideas for your quilts.
Comment below with your favorite quilting motif. Is there a block design that you struggle to fill?