It's Quilt Along time and I have some bad news - my computer Harry is still out of commission. I've never had a computer break this badly and unfortunately don't have a backup computer with video editing software installed. I'm working on a substitute laptop, but unfortunately it doesn't have the power to handle the software, so please bear with me for one more weird week!
Rather than learn new designs, let's learn how to play with all the hundreds of designs we already have. By the way, if you're ever in the mood to browse, you can find all 365 designs right here.
You can also find all 365 designs in a beautiful spiral-bound picture book that's loads of fun to flip through and pick designs quickly for your quilts. Find 365 Free Motion Quilting Fillers right here in our quilt shop.
So how exactly do you know how a design will look in a particular area
of your quilt? By giving them an audition and seeing which wins the
Yes, auditioning designs does require drawing, but you don't have to be perfect at this in order to know if a design will work or not. Perfection is not the point. Just getting the general shape of the design over your quilt is the idea.
So the first thing to start with is a photo or drawing of your quilt. If your quilt is already fully finished and pieced together, hang it on a wall and shoot a photo of it.
Now get this photo on your computer or take it to a printing store and print it out in grayscale (black and white).
Why are we removing all the color? Because color can be distracting. It's also hard to see your pencil marks over. Honestly my favorite way to do this is with a simple black and white outline of the piecing design so that way there's no distracting color or shading to deal with.
If you have a quilt in mind, try working this week with a photograph of a single block or a border corner section. This way you can play with designs over a small section at a time and hopefully not be overwhelmed by the full design.
Of course, if you can't do this - either you don't know how to take and manipulate photos this way or don't have the capability, don't worry! Here's an image to play with this week:
But how many ways are there to quilt this block? 5? 10? 100? There are literally millions of ways to quilt this shape. How do you know what way is best?
Simple - what do YOU like best?
The only way to answer this question is to print out this sawtooth star block and draw three different versions of it. We're simply holding an audition and any designs you like are welcome to participate!
Here are mine:
The first is a simple combination of Stippling in the block and Pebbling in the outside edges. The Pebbling is much darker and denser than the Stippling, which means the outline of the star will show up nicely.
It's important to note that this drawing is showing very dense quilting. You will definitely need to pay attention to scale as you audition designs because this can really effect how the texture looks on your finished quilt. What is the only way to know what it will look like ahead of time? Draw it and see!
This second version fills the star with Paisley and the outer edges with Stippling. In this case the star looks much more flowing and fluid when filled with all those tear drop shapes and echoes.
Remember that every design type will appear slightly differently. Paisley is a Pivoting Design, which means it has a lot more traveling and thread play and will show up more boldly on a quilt, even with matching thread color. Stippling is an Independent Design and will always appear much lighter because it's always a single line of thread wiggling over your quilt.
Very soon we're going to start investigating more design types - visiting a new one each month actually so we can gain a better understanding of how all of these designs work and can fill the spaces of our quilts.
Finally this third option opens up yet another path - adding marked elements to the piecing. Let's imagine the star was pieced, so the extra flower I've drawn inside was just marked on the fabric. I call these marked designs Motifs.
Motifs are designs that are not pieced or appliqued, but QUILTED in only with thread. They form new shapes and designs over the surface, and are marked to ensure their symmetry and placement.
Many times I'm asked why I mark certain things and why I don't mark others. I mark a motif because I want it to show up as exactly THAT shape. I want exactly THAT flower, formed exactly THAT way.
I couldn't free-hand this shape. If I tried to stitch this without marking, it would not look like this - wouldn't be lined up properly, wouldn't fit this space perfectly, and the effect wouldn't be the same. Marking is required for motifs to achieve that exact shape, in that exact placement.
Fillers on the other hand are not meant to be perfect or exact. They flow and bend and fill in places organically. I don't mark these designs because they're meant to be random, and it would also be ridiculously time consuming to mark them over the surface of a whole quilt.
Adding the marked flower motif to the star block has opened another world of design possibilities! I can stitch Stippling around the flower, wiggling into all those tight places, then fill the outer area with Paisley. What a pretty audition!
So which of these auditions is the "right" one?
Well, all three are good designs. All three add interesting effects to the quilt. There really isn't a "wrong" way to quilt a quilt, so there really isn't a "right" answer here.
The right design is the one YOU like the best.
How will all this look in thread on fabric? The only way to know is to stitch a small sample using a scrap of the fabric in the quilt and the thread you planned to use.
No, you don't have to quilt out a whole block if you don't want to, but it's a good idea to get some practice with the fillers you've selected with the thread you plan to use. Some fills like Pebbling simply won't work with some types of thread because the layers of travel stitching will cause weak, thick thread to break.
So that is your challenge this week! If you have a quilt needing to be quilted, consider taking a photograph and playing with drawing designs over the surface. If that is not open to you, print out the sawtooth block and play with drawing designs over it.
Yes, this is play! Not torture! Just have fun, keep it simple, and experiment with the many effects you can create by auditioning different designs and marked motifs over the surface.
Instructions for Linking Up Your Blog:
1. Write your blog post. Publish it on your blog.
Copy the link of the specific blog post. This is not just the link
to your blog itself (www.freemotionquilting.blogspot.com), but the
link to the specific post:
3. Click the blue link up button above and paste your link into the box.
in mind that you're posting your progress from LAST week on THIS
week's post. This way you have time to watch the lesson, play with
the ideas, then post your progress to the next quilt along. I hope
that makes sense!
Let's go quilt!