How to choose a quilting design?

I’ve been working hard on a new quilt for my brother, which is why you haven’t heard much from me.  It’s a misty-moisty wintry landscape made with a curved pieced appliqué, à la Caryl Bryer Fallert, a very different kind of quilt for me.  I’ve completed the top now, and the decision at this point is always “What now?”. 

My brother’s original request was for something “zen”. Calm, simple, contemplative.  I’ve taken a photograph of the view from his property and made it wintry with lots of soothing horizontal swoopy lines. It will be the feature on a mid-sage green wall in his office, under lights.  The finished size will be 70″ square.

There are lots of wide open spaces on this quilt, just awaiting some magnificent quilting pattern or two or three.  I want a pattern that will enhance the design, provide enough coverage, not be too fiddly, and not take  focus from the main event, which is the distant view.  I don’t want the quilting to overwhelm the design, but to be subtle, so I won’t be using very dark thread. 

I can’t decide what to quilt, so I need a procrastination strategy. My first thought was that the piece needs some extra texture. I have quilted in the ditch on all pieces now, and I’ve started to couch nubbly yarns in the ditch, using Bottom Line thread (top and bottom) and a narrow zig zag stitch that will secure the yarns. This is a bit of a job, but I like the added dimension that results. I’ve also found some yarn with a bit of glitter in it, and I’m going to add this regularly throughout the quilt so that when the lights shine on it, it shines back a bit (but in a zen kind of way, of course!!!).

Some of the couching, including sparkly bits

I’ve been finding some really cool yarns to add to this piece!

But last night, after an evening of couching, I decided to look at quilting patterns.  My friend, Leah Day whom we met in North Carolina last year, is the go-to person for quilting designs.  She is in the middle of a project that should make her famous in the quilting world:  365 days of free motion quilting designs, which she films, uploads to YouTube, and has links to on her website.  http://www.daystyledesigns.com/365project.htm 

This is THE place to find a free motion design for your quilt!  It has well over 200 designs to date, arranged by difficulty and theme. You can watch her make a sample of each, and she discusses how to use the design in your quilt, and what to watch out for while sewing it. What a resource!

I’ve selected a very cool pattern that seems to mimic the larger design of my quilt for the foreground: Matrix Flow http://freemotionquilting.blogspot.com/2010/05/day-174-matrix-flow.html

I’m thinking of “Shadow waves” (her very first design on Day 1!)  for the water: http://freemotionquilting.blogspot.com/2009/08/day-1-shadow-waves.html

I’m still looking for a design for the sky. It might be Matrix Flow again, or something else.  Any suggestions?

If you’re EVER looking for quilting inspiration, visit Leah’s website.  You can follow her progress on her blog, too.  It’s really amazing, what she’s been able to accomplish, between the blog, the videos, and the stunning quilts she makes. And she’s a young mother, too. Ah, to have such energy!

So, thanks, Leah, for helping me through a difficult part of the design process.  I’ll show you the results when I get finished!

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3 Responses to “How to choose a quilting design?”

  1. Judy Morningstar Says:

    Whatever you do for sky, please don’t stipple it!! There are wavy cloud lines in the winter sky right here right now- that’s what happens at -20. Kind of parallel to the horizon. The bumpy clouds that look so pretty only exist in the summertime.

    • singingquilter Says:

      Thanks, Judy! I’ll do anything in the world to avoid stippling. Done that, been there. Thanks for your comment about the winter sky. We don’t get the -20 temps here, and it’s so easy to forget…. LOL!

  2. Mary Says:

    This is stunning, Cathy! Yet also calm and reflective. Another fantastic job well done! Your brother will greatly enjoy this quilt.

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