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Three things to consider when choosing a quilting design


You’ve finished your quilt top. You’re so proud of how it turned out. All your quilty friends are oohing and ahhing when you take the top to show and tell. Then, inevitably, someone asks, “How do you plan to quilt it?” 

“Well,” you say. “Umm, I’m hoping my quilter will have some ideas.”

Well, your quilter does have some ideas, and I’ll share them with you here. This post will consider edge to edge, or allover, designs. We’ll talk about custom quilting in another post.  Consider these three things when choosing a design, and you won't go wrong.

1. How will the quilt be used?

As you consider quilting designs, it’s important to think about how you plan to use the quilt. Will it go on your guest bed where it’ll be infrequently used and washed, or will it go to a toddler who will drag it around on the floor? Will your daughter-in-law let the dog use it for a bed? (That’s a discussion for another post!) 

A quilt that will be lightly used can be quilted a bit less densely, but if you’re going to give it to a toddler (or a dog), you might want to consider more dense quilting to increase the quilt’s durability. Other than those few considerations, density is really a matter of preference. 

Let me take a moment here to dispel a myth that a lot of my clients believe — that dense quilting will make the quilt stiff. Unless you’re practically embroidering the entire top, this just isn’t the case. I’ve quilted lines as close as quarter to half inch apart, and the quilt is still snuggly, especially after it’s been washed. So if you like the look of dense quilting, don’t be afraid to use it!

2. Who will be using the quilt?

You’ll also want to consider the recipient here. Does she love dogs? Is he into baby goats? Choose a design that acknowledges the recipient’s interests, and they will love the quilt all the more. There are digital designs for every occasion and interest -- in 2020, for example, someone created a toilet paper digital design. Yep. You read that right. But I'll pay you not to make me use that on a quilt!

3. What's the style of the quilt?

I typically look at the fabrics in the quilt for design ideas. Does it have lots of flowers? Novelty motifs? Animals? We can usually find a digital edge to edge design that will enhance and unify the theme of the top. 

But, you ask, what if I used all solids and blenders and there are no fabric motifs? In that case, you’ll look at the shapes in your quilt. If there are lots of straight lines, choose something swirly or organic to soften them and add interest and movement. If there are lots of curves in the top, consider some straight lines for contrast. 

Contrast is key to adding interest, so consider using it in the quilting to add another element of interest to your already beautiful quilt top. 

One final thought to consider -- what is the style of the room the quilt will live in? Modern? Then you'll want to consider straight-line quilting. Bohemian? Consider florals. If the room is traditional and sophisticated, we can find designs to match that tone. 

If you have any more questions about quilting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at or visit my website at 

Happy Quilting!



   Ode to our foremothers

There is something so beautiful about a vintage quilt, with their mismatched fabrics and crooked seams and puckers. I’m working on a few this week, and I’ll admit, these quilts are not easy to longarm. They aren’t square, and some of the seams have come apart. They require a lot of fussing to get everything fixed just so you can get them on the frame – and that’s before you deal with all the puckers and the tucks and the blocks that won’t lay flat. 

But the women who pieced these tops didn’t have rotary cutters and acrylic rulers for accurate cuts. They had cardboard templates, pencils, and sewing shears – if they were lucky. They didn’t have lines of high quality quilting cottons in coordinating shades and patterns. They had old shirts, sheets and flour sacks that stretched and shrank in odd ways. Frequently, these vintage tops were pieced by hand, but even when done with the machine, they were a lot of work without all the gadgets we now have in our sewing rooms. And for all that, our foremothers still managed to make beautiful quilts to keep their loved ones warm and to beautify their homes. And some of them got tucked into boxes and trunks and old suitcases, only to be resurrected by a daughter or granddaughter a generation later. 

 So when a vintage quilt top comes into my shop, I’m grateful, even though they take so much extra work to prep and quilt. I’m grateful because their makers took the time to create them, and in doing so they paved the way for us to be able to create also. They passed on to us not only their love of quilting, but their willingness to take the time to create things. We learned from our mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers the importance of stopping our chores and our social obligations long enough to make something beautiful and useful. And I’m grateful for the stories these old quilts tell, of harder times and of making do with less, of using and reusing, and of not giving up just because things are hard to do. 

But I’m also really, really grateful for rotary cutters, acrylic templates, and high quality quilting cottons! 

Happy quilting!


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