Creating the Right Background

I hope that you find these blog postings helpful in finding the best ways to quilt! Here is an answer to another customer’s question. She has pieced and is now quilting Space Crystal 2 from Big Book of Building Block Quilts (which is now in ABC 3-D Tumbling Blocks… and More!).

She stitched in the ditch around the crystal and wanted suggestions for the background. Two observations that I use to help decide how to quilt are:

1) The area in which I quilt the most recedes in the design. This seems counter-intuitive in some ways because the quilting adds a gorgeous design like in a feather border only to have the space around it jump out more or at least feel equal somehow. The way to make the border appear more prominent is to quilt more heavily in the negative spaces. This would mean using stippling, cross-hatch, or some other form of filler design. What size of filler design is answered in the next point.

2) There needs to be a noticeable contrast in size of shapes or density of the design to allow one design to stand out more than the other. I have a jacket in which I quilted oak leaves over the entire surface. When I finished, it was hard to distinguish the leaves from the space between the leaves. Choosing the filler, I needed the design (which was a swirl pattern representing the autumn breeze) to be significantly smaller than the lobes of the leaves. Otherwise, the leaves still would not stand out sufficiently.  To give a number to this concept, I would make the filler design be half to two-thirds the size of the original design shape. The smallest I would go is probably a quarter of the size. Any more than that and you are spending a lot of time quilting that won’t necessarily make a big distinction. Also, quilting too heavily in one area can cause distortion of that part of the quilt which would prevent it from hanging straight or laying flat.

To make my home machine quilting easier, I have quilting gloves that I use for free-motion quilting. I’ve modified them in a way that makes the process even easier. I am still in the process of looking for a manufacturer that would be able to make more of these gloves so I will keep you posted on when I find one.

Until then…enjoy your quilting!


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