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Thread: How important is your quilting design

  1. #1
    Senior Member tallchick's Avatar
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    How important is your quilting design

    Iím very blessed to be able to have a long arm, and I really do enjoy quilting the tops I finish. I find ruler work tedious and not my cup of tea, though I admire those that do have the patience for it. Iím also sure that my ability to be a professional freehand fabric doodler with good results is in the same category as the latter. I usually just end up doing a meander or a hand guided pantograph, but somehow feel that a meander is a cop out. I bought robotics for my machine and plan to spend the winter months mastering the program and hopefully Iím able to get my quilts to look better with quilting designed to better fit the top.

    How important is your quilting design to your quilt top? How do you choose a quilting design for your tops?
    Lisa

  2. #2
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    I don't have a long arm - still trying to decide - have the $$ and space, but, I am trying to get better on FMQ on my Brother 1500 and don't want to confuse myself with the different techniques. I have also considered a sit down long arm. I play with the machines at quilt shows. I really enjoy the quilting process. I am improving, with still more improvement needed. I try and pick a quilting design that I'm capable of, that won't interfere with the piecing, but will highlight certain areas if they need it. Sometimes that takes me the longest - deciding on a design. I'm one of those that likes to do the entire quilt myself so I've never sent one out for quilting. I realize there are different strokes for different folks and it is all good - just that is my personal preference. And I don't like dense quilting designs but as I practice I see that they are easier for me and look good. A dilemma!!!
    Alyce

  3. #3
    Super Member SusieQOH's Avatar
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    Hi Lisa, I don't know if I'm much help but here goes:
    So far my large quilts are sent to a LA'er. I have no interest in it but love that there are people who do it. My last two quilts were a Log Cabin and a Shakespeare in the Park. Because they both had a lot of straight lines and points (SITP) I opted for swirly type quilting. For the LC I had her do flowers with leaves and vines. I'm so pleased with the results. For the SITP she did curves and I forgot what else. Love them both.
    I am basically a hand quilter but am learning FMQ so I can do some smaller quilts.
    Sorry if this isn't what you're looking for as I don't have a LA. But I really like those pantos.

  4. #4
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    Quilt designs have become much more important to me than they used to be. As Iíve grown in skill and confidence, and can better visualize how to enhance the piecing with creative quilting, I now enjoy the planning of that step. I used to dread it and not really value it. That said, I have only awe and respect for quilters who can think of (and execute) many designs precisely.
    Last edited by zozee; 09-05-2018 at 01:08 PM. Reason: Grammar

  5. #5
    Super Member ekuw's Avatar
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    It has become more important as I have evolved as a quilter AND as the numbers of those who Long arm quilt increases. By that I mean since more people either have their own LA or pay someone to quilt their tops that is the new comparison point. It seems like at least 50% of quilts that you see now are LA. The past few quilt shows I went to confirmed this for me. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but in my mind it has moved the goalposts as to what a finished quilt looks like. Buying a LA or paying someone for the service are not in my budget so I will continue to quilt my own. To answer your question, quilting design is pretty important. I don't choose the quilting design until after my top is completed, but then when I do, I try to choose something that is complimentary to the blocks, or try a motif I haven't tried before. I won't say that the meander is a cop out, its perfectly suitable for many quilts; I just find now that it's not the best motif to give a quilt a WOW factor. I am amazed by what people can quilt with a long arm, so I just try to keep up the best I can. :-)

  6. #6
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    it depends on the top. Sometimes I have a quilt that where specialized quilting looks great, and I have others that I do an all over computerized designs - and it also looks great.

    I think I have ended up with way more quilts that I spent a lot of time on and in the end, an easy all over pattern would have worked great. I don't think I've ended up with any that I wished I'd done a more specific pattern instead of an all over type.

    I like having the option to get a quilt quilted in an afternoon using a simple pattern, and then I can take 20-30 hours on something with special quilting if I want to. I've got 11 tops waiting right now. I still like piecing more than quilting.
    My name is Cathy - and I'm addicted to old sewing machines and their attachments.

  7. #7
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    IMHO the quilting design can be just as important as the piecing design. There are so many considerations that can and do have impact on how I quilt something. For utility quilts an E2E or all over design that ignores the piecing and the blocks is perfectly appropriate, especially in quilts that make a very strong visual impact before any quilting or have utilized such busy fabrics no fancy quilting will show anyway. Also time is a valuable consideration so if I am making a quilt with a tight deadline I will choose a panto for the quilting or a freehand design I know I can execute fairly quickly and won't require marking (or very little marking). This quilt is a good example of that (with a bit of a theme thrown in) : https://www.quiltingboard.com/pictur...t-t293883.html

    For quilts destined to be in a show or are extra special or just because you want to show off a little then custom quilting is very important. I have found my niche to be theme quilting. Sometimes the theme is in the fabric selections used or the end recipient. For example, I currently have a quilt on my rack (for a customer) that is going to be gifted to a Buddhist teacher. The fabrics are all Asian prints, fussy cut circles appliqued onto squares. I have chosen quilting design elements that are meaningful in buddhism so I am doing Lotus flowers and Dharma wheels and the borders are being quilted with a gingko leaf motif to tie into all the different Asian print fabrics, while filling up the space in a visually pleasing way that adds to the quilts piecing.

    For my own quilts, I often consider what kind of quilting I want to do before I even start piecing. This often involves doing a lot of research on the net for appropriate ideas and doing sketches of what would look good in the negative space of the quilt. I have even come up with the idea for the quilting first and built a quilt around it, like this one: https://www.quiltingboard.com/pictur...t-t290958.html

    Sometimes I have to stand and stare at a quilt for a while before an idea comes to me. Other times the instant I see the quilt (or a picture of it) ideas pop into my head and I run with them. Other times I will see a picture on pinterest of something with a motif I really love and want to somehow incorporate it, or something like it into the quilt. That single motif can spark a fire of ideas or create a theme I want to run with for the rest of the quilt. That was how I approached this quilt: https://www.quiltingboard.com/pictur...c-t289353.html

    I don't have robotics on my machine so it is all hand guided or ruler work for me. Luckily I enjoy ruler work but you are right it is very time consuming. But I don't find it tedious or boring. Doing pantos I do find to be boring but often it is quick and it is easy and often it is the perfect quilting choice for many quilts.

    Even when I hand quilted I usually found a theme for the quilt top for my quilting designs.

  8. #8
    Super Member Kassaundra's Avatar
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    The quilts I make are definitely about the drama (design) and the piecing. I would like to (and keep trying) to get better at the quilting. I would like to get good enough to say I could make a quilt about the quilting. That being said I do not have the money or space for a long arm machine. I don't have to money to have my quilts (except for the most special ones) quilted by someone else. So I try and figure out quilting that will look good (or nearly disappear) but still be in my skill level (straightish lines w/ a walking foot mostly)
    "Never cruel, nor cowardly, never give up, never give in."

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    I only do edge to edge pantographs.

    However, I do try to find patterns that reflect the nature of the quilt. So far, no one who has received a quilt from me has complained about the quilting.
    A quilt is like a good life. It's full of mistakes, but, in the end, it looks pretty good.

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    I start thinking about quilting design and thread colour before sandwiching. Sometimes I want my quilting to blend in with the back if I think I might makes some boo boos. As for quilting designs, I am always trying to quilt to enhance my top but also expand my FMQ or ruler work skills.

  11. #11
    Super Member quiltingshorttimer's Avatar
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    I view the quilting much like when you dress up and need to put accessories on to be totally dressed. Quilting does the same for a quilt. I will do a panto or E2E when either the quilt is going to be a "daily driver" or has a very busy fabric or complex block that would not allow the quilting to really show much.
    but I love ruler work and am willing to put the time into it (although customers usually don't want to pay for that) and like modern quilting (what I'm becoming known for with my customers)and that's a slow process. I do try to expand my quilting skills with each quilt--unfortunately what I learned today was to add backing without taking the quilt off the frame !

  12. #12
    Super Member jmoore's Avatar
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    I have to agree with Macybaby...that it depends on the quilt top. I am getting closer to a LA purchase but since I rent one currently (and get charged by the hour), I do not take the time to do much more than E2E or an all over swirls or a panto. I think a specific design adds interest to a quilt and I’m sure it will become more important to me when I have my own machine.
    attitude is everything...the rest will fall into place.

  13. #13
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    Having a smaller throat space than a long arm has, I tend to stick to loop-d-loops, meandering, and spirals. I'm still not good enough for pebbles...yet. I totally stay away from ruler work. The majority of my quilts are baby and children's quilts for charity.

  14. #14
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    Nothing wrong with a simple design to quilt a quilt. My old quilts that my grandma hand quilted are very simple designs intended to hold the quilt together. They are beautiful and have survived heavy use for over 50 years. I hope that she enjoyed making them as much as I have enjoyed using them.
    Flip side, I love to quilt my quilts. It's fun and it gives a purpose to my years of doodling on absolutely everything that I can get my hands on ;-) .
    To pick a design I usually draw out my quilt pattern in EQ and then print out a few outline drawings of it. It gives me the main lines of the quilt so that I can decide what I want to do and where.

  15. #15
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    I feel the quilting should compliment the quilt and not be the star. Just me.

  16. #16
    Super Member coopah's Avatar
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    I take anything larger than crib to a LAer. He looks at the quilt top and then suggests patterns that will enhance the quilting. He does many, many quilts and I trust his judgement more than my own.
    For crib/lap quilts, I use a walking foot and straight lines. It is more important to me to get a quilt done than to stress over the quilting.
    My great-grandmother and grandmother made many quilts. Most were for everyday use and were quilted with very fine stitchs and all in straight line variations. The only one with curved lines was not used everyday as evidenced by its great condition.
    Thank goodness for folks like you who love to LA!
    "A woman is like a tea bag-you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." Eleanor Roosevelt

  17. #17
    Super Member Snooze2978's Avatar
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    I also have a quilt machine with robotics and I love to custom quilt. I rarely do an E2E as it was so hard to get each row to match up with my old robotics but with my new system, IQ its a lot easier. Still I love to do custom. Even if I do an E2E in the body of the quilt, I'll do something different in the border area. Just my way of making it a little special. I watch all the videos I can to help me master my robotic system, I look at every quilt that has been quilted to get ideas and I'll save that pic if I think I might be able to use it in one of my future quilts or just to remind me the quilt pattern they used. I feel the quilting design is important to the quilt top but that's just my opinion for whatever its worth. If its just a utility quilt for myself I will probably do the E2E but still with the different border design. Would love to be able to do ruler work but so far haven't tried my hand at it though I have a lot of the various rulers.
    Suz in Iowa
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ekuw View Post
    It has become more important as I have evolved as a quilter AND as the numbers of those who Long arm quilt increases. By that I mean since more people either have their own LA or pay someone to quilt their tops that is the new comparison point. It seems like at least 50% of quilts that you see now are LA. The past few quilt shows I went to confirmed this for me. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but in my mind it has moved the goalposts as to what a finished quilt looks like. Buying a LA or paying someone for the service are not in my budget so I will continue to quilt my own. To answer your question, quilting design is pretty important. I don't choose the quilting design until after my top is completed, but then when I do, I try to choose something that is complimentary to the blocks, or try a motif I haven't tried before. I won't say that the meander is a cop out, its perfectly suitable for many quilts; I just find now that it's not the best motif to give a quilt a WOW factor. I am amazed by what people can quilt with a long arm, so I just try to keep up the best I can. :-)
    It makes me sad that expectations about what a finished quilt looks like have been changed by the prevalence of long arm machines. I see so much tasteless over-quilting now. I consider long arm quilting to be a separate art form from hand or DSM quilting because long arms make it possible to do so much more quilting in so much less time; this naturally leads to different design decisions being made.

    I like the look of a simple meander on a quilt, and I think a meander works really well for many kinds of quilts. I think the 'WOW' should always be for the quilt as a whole, and that the quilting should serve the design of the quilt top. There's a truly eye-opening book called 'Quilting Makes the Quilt.' The author made a variety of quilt tops, and she made each one several times, and then quilted each one in a different way, so you can really compare the effects of different design decisions.

    https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/quilti...&idiq=28489597
    Lisa

  19. #19
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    I am evolving as a quilter. I recently added a LA to my tools. At this point, I chose to learn one pattern well and use it on my quilts. I will add to my repertoire as I continue to evolve. Right now, I think the best course of action for me is to do what I can do WELL. I won't let myself stay stuck in this one design forever, but in the meanwhile all my quilts are swirls. I think your available tools and skills are an important consideration in any quilting decision.
    "The great doing of little things makes the great life." Eugena Price

  20. #20
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joe'smom View Post
    I consider long arm quilting to be a separate art form from hand or DSM quilting because long arms make it possible to do so much more quilting in so much less time;
    Less time than hand quilting but the time spent quilting by DSM and LA is comparable. I have quilted many quilts on my longarm that took well in excess of 60 hours and that is just quilting time. The quilt linked here had well over 100 hours in just quilting time: https://www.quiltingboard.com/pictur...l-t270708.html This doesn't even take into consideration the countless hours I spend researching designs, drafting them out to size and then marking the quilt which can take just as long, if not longer than the actual quilting.

    A lot of people love heavily quilted. I am one of them. There is a FB page devoted to them called QITDA (Quilt it to death anonymous). And yes, I guess I do it because I can! But I also do it because I love the look of lots of texture and I think the quilting and the piecing on many quilts can have equal billing without one or the other being the star but both! There are also quilts with lots of negative space that need the quilting to be the star (the Modern quilts come to mind) and then there are whole cloths where it is all about the quilting and nothing else.

    It isn't just machine quilters that do lots of dense quilting. Look at any award winning hand quilter like Andrea Stracke, Christine Wickert or so many of the amazing Japanese quilters that are showing in both the US and Japan. Many of these quilts don't leave more than an inch unquilted anywhere and do 1/4" cross hatching and tight hand stippling. Same with antique Welsh quilts so dense quilting is by no means a new fad. In fact most densely quilted quilts done by longarm are attempts to replicate the designs and look of these exquisite and amazing hand quilted quilts.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by tallchick View Post
    ...........................................How important is your quilting design to your quilt top? How do you choose a quilting design for your tops?
    I say the quilting is what makes or breaks the quilt! Also, you do not have to do ruler work to get a beautiful quilting motif. I do not think a meander is for all quilts, nor do you have to custom quilt every quilt.
    Last edited by Ellen 1; 09-06-2018 at 07:22 AM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member tallchick's Avatar
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    I have to say I am really enjoying reading everyone’s thought on this, it’s really eye opening and I hope that other continue to share their thoughts.
    Lisa

  23. #23
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    One reason I accumulated the number of completed/non-quilted tops that I have (around/over 12) is that I couldn't quilt them down to my satisfaction on my little old sewing machine. For the past couple of years I now have access to a long arm and I'm pretty happy with what I can do.

    But I find that while I think just fine in terms of 2D and the block designs/quilt patterns, my eye/mind have not fully evolved to the 3D of adding a quilting design and while some of my tops I do know what I want to do, some of them I have no clue. It does not come easy to me even though I am thinking about it the entire time I'm piecing. I'll do a search on the quilt name and look at what other people do (mostly on pinterest) and get ideas of what I do and don't like.

    I see at shows the work of people who get the concept and I am learning, but not quite there yet (if ever!). Another issue I have is I still think in the more traditional hand quilting types of designs (individual blocks) and not so much in continuous line concept. I find with my friends machine that a stop stitch and then baste to the next block works better for me than stopping/starting/cutting threads -- her machine will NOT travel the uncut threads from block to block without giving me issues.

    While I can work with the smaller/tighter designs, I still prefer a puffier acrylic batt to the warm & natural type. I just prefer the weight/feel of it. There are times though when a tighter design with the warm & natural is the correct choice.

    I have some vision issues and the long arm is not set up for doing pantographs (no back handlebars, no computer either). When I'm not doing free hand designs, I copy the designs onto parchment paper I buy at the dollar store (rolls are 1 foot x 25) so I can see them clearer. It copies well and holds up much better than tissue paper but is still quite easy to tear off. Of course, tearing off the paper is messy and takes a lot of time (also to copy the designs in the first place) but the final results are worth it to me.

    Typically my quilts don't have a lot of "empty" space. One thing I've found is that while I can do quite intricate designs the work gets lost in the busy-ness of the fabric and or block design. Best for me is to keep that sort of thing into alternate blocks, for instance I have a top of small "Broken Dishes" (maybe 4" finished size??, they were made from leftover cutting scraps of another project) separated by plain blocks. I think I will be quilting small butterflies into the alternate blocks while leaving the pieced blocks alone, or maybe just one (or both) diagonal line through the dish blocks.

  24. #24
    Super Member Doggramma's Avatar
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    I'm with you about the rulers. But I'm also not a feather person. Sometimes when I'm piecing a quilt, the quilting design(s) pop into my head. But I often get ready to do the quilting and "wing it" or revert to my normal spirals or woodgrain. I do agree, though, that fantastic quilting can really elevate a ho-hum quilt. The quilting design becomes more important to me if I've used solids or there's a large amount of negative space.
    Lori

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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by feline fanatic View Post
    Less time than hand quilting but the time spent quilting by DSM and LA is comparable. I have quilted many quilts on my longarm that took well in excess of 60 hours and that is just quilting time. The quilt linked here had well over 100 hours in just quilting time: https://www.quiltingboard.com/pictur...l-t270708.html
    How much time would you say this would have taken using a DSM as compared to a long arm? Would you have attempted this same quilting on a DSM? I mentally separate DSM quilting from longarm quilting because I understand it is more physically difficult to do a comparable amount of quilting by shoving a quilt around under a needle and through a harp than it is to move a needle over a stationery quilt. If this were not the case, why would so many people be switching from DSMs to long arms?

    Having said that, my comments are not meant in any way to slight the skill required to do long arm quilting; it is certainly an awe-inspiring art form! The mind boggles when looking at intricate long arm quilting.

    It was the observation that the goalposts had been moved that prompted my post. I think this was an apt observation. I don't like the idea that all quilts are now being measured against what is possible/practical only with a long arm, and that quilters without long arms might be trying to 'keep up' with what is happening in the long arm quilting world. I want a traditional, pre-long arm quilting aesthetic to survive, and (to strain the football analogy a bit), I want the old distance field goals to still count in the score.
    Lisa

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