Wednesday 13 July 2011

How I Quilted This - Tutorial

Mary asked me in what order I quilted the elements of Elaine’s appliqué quilt which I posted yesterday. (By the way, Mary’s blog is worth a peek  I especially like her latest post on the wholecloth she is making.  Click here to see it).

I thought answering that question would make a good blog post.

Whenever I’m doing a detailed custom job, I like to stabilise the quilt first. Then I can go backwards and forwards over the quilt doing the quilting as I please.

So firstly I outlined the appliqué, ditch stitched the four blue strips, and quilted the main or top curved cross hatching lines.

If you click on the picture you can see more clearly where I have marked the areas.

Originally Elaine wanted much simpler quilting, but as soon as I had these main curved cross hatching lines in, I could see a lot more potential, so I rang her and talked her into letting me do more feathers.

I then did the feathers on one of the curved cross hatching arches in the centre to see how I liked them. With a little unpicking, I was happy with how I got them to form the circle.

Once I was happy with one, I did the other side of that particular circle.

Elaine had asked for the horizontal lines to be 1 ½ inches apart. But when I quilted this, I could see that with the feathers this was now too wide, so I reduced it to ¾ inches apart. Once I was happy with the width of the horizontal lines I completed one of the centre circle shapes to make sure I was happy with the overall effect.

Because of the increased detail in the centre panel, I needed to do more detailed feathers in the plain cream strips than originally planned with my customer. I decided to do curling feathers in the cream strips, and now I then quilted in the stems.

You can see how I mark the stems at my blog post here.

Also, I now needed to do feathers on the borders, curving with the cross hatching to match the centre. Plus the horizontal lines also needed to be ¾ inch apart to match the centre.

At this point I had decided on all the quilting elements for the quilt – which you can see was an evolving process that involved some unpicking.

Now that the quilt was stabilised and all quilting decisions had been made, I rolled the quilt up and down, quilting it in whatever order I felt like. Because my hand aches when I do too much ruler work at the one time, I would alternate between quilting a few of the curved cross hatching areas with a few feathers.

To see more pictures of the quilt click here.


  1. Desley, thanks again for the process you used to determine the quilting. It is so interesting to see how different quilters arrive at the finished product. You are so talented!

    Thanks for the link to my blog, too!

  2. Your work is always so perfect and adds so much to the quilt tops.

  3. Thank you, Desley, for sharing your process with us. I'm drilling the 2-stage process into my head, and I'm betting it's wise to use both at the frame at in table-top fmq. FIRST do the stabilizing quilting for the whole quilt. SECOND do the "real" work. ;D

  4. I love this quilt because the quilting is just as important as the design and the applique. I love your work!