Saturday, May 28, 2011

Machine Quilting Patterns

I’m frequently asked how I choose a machine quilting pattern.  

I think that the pattern should relate to the image whether literally or thematically or abstractly – or even abstractedly for that matter which I often am when quilting away!!

So the first thing I do is think about what image or kind of mark relates to the piece, and then I sketch it out on a piece of paper.  Sketching first helps in three ways:
Firstly you can actually see what it looks like!!  I find it hard to make a visual decision without an actual visual image.  I was asked last week did I want 12” or 18” tiles in my kitchen (assuming a square room that sinks in the middle, the dishwasher occupying pride of place in the pit of doom (!), can actually be tiled of course).  I had to go into the kitchen and mark out with tape what each tile pattern would look like.
Secondly: machine quilting is like drawing with a needle, so it’s good to practice drawing with the hand first.  The muscle memory transfers from hand to needle and your pattern will flow more smoothly from your machine!  
Thirdly: you can work out how you can use a continuous line (as far as possible) so as to save stopping and starting within the quilt.

Plus it would be great to build up a nice little file of possible quilting patterns (if you were a lot more disciplined than I am!).

So here are some examples that I’ve used in the past:

Bricksbricks 1


bricks 2




I’ve used this one for buildings a lot!! you can make the shapes squarer, or more rectangular… I show the first three rows, obviously you can keep on adding.  And I’ve not closed the shapes so that you can see the pattern as you zig zag across.  With this pattern you can build a nice wobbly grid without having to go in two directions, both horizontal and vertical aspects are done at once.









Now the above are all fairly literal, but if you made a quilt about a peaceful scene, you could quilt with peaceful lines, or if you wanted to make one about energy, you make lightning sort of zig zags.  I made a quilt about looking at the light coming through a cathedral window, and I quilted the piece with the words to a medieval chant.

So next time you’re thinking about machine quilting…get out your sketch pad, THINK, and draw!!

And now for a nice cuppa tea to celebrate a holiday weekend!  If you have been, thanks for reading!  and please do share any quilting patterns you think  have worked well for you.  If you send the image to me at the email address indicated on the side bar, I’ll put the sketch or picture in a later blog.  Thank you!!  Elizabeth


Jackie said...

One is forced to really consider the machine quilting if one draws it first, and practicing by drawing on paper really really does help with the stitching. These simple thoughts and plans sometimes slip by us unawares, and there we are faced with a whole quilt and stitching the ditch by default "because that's what I've always done," Quilting isn't an add-on, it's part of the design and should add value to the composition. So much for my blathering on. I need to tell myself these things over and over and am continually surprised by how well plan and practice help.

pam in sw florida said...

As I progress I seem to be using my quilting lines more as acents, such as a darker/heavier thread to show movement, but usually I quilt most of a piece with simple lines and neutral thread for the piece. Only a hint of quilting if you look. Occas larger shapes to reinforce the point. I think long and seriously about the design as it certainly influences the feeling of a piece.

Nancy said...

To me, the quilt line is what distinguishes a quilt from a painting. I love the texture that it creates. As I was working on developing my quilting style, I collected lots of photos of texture and line and often went to the collection for inspiration.

Nina Marie said...

I'm often stymied by my quilting line. Traditional quilts never give me a hassle - I can see it easily but my art quilts are another story altogether. I really need to start a notebook of different lines - ones that I come up and others that I glean from work I see. Then when I get a piece --- I can just go to the notebook and start thumbing through! (and yes I always draw out the line over and over so I can get the motion in my hand and head too before I stitch)

Nellie's Needles said...

I've found "Press'n Seal", the sticky plastic-like product for the kitchen, to be of better use in my studio than in the the kitchen. It sticks to fabric and is translucent. Also, it can be drawn on with a Sharpie pen. Like you, I cannot visualize how quilting lines will interact with the piecing without seeing them with my own eyes. Patterns can be drawn on the the non-porous surface with a Sharpie pen. When I come up with one that works, I remove it from the quilt and stick it to piece of cardboard which gets propped up near my machine to serve as a visual guide for the actual quilting. Some people have left the P&S on the fabric and quilted through it. I've found it extremely difficult to remove after the stitching. Besides, I like the more spontaneous lines that result from following the reference with just my eyes.

Mary Beth Frezon said...

I'm a big promoter of doodling on paper to develop ideas and ways to fill up spaces with single line stuff.

I'm also a big fan of keeping my little warm up pieces (about placemat size) that I use to quilt a bit before starting or after cleaning etc. Sometimes things turn up on them that are worth remembering. Or doing!