If you like to hire a long-arm quilter to quilt your quilts, then you may find this article less than exciting. If, like me, you enjoy the process of making a quilt from sewing the first two pieces together to the very last stitch of the binding, this may be familiar territory.
Once the top is done, it's time to consider the next step - how are you gonna quilt that thing? I feel that the terror associated with that question is one big reason why quilt tops (like this one) get cast aside (for years, in some cases, like this one) for completion later.
For me, the quilt strategy starts at this stage--the basting step. I like to pin-baste the backing, batting and quilt top together for several reasons, but in particular, because it gives me time to contemplate the how I'm going to quilt this project on my domestic machine. The pin basting gives me time to determine my quilt strategy.
There are a couple key things to consider:
Your confidence level. Do you like the quilting step? What is your comfort level with free motion quilting? Would it be better to stick with straight lines and a walking foot? With anything, practice makes perfect and sometimes diving in will build confidence.
Your confidence with your sewing machine. My sewing machine is currently overdue for a check up. As much as I clean and oil it, it's still not behaving at 100%. That limits how much I can push it until I can get it in for a spa day. Maybe the sewing machine has a smaller throat area, that can make manipulating the quilt more difficult. There are lots of reasons, your sewing machine could limit your options.
Your time line. Do you want to get this done fast? Or do you want to take your time and get more intricate with technique. Whatever your quilt strategy, it's going to take at least a little bit of time, so chose a path that you'll enjoy.
For these last few quilt projects from the laundry rack, I want to get them done fast while securing the layers adequately so the quilts can get to work on a youngsters' beds.
I admit that this particular quilt - the last one of this batch from 'the rack' - had me baffled. The quilt plan just didn't seem obvious as I pin-basted it. I finally settled on a keep-it-simple strategy of straight lines, simple decorative stitches, and a little bit of free motion quilting that highlighted the blocks, sashing, and border separately.
I started with the sashing. In-the-ditch lines of stitching from border to border. A stretched-out S-shaped decorative stitch fit nicely between the ditch quilting lines.
I like the unplanned randomness where the decorative stitches intersect in the cornerstones.
I'm still working on the sashing area, but it's funny--working on the sashing and having a plan there, freed up my mind to consider how to quilt the blocks. Each block is pieced so it has a narrow border (the lime green below). I want to reinforce the look of those narrow borders as block borders, even though they are 'technically' part of the pieced sashing strips.
On the left below is the dutchman's puzzle block, on the right is the block with a potential quilting strategy that starts in the upper left and proceeds around the block a few times following the flying geese elements. I'll be using a walking foot, so this strategy means a lot of turning the quilt. Before I settle on this idea, I'll have to reconcile whether I'm okay with all that manipulating. Since I know my sewing machine has a big enough throat, and the quilt isn't all that big, this plan feels good even though I'm keeping my mind open.
Always good to step away and re-evaluate. Hard to see the quilting from this busy pieced front. But if you flip it over. . . .
. . . You get a better feel for what's happening.
As much as I tried to put off quilting on this project, now that I have a clear strategy that is working nicely, I can't wait to finish it up!
Without a quilt strategy, I feel like a fish flopping around on a deck, and it usually doesn't end well. Sometimes, the strategy doesn't show up until you're about to dive in. Sometimes, you get the feels right away, and sometimes not so much.
If you quilt your own quilts, how do you decide on YOUR quilt strategy?