A quilting project has brought me to think about the way I use simple quilting designs to add texture to my applique quilts. I like the applique to be the major design feature in my quilts, so I use a subtle thread weight and colour to add the quilting layer. I stitch in the ditch as close as I can with a very fine thread matching the colour to the background fabric and where necessary to the applique pieces. Stitching in the ditch helps define the applique shapes, they start to look raised almost 3D on the quilt surface.
You can see in this picture where I have stitched in the ditch around each circle to make the flower pop and give it dimension. This is when you will need to match your thread to the applique pieces. You can of course use a monofilament thread although this is not my favorite.
After the stitching in the ditch is done, I then like to work the design in close to the applique shapes. Working small when close so that the quilting is denser and really pops the applique shapes.
You can see where I have stitched the design close to the stem, making the stem pop. You can also see in this pic where the larger applique shapes have also been quilted inside the shape. I do this to stop the larger shapes from bagging. I find that the larger pieces tend to do what I call bagging, where the fabric can puff looking loose. I also like the effect a little quilting can do to these larger shapes, giving another layer of design. It can look worse when left un-quilted after the quilt is washed.
I am not a fan of the traditional stipple quilting and honestly find it hard to do. Maybe that’s because it does not rock my boat as far as a design feature. I love to meander with little spirals, or leaves etc the possibilities are endless. I love to make the shapes varying sizes, this adds more interest and when you have a shape that has gone a bit array it does not show. I use echo quilting to get from one spot to another, making it easier to keep going and get out of those little areas. I do have to remind myself to quilt larger shapes, it is easy to get into a motion of small shapes. I find on the outer areas of the block it can look nice with larger shapes mimicking the smaller shapes that are in clos to the applique.
This is the border of cross blocks, I have stitched in the ditch and then done a free motion design in the centre of the block. I really like the effect and will use this more often when I need a fill design for a block.
I hope you have enjoyed my quilting play, and would love to hear any ideas you have.