When it comes to deciding what quilting designs to use on your quilt, start by identifying the most important part of the quilt. It could be the pattern, the inspiration behind the quilt, or the recipient. But sometimes, it’s all about the fabric!

quilting a julie herman quilt

Tell me if this sounds familiar…..

You finally, finally, finally used that fabric you have been hoarding, I mean, collecting. It was scary to cut into because it’s out of print, but you were brave and carried on and actually used it in a quilt. You patted yourself on the back, because you not only finished a quilt top, but used up some of your stash. But then dread sets in……how do you quilt it? You don’t want to ruin your beautiful quilt top…….so you set it aside until you decide the perfect quilting design.

Sound familar? Or is that just something that goes through my head? Don’t answer that! Let’s just pretend you have a friend that has felt something similar.

Well it just so happens that I recently machine quilted a quilt that fits that description. It’s a truly epic quilt made by my friend Julie Herman of Jaybird quilts.

julie herman jaybird quilts candy dish quilt

This huge quilt was adapted from her Candy Dish pattern using her super versatile Hex N More Ruler.

This quilt isn’t epic just because it’s gigantic…..it also has fabric from Tula Pink’s first 19 fabric collections.

julie herman candy dish quilt

Julie spent years and years collecting all the special prints. Not to mention all the time it to took to lay out the fabrics and piece the quilt. It’s easy to say that the fabric is definitely the most important part of this quilt!

Showing Off the Fabric

Want to show off your favorite quilting fabric prints? Here are a few of my favorite machine quilting tips:

Follow the Theme of the Fabric

If all the prints in the quilt have a similar theme, then it’s pretty easy to keep the quilting within that same theme. Let’s imagine that I am quilting a quilt made up of floral fabrics. If I wanted to quilt an allover design, I would probably go with a flower meander. Or if the fabrics had geometric prints, maybe some Dot to Dot quilting would be fun.

However, this tip doesn’t work for all quilts, especially if the fabric doesn’t have a consistent theme. Julie’s Epic quilt is a perfect example of that…..the prints cover a range of fabric collections with several different themes. That’s when I rely on the next step…….

Highlight Designs

Do you know what I love about fabric designers? Besides the fact that they make me drool with their beautiful designs…….I love that they have already done all the work for me! Highlighting the prints is as easy as quilting around the details that they have already provided.

tula pink fabric

This is my favorite way to show off fun focal prints, such as the ones that Tula Pink is known for designing.

quilting tula pink fabrics

Before you get scared, let me point out that you only have to show off the details that you want to show off. You don’t have to quilt around every single detail on the fabric……not only is that time-consuming, it can be overwhelming.

Instead, go around your favorite details then quilt an all-over design in the rest of the block. It’s like a choose your own adventure! It’s makes the quilting that you choose impactful and easy!

Texture, Texture, Texture

Sometimes you will find yourself quilting a quilt made of blender fabrics, or fabrics with no focal elements.

plume feather machine quilting design

If the fabric doesn’t have anything highlight with the quilting, then you need to switch your mindset to designs that have a nice all-over texture. The main goal in this instance is to not let the quilting distract from your fabrics.

tula pink quilting fabric

Using a thread color that blends in with the quilt top will allow the quilting to almost disappear into the quilt.

I also like to use designs that have consisted spacing. This prevents any one part of the design from showing up more than the others. In Julie’s quilt, I used designs like the Plume Feather, Swirl Feather and just plain ‘ol swirls.

The main idea is repetitive designs that blend into the quilt.

Video: Quilting the Epic Quilt

It just so happens that I put together a video showing me work on Julie Herman’s Epic quilt from start to finish. Check it out:

Your Turn

What do you think? Have you machine quilted quilts where the fabric was the most important thing? What designs did you use?

Happy Quilting!