Well it is Monday again and we know that means that it is time for another post in the “Deciding What to Quilt” series. Today we are going to talk about quilts with small blocks. Our example quilt will be the Seeing Squares quilt designed by Shea of Empty Bobbin Sewing Studio.

Photo by: Sarah Sorell

Since I do the quilting for all of her patterns, I have had the pleasure of quilting this quilt several times. It was challenging for me because of the smaller pieces, so I knew that it make a great subject matter for this series.

To help with suggestions is today’s guest quilter, Molly. Molly is a blogger friend of mine who has been knocking it out of the park with her free-motion quilting. She just started quilting for customers and I am excited to see what she comes up with next! Here is what she suggests for the Seeing Squares quilt:

Of course depending on my customer’s taste I would go one of two ways- if they were looking for an all-over meandering design I would probably do a square edge type meandering design- to mimic the geometry in the squares quilt.  This would look nice and would make the quilt nice and soft without too heavy of quilting- perfect for daily use.  If my customer wanted custom quilting and more show quality- with heavier design, I would suggest playing on the small scale and the geometry by doing pebbles in the outer blocks and swirls in the center squares- circles quilted amongst all the squares- both would look good, but if I were making it for myself I would go with the second route.

Option A

Option B

Thanks Molly! I think those are great suggestions!

When dealing with quilts with a lot of small pieces, quilting an allover design can be a great option. Trying to quilt each piece with a different design can make the quilting overwhelm the quilt top and that’s not a good thing! In one version of the quilt, I quilted a swirly allover design:

Photo by: Shea Henderson

But if you want a little more than just an allover design, try picking out random pieces within the quilt top and quilting a different design in just those pieces. Let’s call this an allover +1! It’s just as simple as an allover design, but add an extra little touch to the quilt.

Photo by: Sarah Sorell

In the above version of the Seeing Squares quilt, I quilted some of the pieces with a custom design, such as the white pieces, and quilted the rest of the quilt with a swirly allover design. A little tip: when picking out pieces to highlight, go with ones that will show your hard work. There’s no sense in quilting intricate designs only to have them not show up!

Here is another example of an allover +1:

Photo by: Sarah Sorell

I used a flowery quilting design with a few little details threw in.

But sometimes you just want to do some custom quilting……don’t you?…….I know I do. Sometimes, I forget how long it’s going to take and I quilt each of those little suckers with a different design and I love the result:

Photo by: Sarah Sorell

I am not saying that each block has to be a completely unique design. Instead, I pick out a few of my favorite designs and rotate them. For the smallest blocks, I use a simpler design, such an “X” or curved lines. I save the more dense quilting designs, such as pebbles, for the larger blocks. The difference in designs gives the quilt so much more texture!

Sometimes, you may not be sure if a quilt needs custom quilting or not. But if the words “hand-appliqued” describe the quilt….then it definitely needs custom quilting. That is the case with this quilt:

Jude sent me a picture of this quilt that she is working on……all I can say is, Wow! I would most definitely have to do some custom quilting on this. All the time and effort put in this quilt demands that the quilting adds another layer of art to the quilt, not distract from it. So the million dollar question is, “How do you quilt this quilt?”

It’s hard to tell exactly how big the pieces are in this quilt block, but if they are 3 inches or so, I would not quilt the pieces at all. I would quilt echo lines in the white background around pieces and leave the pieces unquilted. (I can’t believe I acutally typed that!) In the larger applique pieces, such as the circle, I would quilt something really simple….perhaps a swirl. If the pieces were larger than a few inches, I would echo the shapes inside the pieces.

What do you all think? I would love to hear your suggestions for how Jude should quilt her beautiful quilt…..please feel free to leave your suggestion in the comments. I am sure that Jude would appreciate them as well! And be sure to check back in next monday for the next installment in the “Deciding what to quilt” series.

Don’t forget to email me your questions or photos of quilts that you would like me to feature. Send them to: angelawaltersquilting@gmail.com

Happy Quilting!
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