We have all been there, right? You’re all ready to start machine quilting…..the quilt is basted, the machine is threaded, but you don’t know what to quilt. Sometimes picking out the quilting design can be harder than actually quilting it!

Trust me, this happens to all quilters….no matter how long they have been quilting. Well, at least it still happens to me, and I have been machine quilting for almost 13 years. Knowing that feeling well is the reason that I filmed the class “Help! How Do I Quilt It?”.  In fact, I experienced it with today’s quilt.

This quilt is Celestial Snowfall by Judy Niemeyer, a soon-to-be-published pattern by QuiltWorx.com. I have had the honor of quilting other quilts for her, and am always amazed by how beautiful her designs are!

judy neimeyer quilt pattern

It looked so lovely and festive hanging at Quilt Market.  But when I was preparing to quilt it, I was stumped…to say the least. Here’s a candid, pre-quilting snapshot before I got started.

celestial snowfall

So if like me, you find yourself stuck on a quilt, here are a few thing to help get you going.

Just Get Started

Instead of doing the walk-by (walking back and forth in front of your machine because you don’t know what to quilt) just get started. Sometimes, quilting in one area of the quilt will help you think of something to do in other area. When I am stuck, I usually start echoing blocks or filling in an area….which is what I did on this quilt.

deciding what to quilt

I wasn’t sure what to do in the yellow pieces of the quilt, so I started quilting a swirl filler in the background. I’d love to say inspiration will always come quickly, but it may take a little bit. Just keep going, soon the inspiration lightening bolt will strike.

Think Contrast

I love, love, love to use contrasting quilting designs. It not only allows the quilting to highlight certain areas of the quilt, and it helps individual designs show up as well.

contrasting machine quilting designs

Since I quilted a lot of straight lines around the outside of the quilt, I opted for softer, curvier lines in the center. So the next time you are stuck, try using a quilting design completely different from the rest of the quilt. Of course, this isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it just may help trigger some machine quilting inspiration for your next quilt.

Quilt Literally

When looking at your quilt top, think about what it looks like to you. Using the quilting to add details is always a fun option for your quilts. In the Celestial Snowfall quilt, I loved how the red triangles formed a star. Using that inspiration as a guide, I quilted straight lines along the edge to help accentuate that shape. In fact, I loved the idea so much that I echoed them a couple of times. (Can you tell that I don’t believe in too much quilting on a quilt?).

Judy Niemeyer quilt

Not every quilt will have a clear inspiration, but perhaps thinking along those terms will help you decide on the perfect machine quilting design.

Don’t Worry About A Plan

I know that some quilters can find it hard to just “wing it” when it comes to the machine quilting. But the fact of the matter is that you don’t have to have a plan for the whole quilt. If I waited until I knew what I was going to do in every part of a quilt, I would never actually finish one!

dot to dot quilting

When I wasn’t sure what to do in between the blue stars, I just started connecting lines. I wasn’t sure exactly how it would turn out, but I think it looks good. Would I do the same thing next time? Probably not, but every time I quilt a quilt, I learn something new!

So if you have an idea……go for it. And, of course, remember that a finished quilt is better than a perfect quilt top!

paper pieced quilt by Judy Niemeyer

What About You?

Have you been stumped by a quilt top and aren’t sure how to quilt it? Tell me about it in the comments, maybe someone will chime in with some ideas.  Happy Quilting!!