I love to see how people do the things that they do so well. Glimpses into the process that they go through are really inspiring to me! I decided to document the process that I go through when trying out a new quilting design…..hope you like it!

Phase 1: Drawing, Drawing, Drawing

I spend a lot of time sketching, so I always have notebooks everywhere…in my purse, next to my quilting machine, in my car…..well, you get the picture. So the first step is drawing out a new design I want to try.

I draw it a lot before I think about quilting it. I rarely, if ever, take the time to just quilt for practice. So this step is very important. This particular design is something that I have had on my mind for awhile.

quilting desing practice

This is a very rough drawing, so don’t judge my drawing skills by this picture! Also, I am sorry the picture is so dark…..

I don’t even know where I got the idea from. I may have seen a quilt pattern that had this, or I may have seen a wallpaper design…who knows! There are designs that I love that unfortunately don’t translate to quilting.  I was afraid that this one was one of those designs. I love the way it looks, but there is a lot of backtracking to this circle….I wondered if it would it be worth it. Even though I had some doubts,  it was time to move into the next phase.

Phase 2: Quilting

Once I feel like one of my drawings will work as a quilting design, it’s time to try it out on a quilt.  Usually, the first time I try a new quilting design, I try to hide it in a quilt, so that if it doesn’t work….I am not ripping quilting out of a whole quilt.

The first time I tried out this particular design, I tried mixing it in with some swirls:

free motion quilting design

As I am quilting it, I am thinking that it looks ok but not great. I decided that perhaps it was the swirls that were distracting from the new design. So I try it with some pebbles instead:

I think that it’s a little better, the pebbles compliment the design and aren’t too distracting. But it’s at this point that I wonder if the design is really practical…..there is a lot of backtracking. It will take longer to do this design than most other ones and I am not sure it will work on a larger scale. So I try something a little different:

circle machine quilting design

I like how this one looks, but it’s not as interesting as the first one…..hmmmmm….

Machine quilting is a process of trial and error, learning what works and what doesn’t. After using the design on this quilt, I am not sure if it’s a keeper or not. I think it’s back to the sketch pad!

How do you practice your quilting designs? I would love to hear what does and doesn’t work for you!

On a different subject…..

My post yesterday about thread lead to great questions that I want to share with the rest of us!

I’ve had a hard time with polyester thread breaking in my long-arm machine. Can you tell us about brands of thread that you like?

I like So Fine thread by Superior thread, it runs like a dream in my machine. I don’t experiment with thread much, once I found a thread that worked for me, I stuck with it. I think that by not using a bunch of different threads, I don’t have to keep adjusting my machine. If I have a customer request cotton thread, I use Signature cotton. Just keep experimenting and see what kind of thread your machine likes best!

Jan brought up a great question as well:

Hi, I am new to quilting, but I was told to use cotton thread because, the poly thread will cut the cotton fabric over time. I know in the past ( forty yrs ago, when I would make a shirt and use cotton thread, the cotton thread did not hold up as long as the shirt. I have made about 5 quilts now and I hope that the cotton thread will not have the same problem. What do you think?

This is something that I hear all the time! Bob,the owner of Superior Threads, had an excellent blog post about this called “Busting the Biggest Quilting Myth” It is a very interesting read, definitely take the time to check it out!

I will be back tomorrow with some pictures of quilts that I quilted for Tula Pink’s book, “Quilts From the House of Tula Pink”. You know….some behind the scenes type stuff.

In the meantime, Happy Quilting!