A little or a lot? Or how much quilting for this quilt?

20449106_10213973184472142_3759714678466190392_oHow much threadwork does this quilt need?

A little?

A medium amount?

A lot?

This question comes up frequently often saying something like, “I see all these quilts that are quilted to within an inch of life and I don’t ‘get it’, ‘like it’, ‘understand it’.” or “I like quilts that are quilted this way because they belong on my bed.” or “my walls are warm enough”

bob at Roanoak
Celebrating 25 years with this guy on Wednesday September 27th I love him!

There’s a reason why the word “It’s your quilt, it’s your rules” frequently exits my lips – this part – like so much of quilting – is all about you. You get to pick. You get to choose the lime green and pair it with the deep gray. You get to pick what weight, and color thread.

A slightly more complex answer begins with the following questions:

What is the end purpose of the quilt?
What batting will be used?
What thread(s) will be used?

Once these questions are answered then the rest, like a cute puppy, will follow you home. I’ll give an example:
double-irish-chain-full-viewI’m planning on remaking a quilt for my sweetie and I, a double Irish chain, using a variety of colors, and a gray background. As it’s a remake of a quilt I already own I get to make choices that are significantly different than the first quilt (seen here on the left)

First – no muslin. There are two different weights here because I didn’t know any better in that moment. The cream is where the gray will be.

Not only the gray background, the rest of the colors will be changing as well. My use, and understanding of color has changed.

Second – it’ll be bigger. It covers our queen sized bed, but not with us under it. I’m not a fan of fighting for the covers, are you?

Third – it will be all machine quilted, a bit more consistently across the surface. This is comes from the years of experience I now have. This will reflect where I am as a quilter now, and this is my choice.

Fourth – batting – most likely wool, or silk. because I like how they show off the quilting. When I started quilting this I used a dense cotton, I liked it at the time. However my experience now brought other battings into my quilting world. It’s been exciting exploring what they do. In an upcoming post I’ll share the battings I use and why.

Fifth – thread – it used to be all cotton. Now there are so many threads – cotton, wool, polyester, silk that are worth a look. Then there’s weight. Oh dear me I’m getting excited thinking about the possibilities!

So this is a bed quilt, with wool batting. Depending on the batting I might be able to quilt 4 – 8″ apart. So that will, in some ways, determine how much quilting is stitched over the surface of the quilt.

Now I’ll talk about whole cloth, and art quilts a little later on. Stay tuned!

Happy Quilting,


PS there’s still time to enter a quilt in the Connections Quilt Festival I’m filling out the paperwork for 2 later this morning!

Inventing quilting

Ruler Work Cross HatchingA way back when, that moment I invented quilting the full expectation of the breadth and scope of quilting, in all its various forms and functions I saw in full clarity. Inventing quilting was pretty hard work, well worth the effort I’d say. Watching quilters and quilt making take this delightful turn from utilitarian blankets keeping people warm on cold nights to a recognized form of art has taken a ton of effort. Good grief I had no idea that quilt makers would be so stubborn about the way things “should be”. Yi yi yi! The intent from the beginning to create functional beauty. Functional beauty takes many forms including adorning walls, messages that start conversations, quilts that are seemingly offensive until the story behind them is understood.
Fabric designers, gosh the way they employ the color sense that I gave them – giving piecers and quilters so many ideas and ways to use designed fabrics. An unintended side effect is paralyzing fear in quilters it’s that whole free will thing.  And solids! Oh my 303 solid colors from one company alone, blank canvases to add gorgeous stitching and complement every fabric from every company.

And thread don’tcha just love how thread designers (yes, that’s what they’re supposed to be called) use color in so many varieties and variegation and fibers. I have to say my fave is the silk thread oh the delightfully tiny stitching that is created with this fine, fine thread. Much to my amusement one of the thread companies is making a variegated silk. Delish, simply delish. The complimentary industry: needles, oh the variety of needles for both hand and machine quilting. Whoa! I’m totally digging wool and linen and heavier weight cotton thread too. And have you seen the embroidery floss? That’s brilliant if I do say so myself.

trapunto-scissorsAnd while we’re at it, yes, yes when I invented quilting I intended for machine quilting from piecing to finishing the binding. Trust me, machine quilters have some serious skills from understanding how tension works and how it changes with the given materials. And art quilters, I gave them a different vision of quilting all together. One that isn’t “traditional” or “normal” or “plays by the rules”. Ahem, there are no rules, I didn’t make any. No in the way that most people think. Most of my rules looked like:

Do good work
Find what works with you
Don’t worry about what others think

hand quilting 001The whole point of both hand and machine work is for quilters to take their creativity to a whole new level or quite frankly be comfortable with whatever method they choose. To quote Mr. Rogers, “everybody’s fancy, everybody’s fine, your body’s fancy and so is mine” (admit it you’re singing it now aren’t you), each quilter is different, their quilts are different and unique. When I invented quilting I expected, wanted this, quilters to take quilt making in a direction that makes them happy, to grow and explore. I wanted quilters to work with color that resonates within their soul, to not worry so much about what other people think about their choices. A natural outgrowth of this is quilt competitions. Yes it is a natural outgrowth that encourages quilters to do their very best. And that’s essential. However, the side effect that I don’t like that quilters feel diminished if their quilts don’t do well in a competition or diminished when they do this type of quilting or that type of quilting. Yeah, No. I can’t help that though. As much as I’d like for this not to happen it will continue, quilters have feelings and they need to be honored.

When I invented quilting guilds of all kinds, a great variety of quilting magazines, websites, blogs, tutorials and social media were all a part of that plan. Any way for quilt makers to connect and enjoy the company of one another. It’s an important component of the overall connectedness intended in the quilt making process.

When I invented quilting is a tongue in cheek piece written because:

I’m pretty hilarious. I’m wildly popular and pretty and wicked smart. And because I can.

Happy Quilting!