Okay, I’m totally taking a conversation with the comments to heart and brain and in quilt-teacher fashion addressing the larger group of students as the information is pertinent to all.
Where do I begin?
How do I decide what motifs to use? How do I choose what weight and color thread? What batting do I use? What backing?
At the end of the beginner free motion quilting class, if students bring in quilts we’ll take a little bit of time to talk about the possibilities. It’s all about the ideas, not so much directions to quilt it. A “here’s what I might do” and “here’s what thread I might use”. I approach the conversation with “might do/use” rather than “will do/use” as I might change some component when I sit a the machine to quilt.
Where do I begin?
If it’s a patchwork quilt (as opposed to a whole cloth quilt) do the stitch in the ditch work. This is good work to do, even if, you are not entering the quilt in a competition. It’s more hours under the needle. You’ve been working with the fabrics already, however, as your stitching take note of the motifs you seen in the fabrics. Make a list for motifs you can choose from, note the ones you like and don’t like. From this list you like choose a couple to audition either on a sheet of vinyl with an erasable marker or use a printed photo of one of the blocks, draw the design on there. It’s practice either way.
How do I choose what thread weight?
Thread weight is as simple as asking, “do I want the quilting to really show or go into the background?” If the answer is “really show” go with a heavier weight thread, ie 4o wt and lower number; if the answer is “go to the background” then use a finer thread, ie 50 wt and higher number. The higher the number the finer the thread, the lower the number the heavier the thread.
How do I choose thread color?
In order to answer this with some clarity I’ll talk about why I chose certain threads and patterns for Tilde.
So here’s a close up of Tilde.
Colors: red, orange, yellow, black, gray, white. There are shades of several colors and the background behind the tilde shapes is a reflective metallic.
I had a King Tut variegated orange/red/yellow that I used on the black and white circles on the right.
On the metallic I used two a variegated and blue metallic around the orange tildes. Notice two that I have different motifs on the right and left side. Both offer visual texture.
When I got to these borders, I chose Twist. Twist has a color tone change every quarter inch, so very close. On the two fabrics it looks different however it’s cohesive enough to work. It stands out just enough but isn’t so present that it screams, “look at me! look at me!”
In the center of the quilt I chose a motif, bananas, and a thread color, red, that would pop. Around the center I chose to do some dense pebbling and swirling feathers. The pebble shape inspiration came directly from the fabrics that Keith chose.
Most of the color chosen for the quilting is taken directly from the quilt.
Having a simple explanation of how to use color helps when choosing color. I love Joen Wolfrom’s Color Wheel Poster from C&T Publishing. While this seems a bit complicated and a bit of a fuss, this basic understanding of how to use color made a huge difference early on in the quilting. It allowed me to make bolder choices, knowing that the color wouldn’t look awful.
Let the quilt do the work for you. Ask for suggestions. Asking gives clues and insight as to what works for you And what doesn’t.
The most important thing, seriously, is to give yourself permission to play with color, weight and motifs. If you don’t like it you can always take it out. While that Feels like a huge waste of time it’s not, as it give you quilting experience and information about what works for you.