Those dreaded words. Makes you groan and want to pile that quilt top onto all the other UFO's sitting in your closet, doesn't it?
But really, quilting shouldn't be that way. By working within your skill level (and yes, quilting does take practice), the quilting is easier to tackle if broken into steps. And no, the quilting doesn't have to be super dense to look fantastic.
So how do I approach the quilting part? First I decide what the purpose of the piece will be. Decorative can go with heavy quilting. Baby quilts, less to keep them soft. Throw or bed quilts can go either way. Just try to keep the density consistent throughout the whole quilt.
I draw with dry erase markers on a piece of clear vinyl placed on top of the quilt, with tape on the edges to prevent accidentally marking the quilt top (dry erase marks DO NOT wash out of fabric). Then I start drawing, starting with the simple elements first. The following is the design I drew up for Garden Stars, placed on a white background for visibility.
The squares are the easy, obvious parts, so they get seeds or petals along the chain.
Here they are on the quilt,
along with some curves in the adjacent triangle pieces.
The design around the big, open circles uses lines to connect point to point, and the seams of the piecing.
Once those lines and any other stitch-in-the-ditch work (yes, that has to be done - makes the quilt look better!) is complete, I consider the 'bones' to be done.
Then comes all the fills and pretty work. The flower takes advantage of the four squares, with a petal in each one,
a simple but effective design. On the quilt, this was created by marking with two different sized circle templates.
Now a word about washable markers. Yes, I use them in the area right before quilting it, and spritz it out with water right after that area is quilted. I do not let it sit on the quilt any longer than necessary. And only once have I had a problem removing it - check out my tutorial on Removing Blue Marker.
Once the flower petals are stitched, a simple stipple fills in the background,
making it really stand out. Of course, there are many other options that could have been placed in this space - one has to just let the creativity flow!
And that's what happened when quilting these motifs. Looking closely at the design on the vinyl versus the actual stitching, I changed the fill placement around the flower, giving it a square-in-a-square look. Sometimes changes are necessary during the quilting process, and that's okay.
The last area is the quilting a square around the four patch square,
again, using washable marker to mark the square and the direction of the fill. Otherwise, it could easily get quilted incorrectly.
Now that the design has been broken down into parts, it doesn't seem that complicated, does it? Start simply, and build from there, and you'll see quilting in a whole new way!