Friday, December 8, 2017

Pine Needle Quilting

It's December, which means Christmas, and therefore pine trees, like this one in Santa's Helper.

Santa's Helper Christmas Tree

There's a lot of quilts that have pine trees in them, usually as some sort of triangular shape, like my Holiday Forest table runner. 

Holiday Forest table runner

For these trees, the quilting is pretty simple, since the trees are far away. If they were closer, like the portion of the tree in Santa's Helper, then the quilting should make the tree look like a tree.

Santa's Helper Christmas tree closeup

So, how to quilt pine needles such that they're not a mess of spikes, or so dense one can't tell they're pine needles?

Here's my approach.

How to quilt pine needles: 

first, consider scale.

The closer the view is of the tree, the bigger the needles need to be. In Santa's Helper, the tree 'branches' are around 6" tall, which means the needles should be 1" - 2" in length. If the view is further out, with 'branches' 2" tall, then the needles would be around 1/2" long. 

second, think branching.

Pine trees, especially those used for Christmas trees, are full of multi-branching branches. Think about quilting lots of branches, then needles, off of one main branch.

third, mix up the length of the branches and needles.

To give the tree dimension, it's important to vary branch/needle length within the scale. Pine needles and branches go in all different directions, so by varying the length, a 3-D illusion is created on a 2-dimensional plane.

lastly, nest the branches.

Nesting - made by quilting the design above and below a horizontal plane, helps to blend the rows of needle and branch quilting together. If you've ever quilted pantographs, those that have wavy designs result in nested rows, to give the design an all-over look and hiding the individual rows.

For this quilt, I marked a wavy line on the fabric, which helps with the branch/needle spacing and placement within the area. It's not crucial to follow the line, but it does help with nesting. 

Ready to see those pine needles quilted?

And here's the finished tree area featured in the video.

Santa's Helper finished pine needle quilting from video

And now the tree looks like a pine tree, perfect finish!

Happy Holidays

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  1. I love when a quilt design is so simple yet, adds so much to the quilt design. Perfect choice for bringing your tree to life. And great tips for stitching this design.

  2. Your quilting really makes both projects stand out even better!
    do you free motion quilt on a domestic or long arm?


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