Monday, March 11, 2019

Quilting a Custom Design

Today I want to share how I put together the beautiful quilting on the Clover Field Runnerin hopes that by seeing the design broken into parts, it won't be such a mystery and maybe a quilting style that looks possible for any project. 

Clover Field Runner quilting by QuiltFabrication

Looking closely at the quilting, it's composed of lines and stippling, easily accomplished on either a longarm or a domestic machine. It just comes down to creative design thinking around the quilt blocks, and then thinking through the quilting steps to successfully achieve the design. 

Let's start with my favorite design tools: a piece of vinyl, found at any fabric store, and a an Expo fine tip WET erase marker (affiliate link).

I used to use the dry erase markers, as they're easily found in most stores, but the ink is super hard to remove from the vinyl. Even with dry erase cleaner, the vinyl does not come completely clean. With the WET erase markers (affiliate link), removal only takes a spritz of water and a paper towel - so much easier!

So here's the vinyl laid over the quilt top, with the majority of the design drawn in. It becomes my reference guide while quilting. 

quilting design on vinyl

Important note when using vinyl and any marker: place tape on all edges of the vinyl to eliminate the chance of drawing on the quilt top. Yes, I have done that, and the marker did not come out. So, play it safe, and tape those edges!

My first step in quilting is to stabilize the quilt. This includes stitching down the edges of the quilt in the work area, and completing any stitch-in-the-ditch (SID) around borders and blocks. Once the SID is done, the quilting moves inside the blocks, here with the Irish chain design in the clovers.

SID and inner clover design

Oh yeah - sorry the pictures are not the best. Picture taking took a backseat to the quilting process!

The next step is to form the backbone or outline of the next major elements. Here, it's the two large squares around the four-leaf clover,

square outline

and the other smaller squares in the design. 

smaller square outlines

I always like to add a 1/4" outline stitch around elements, as it really helps the element pop. Here, it's inside the large and small squares.

quarter inch outline

Now comes the addition of one more design element, the triangles coming off the clovers. And from there, I can fill in the small area with stippling.

interior triangles and stippling

Being in the stippling mode, the other areas that need that motif are filled in.

stippling in other background areas

I could have stopped here and left the band around the square puffy, though it's a bit big in surface area. If left empty, the quilt could become 'wavy' because of the areas of really dense quilting combined with big empty areas. 
And that's not a good combo! Quilting should always be balanced, no matter the style.

The final finish is the straight line quilting, backtracking over previous stitching to fill in the area.

straight line stitching in an odd shape
See, it's really not that complicated when all the parts are broken into smaller pieces to quilt. It just takes creativity and planning, with a chance to grow those quilting skills.

Happy Quilting!

Follow on Bloglovin


  1. Beautiful quilting!! Did you use a ruler--all of you straight lines are so crisp and evenly spaced.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Kat! When quilters see how a 'what looks complicated' design broken down, maybe they'll be more inclined to try it. That's my goal in writing this blog.

  3. My question is the same as Liz's. Did you use a ruler for the straight lines? If not, you're much better at free motioning straight lines than I am. Thanks for the detailed explanation of how you planned and implemented the quilting.

  4. Thanks for this step by step explanation. I did wonder, earlier in the week, how you designed the quilting to perfectly compliment the patchwork.

  5. Oh neat neat Susan - Such a bright and pretty table runner! So very creative!

  6. Hi Susan! Thank you for your detailed explanation. So, you did not accomplish all of this in one continuous thread session. I really love the 1/4" stitching around and inside all of the main components - it makes them really pop. That along with the stippling and straight line areas really highlight the clovers. ~smile~ Roseanne

    1. The design had to have numerous stops and starts, and I'm ok with that. There has to be give and take when quilting!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this. I am bookmarking this post, because my brain really does become overwhelmed with the big picture and struggles to break it down into smaller pieces. This is perfect!

  8. Gosh, Susan -- I'm doubly impressed because this is a fantastic tutorial (and your photos are VERY clear to show what you're doing, so don't worry about photos not being good enough!) -- AND you've managed to be posting a St. Patrick's Day quilt in the week before St. Patrick's Day!! I am never organized enough to be working on anything seasonal at the right time of year. I love how you are using the clear upholstery vinyl to preview and keep track of your quilting designs as you work your way through the quilting process, and I do have a roll of that stuff that I bought for the Piece O Cake appliqué method. Love finding new uses for things I already own! I really, really appreciate how you walked us through your order of quilting. I initially thought you were supposed to do ALL the quilting from left to right with each quilt advance and ran into trouble when I was doing SID and then lots of dense fills on the left side of the quilt before I'd done any stabilizing to the right side except for basting the quilt edges. Your way makes more sense to me. Just to clarify, do you do the SID first for the ENTIRE quilt and then roll it back to the top before adding ruler work and background fills, or do you SID and then ruler/FMQ fill what's in your available work area only, advance the quilt to the next section, and repeat the process with each advance of the quilt? Not sure I'm wording this properly; hopefully you know what I mean. Your shamrock quilt is lovely and the quilting adds so much.

  9. Thank you so much for the explanation of how you do this! I always am at a loss when it comes to quilting design and this helps give me some great ideas! Your quilt is beautiful by the way! Happy St. Paddy's Day.

  10. Thanks for the lesson. Your idea of breaking it down is much like breaking down a quilt pattern into smaller easy to achieve parts. Your quilting looks fabulous I must say!

  11. Thank you for the awesome quilting lesson! I want to run out and get some vinyl and start mapping out some quilting. And I love your shamrock runner. Beautiful!

  12. The perfect quilting made this runner absolutely sing!


Thank you so much for just made my day!