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Irresistible Inspiration

“Quilt as desired” - the three most feared words in a quilter’s life. The fabric has been cut and stitched together. The top is sandwiched with batting and a backing. And now it is time to decide what quilting designs to use to finish your masterpiece. If you are lucky the pattern has given you some ideas, however, most simply end with the dreaded “quilt as desired”. So now what?


Fortunately there are a few guidelines that can help when you get to this stage of the process. First, how is the quilt going to be used - displayed on a wall or bed or snuggled with while watching a movie. If it is going to be used and subsequently washed numerous times then an all-over design is probably the best option. Conversely a custom design is fun for a wall hanging or bed quilt. Secondly, the design and techniques used in the quilt top as well as the fabric can play a role in deciding what quilting design to use.


Once you have decided to do a custom design on your quilt then you can let your creativity flow in deciding exactly which designs to use. I have stitched several custom quilts in the last few months so I will use those as examples to guide you through the process of deciding which designs to use.


Meredith stitched two wall hangings that featured a panel of the Lady in Gold painting by Gustav Klimt. I really enjoy quilting panels because I often just make it up as I go rather than deciding everything before I start. This panel in particular was fun because I let the painting dictate the design such as the flowing lines in her dress and the swirls in the chair’s upholstery.

Roma had been gifted a couple of antique tops that family members had made so I felt that it was important to choose designs that would reflect the era in which they were made. The patterns used in the quilt tops also guided us in choosing the quilting designs. Roma’s friend, Vicki, helped me and we decided that I would do radiating lines and clamshells on the Dresden Plate quilt and continuous curves in the snowball quilt. I also added a feather design to the outer border of the snowball quilt.


Julie made a t-shirt quilt using her son’s racing shirts. She requested that I stitch straight lines throughout the quilt to mimic racing stripes. Given the many patterned squares and rectangles that she used between the shirts I was able to stitch a variety of horizontal and vertical lines that added an interesting texture to this fun quilt.

I had so much fun getting my creative juices flowing when I stitched the Lion Abstractions quilt - pattern by Violet Craft - for my new granddaughter, Ruby Grace. I could have chosen to stitch wavy outlines that emphasized each of the triangular-shaped pieces thought out the entire quilt but opted to use this design only in the mane. I then stitched a stipple design to make the lion’s face stand out in the center of the quilt. I also stitched pebbles and continuous curves to make the eyes stand out. The nose, mouth, and forehead were highlighted with an outline filled with wishbones. Finally I added radiating lines in the outside border to complete the top.


Peggy made a special quilt for her granddaughter who will graduate from high school next month. It features several shades of solid blue stars surrounded by a lot of navy blue negative space. I knew immediately that I would choose a dense design such as pebbles in the background to make the stars pop. The challenge was to find just the right design for the negative space in the large outer border as well as a couple of places in the quilt’s center. I finally settled on a feather design and Peggy was pleased that it added some softness and femininity to the solid fabrics. I also added a wavy triangle design to the two inner borders to provide some contrast.

Katie made a bed-size quilt which featured 50 embroidered blocks of state flowers that had been stitched by her grandmother. She requested that I not stitch over her grandmother’s beautiful embroidery so I suggested a simple stipple that would provide some texture around each design. I also stitched an all-over flower in the setting blocks that matched the design in the fabric.

Hopefully now you won’t moan and groan when you see the words “Quilt as desired” at the end of the pattern. Just look at it as an opportunity to be creative!