Before we can begin machine quilting, we must choose our quilting designs. How, exactly, are we going to quilt our quilt? This can be a daunting prospect because there are so many choices and the options are endless. But it is an important design decision – just as critical to the end result as the choice of pattern or fabric. We continue our series on machine quilting this week with a look at allover machine quilting designs.
There are two main approaches to machine quilting design: allover versus custom fit. Allover quilting designs, as the name implies, are uniformly placed over the entire quilt surface. This approach seems to be favored by long arm quilters and their customers, possibly because it is easy, quick, and therefore less expensive. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that allover quilting is the best choice for the quilt.
Allover quilting designs work well when a quilt top is heavily pieced. The quilting lines play a supporting role so they don’t compete with the complexity of the patchwork. For the quilt Miles to Go Before I Sleep, I designed an allover straight line grid pattern that supported the patchwork but didn’t interfere with it.
Allover quilting designs can also be a good choice for utility or baby quilts where the quilting serves a purely functional role. I used an allover clamshell design on my niece’s baby quilt which also helped to soften the straight lines of the patchwork.
Scrappy quilts or quilts with busy prints are also good candidates for allover quilting where fancy or custom quilting lines would be difficult to see. This color wash section of an Irish Chain quilt was simply quilted allover with a diagonal grid.
Theoretically, intricate patchwork could be quilted allover in-the-ditch (that is, in the seam lines), but don’t discount other creative options. Quilting overlapping circles in the quilt Lake Ontario Fan echoed the patchwork circles in the quilt top.
The quilt Trinity is constructed with hexagon-shaped patches in the full color spectrum. In order for the quilting to support but also enhance the patchwork, I quilted a series of concentric hexagons all over this quilt.
In my opinion – and I freely admit my bias here – allover quilting designs are not appropriate for appliqué!
Longarm quilters often use pantographs for quilting allover designs. These are specially designed images that the quilter follows as the machine is moved from one end of the quilt to the other (also called “edge-to-edge”). While this method doesn’t apply to machine quilting on a domestic sewing machine, there are still plenty of options available for us to create that allover quilted look.
Some of them are more continuous than you might think at first glance. You might want to check out my posts on machine quilting clamshells (http://hollyknott.com/kathy/2012/07/machine-quilting-practice-2-clamshells/) and orange peels (http://hollyknott.com/kathy/2012/07/machine-quilting-practice-3-orange-peel/).
I should also mention that because I usually machine quilt with fine thread that matches or blends with my fabrics, I don’t actually tie off the thread tails. The method I use for starting and ending a line of stitching is described here: http://hollyknott.com/kathy/2012/06/beginning-and-ending-machine-quilted-stitches/
All the best,
Carolyn Hughey says
Thanks you for your information. I always struggle with how to quilt my tops. I am wondering, though, aren’t there a lot threads to tie off with these designs? They don’t seem to be continuous.
Great visuals and very helpful information.
This is great! I am wanting to learn how to quilt on my sewing machine and am really enjoying this series. Thanks!
Thank you for the visual images, before and after. I struggle with how to quilt and always seem to choose the easiest (SID) not wanting to compete with the top but seeing your suggestions has opened my eyes as other options.