Motifs are commonly used within custom fit machine quilting designs. They are a very flexible element since they can be any shape or size or style and can be placed almost anywhere in the quilt. We continue our series on machine quilting this week with a look at quilting motifs.
A motif is defined as a distinctive and recurring form, shape, or figure within a design. Machine quilted motifs are commonly placed in large, plain areas in a quilt such as setting squares. In this quilt, the patchwork Nosegay design was quilted as a motif in the setting squares.
Motifs can also be quilted on patches within a block, like these bugs…
… or they can cross over the patchwork seams and fill a block. In this example, the outline of an Oak Leaf and Reel block was quilted as a motif over four Lady of the Lake blocks in the quilt Be Still.
Motifs can be placed on sashing and borders too, but we will devote an entire future article to designing repeating motifs to fit a border. Here is an example of a bear paw motif randomly placed in the green background and borders around the Bear Paw blocks in the quilt Comfort and Joy.
There are many places where machine quilting motifs can be found:
- patchwork or appliqué blocks
- or draw your own from any number of inspirational sources!
Design principles apply when choosing machine quilting motifs for a quilt. Unity and harmony can be created by repeating shapes that appear in the quilt top. Add interest by incorporating areas of contrast, such as using curved motifs to soften straight lines of patchwork. Remember the principle of balance and distribute motifs evenly across the surface of the quilt. Movement and rhythm can be introduced or reinforced by well-placed machine quilting motifs.
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