Echo quilting is another way that background areas in a quilt can be compressed and filled. We have been looking at various elements that can be incorporated into a custom fit quilting design. After considering quilting in the ditch and motifs, we moved into background fills and examined straight line background fills last week. We continue our series on machine quilting this week by turning our attention to echo quilting.
As the name implies, echo quilting fills the background with echoes of the shape it surrounds. It is typically a random, no-mark technique with the spacing judged by eye or by the width of the presser foot. The distance between the quilted lines usually ranges from 1/8″ to 1/2″ and the lines remain evenly spaced throughout the background.
Suppose a flower was appliquéd or quilted as a motif. The first echo quilted line would outline the shape a fixed distance away from the shape.
The second line would echo the first…
… and so on. As the echo quilting lines get further away from the original shape, they start to lose definition. Points become rounded or disappear entirely. Eventually the lines reach the boundary of the block or quilt edge and must stop.
If desired, the remaining corners can be filled with more lines of echo quilting.
If adjacent shapes are echo quilted, eventually the quilted lines will meet and one line will surround the two shapes together.
Each echo can be quilted as a separate shape, stopping and starting a new line each time around, or the lines can be quilted in one continuous spiral.
Echo quilting emphasizes the shape or shapes it surrounds, both by compressing the background and by the impact created by the repeating lines. It is very often associated with Hawaiian quilting. But it can also give the impression of ripples on the water, hence it was the background fill I chose to use in my quilt Go Fish.
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