More Machine Quilting Background Fill

Are you surprised at how long we have been talking about machine quilting design? I must confess that when I started this blog series on machine quilting, I did not anticipate writing nine posts on the subject! But thinking about it now, I realize how important the subject really is. After all, if quilting makes the quilt, we better take the time to choose the best designs to showcase our quilt to its full potential.

If you are just joining us, here are the past eight articles on the topic of machine quilting design:

  1. Allover Machine Quilting Designs
  2. Machine Quilting In the Ditch
  3. Machine Quilting Motifs
  4. Machine Quilting Motifs in Borders Part 1
  5. Machine Quilting Motifs in Borders Part 2
  6. Machine Quilting Straight Line Background Fill
  7. Echo Quilting Background Fill
  8. Stipple Quilting

The ninth and final (I think!) article presents a sampling of some more machine quilting background fill options. In an attempt to compress the background around appliqué or quilted motifs, quilters are continually looking for other creative choices besides good old tried-and-true stippling.

Start with a teardrop (or other) shape and echo it four or five times, making each repeat slightly larger than the last. Start another teardrop at the base of the first and echo it. Continue in this manner until the background area is filled.

I used a teardrop background fill around the thread painted roses in this little postcard sample.

Random machine quilted circles effectively compress the background and can create the effect of pebbles or bubbles. Some parts of each circle may need to be stitched over in order to move to the next open space. The circles can be roughly equal in size or varied.

Although they weren’t actually quilted, I machine stitched circles to create “seeds” in my appliquéd pomegranates in Flourish on the Vine.

Orange Peel
The orange peel design, created by overlapping offset circles, makes an elegant and formal background fill. It would likely be drafted and marked onto the quilt top to keep the circles even, although I’m sure some quilters are able to quilt it randomly.

I incorporated this type of quilting in sections of Flourish on the Vine, and you can read here how I “marked” it.

Another formal, marked background fill is the clamshell design, based on a semi-circle.

Although it wasn’t used as a background fill, one row of clamshells was quilted around the pieced borders in Flourish on the Vine. Notice the row of orange peel quilted in the green border as well.

As the name implies, this type of machine quilting is characterized by random free-motion loops. Other elements can be incorporated along with the loops such as hearts, flowers or leaves.

I used this type of background fill, along with hearts, in the quilt Butterfly Kisses.

Created by award-winning longarm quilter Karen McTavish, “McTavishing” is another choice for machine quilted background fill. It may be a little more difficult to execute on a domestic machine, but I have tried it and it can be done!

Here is how it looks machine quilted in the background of Butterfly Mosaic.

Back to main

Leave a comment