Quilting Makes the Quilt

I've been to several local and regional quilt shows, which are generally guild-sponsored, and seen some great quilts. I'm frequently disappointed, though, at the actual quilting of the quilts on display. I know that every quilt is not destined for intricate, custom quilting, but I get tired of seeing the same two panto designs applied to half the quilts, and a big meander with variegated thread applied to the other half. Boring. My quilts, at least, deserve better, no matter what their purpose. Thoughtful quilting doesn't have to be detailed, but it does have to complement the quilt design.

Because I enjoy the quilting process as much or more than the piecing, I always look at it when I look at quilts. I look for good design choices and motifs that "work" with the quilt. There are allover patterns that work, but I'm usually drawn to the seriously custom work -- it's inspirational to see how people approach design differently. A bigger show (in this case, World Quilt in New Hampshire) helps fill the creative "tank"...

Here's an example (please click for bigger image):
Amethyst Arcs - detail
This quilt by Rosemary Archer is based on a Judy Martin pattern, and this photo is a detail shot -- I didn't even photograph the full quilt, since a) I have the book, b) unlike Colene, purple is so not my color, and most importantly, c) the quilting makes the quilt.

So what's so great about the quilting? Take a closer look -- there is a really neat "ring" of quilting around each of the smaller stars that gives them equal visual impact to the bigger stars. That ring is composed of 6 concentric circles, arranged in pairs to create depth and definition. McTavishing and other kinds of swirly bits make up the background/filler quilting. The stars themselves are very lightly quilted -- enough to accent them, but not enough to flatten them into oblivion.

This is a great quilting solution, and one I know I wouldn't have thought of independently. Of course, I don't have the skills -- or the longarm! -- to do this myself, but nonetheless, it's quilts like these that make me happy I went to the show.


Dorothy said...

Call me names, but I really DON'T like McTavishing in most situations. It may require skill and time and talent, but to me, it's as much of a cop-out as the all-over meander. I'd have loved to see those circles complete, irrespective of the stars they were covering, and then something more angular or geometric instead of the McTavishing. Even pebbles or bubbles would have made me smile more.

But I do agree, the quilting does add so much to a quilt. Settling for an allover meander or SITD when so much effort goes into the piecing just seems like a disservice to the artistry of a quilt. Ya know?

Murphy's world said...

Hmmm I have to admit to doing a lot of all over meandering recently on my PURPLE LOL quilts, but I am new to the quilting of the quilts, for me the meander is a stretch. Someday I'll be able to do something more intricate and in pace with the quilt. I did like the quilting on your example quilt though, I've not seen anything like the circles. Colene :)

AmyB said...

@Dorothy: It seems like one or two quilting ideas permeate through the world at a time, and something like McTavishing (which I generally don't dislike) becomes so ubiquitous that it's boring. I'm always looking for a new and different approach, I guess.

AmyB said...

@Colene: Don't get me wrong -- there are times when an allover meander is completely appropriate and well-suited to the quilt. I generally like it more when the top is a more "blended" style, with lower contrast in the fabrics. Plus, knowing how to meander seems kind of like a prerequisite for some of the more intricate patterns.

Murphy's world said...

I agree, and since I'm in the pre-requisite learning stage, I don't feel bad doing a meander once in a while. But, I can't do them forever, so I keep trying new things and s t r e t c h i n g myself a bit.