Stacked Quilting Plan

Kimberlee Tanner

One of my favorite parts of the quilting process is to sit down with a top after it’s all done and figure out my quilting plan. This is my opportunity to decide what I want to accent and make a focal point and how to best elevate the entire design. I’ve found that the basic principles I learned in my art classes many years ago are so important to quilts and a quilting plan as well.

As you watch the video to see my process for creating a quilting plan for our Stacked pattern, I want you to pay attention to a couple different elements that I focused on this week.

  • Lines
  • Repetition
  • Contrast

The first main element of design I used in the quilting plan this week is lines. When you use lines, they naturally tell your eye where you want it to go and can draw focus to certain elements while also leading your eye around the entire quilt. Radiating lines like I used in this weeks plan are going to work as arrows, pointing directly to the element you want to have be the center of attention. Lines can also help to separate spaces and really define certain areas. When I’m using lines as a design element in quilting, I like to echo them, or create a channel. This leaves just a small amount of negative space which really acts as if you hit bold on the line. It will be much more powerful. Without that small echo (I usually do my lines about a 1/4″ apart when using them in this way), the quilting designs that fill in the spaces would butt up next to each other and the lines would be lost and the defined spaces would not be as prominent. So remember, if you really want the areas to stand out, use an echo, if you want more of a texture change and a less obvious transition, one line will be plenty.

The second element that I used in this quilt is repetition. For the areas of fill, you’ll notice I only picked 4 different designs and simply repeated them. Quilting doesn’t have to be complicated to leave an impact. Don’t feel like you have to have something new in every space. Oftentimes when we do this, it ends up feeling more disconnected and busy than cohesive. Don’t be afraid of repetition. If you have a large space to fill, you can vary the size and density of the same design to add variety, but still repeat the same shapes. You can also use the same fill in multiple areas around the quilt. I regularly only pick 2-4 fills when working on a quilting plan. This also helps when you are just getting started. Don’t think you need to know ALL the quilting designs before you can start a quilt, learn a few really well and get confident with them, then start creating quilting plans around those designs. You’ll know you will be able to execute it well and be satisfied with the finished product. After you are comfortable with those designs, then start slowly adding more to your repertoire.

The last main element in this quilting plan was contrast. All of the center shapes were curves, so I separated out the background using straight lines. I also used lots of straight lines in the quilting designs I chose for the circles and half circles themselves. Contrast creates interest in any art piece. When coming up with your own quilting plan, think about the elements that are in the top and how you can put in opposite elements to create contrast. If there are lots of curves in the piecing, use straight lines in the quilting. If there are lots of straight lines, mix things up with curves and swirly fills.

As you watch the video, I’ll walk you through each of these elements as I draw out the entire quilting plan. Take these ideas and try applying them to your own quilt tops to create custom quilting plans that will enhance the piecing and create a finished product you are sure to love.


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