Textures in Quilting

If you are accustomed to cross hatch or in the ditch quilting, you should experiment with texture by using other quilt patterns.

The fabric has texture, naturally, but you can add to it by creating texture with your quilting stitches.

When you quilt a pattern into your projects, you create a new texture. It is the space between the lines, called negative space, which gives your quilt texture. Quilting techniques like stippling are an example of negative space. The swirls are made to echo the previous one. The lines never intersect but continuously create negative space between each swirl. Feathered quilt patterns are other examples of how negative space can create texture in your quilts.

The loft of your quilt batting is also an important part of creating texture in your quilts. Low lofts create very little texture. Choose a batting that is thicker if you want to create texture with your quilting. A polyester blend batting is perfect for creating texture. You get some of the properties of cotton with the man-made fluff that comes with polyester.

Stitches that form curves and points not only develop texture, but they create the illusion of movement on the quilt as well.  This is because they encourage the eye to move in the directions of the curves or points.

Your choice of thread is also important in creating texture. If the thread is visible, it will distract from the texture. So, choose a thread that very closely matches your project. You don’t have to use invisible thread, just something that is a close match.  Also, make sure not to use a very heavy thread. As with thread color, once the stitches become visible, they are a distraction from the texture work.

Since you must take into consideration the color and weight of the thread, most quilters find it easier to  use a light, solid colored fabric for the quilt backing. It is possible, then, to create a beautiful whole cloth quilt of simple, solid colors when using textured quilting designs.

With that said, it is possible to create textured quilting even on your applique projects. Some quilters get into the habit of quilting around the applique motif and that’s it. You certainly can quilt around the motif, but you can also use textured quilt patterns to create the illusion of movement in the borders and in other areas of the blocks.

If you are not sure which textured pattern to use as your quilt design, you can always start with stippling. Another idea is to select a motif from the quilt to use as a quilt pattern. A simple flower in the fabric can be enlarged and transferred onto your project as a quilt design pattern.

You have a lot of choices when it comes to transferring a quilt pattern onto your projects.  Water soluble pens and pencils are choices. So is fabric chalk. Some quilters even transfer their patterns onto tear away stabilizer. They pin the stabilizer in place, then stitch right on top of the design and tear the excess away. This method may be good for small projects, but it could get rather costly if you tried it on a quilt large enough to be used for bedding.

Still need a little courage to get started? Look through quilting magazines and online galleries for more inspiration. Then, select a pattern and try it yourself on a sample patch.  Once you get the hang of transferring the pattern, you can practice sewing it by hand or machine. If using the machine, be sure to lower your feed dogs so you can be in total control of the fabric’s movement.

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