When you look at a quilt pattern, what do you see? Can you peer deeply into it, or is it more of a listening experience? Laura has a few ideas on how to bring out that piece's voice.
When I get ready to machine quilt a new quilt, I open it up and spread it out on my table. It stays there for a few days to a week usually, until I can clearly “hear” what it has to say. Sometimes the quilt shouts out to me, loud and clear, and lets me know what it wants to say. The design ideas immediately come to mind, and I know if the quilt wants something soft and voluptuous to soften very angular piecing, or if it wants something simple. Maybe it wants dramatic designs and has a very strong need to express something spectacular in some of its more open spaces.
Sometimes the quilt is “about the piecing” and not so much about the quilting design. Usually the quilt tells me this right away, and I can see what parts of the pattern need to “stand down” and what parts of the pattern need to rise up and shout out to the world.
This process is slightly different for every quilt. Each quilt has its own unique voice, just like people, and wants to express itself differently. There have been times when I have quilted the same quilt pattern for different people. Because the fabric and color choices are not the same and the quilt maker is not the same person, the quilt has a different voice and therefore the quilting pattern never turns out exactly the same.
Sometimes my inspiration comes from the quilt maker as well as the quilt itself. I once had a customer bring me quilt blocks assembled by her mother who had passed away a number of years ago. When the blocks were assembled and the top ready for quilting, the emotion I felt from the daughter about her mother’s handwork, came through to me. I quilted hearts in her sashing and flowers in her border. The particular designs I chose for the entire quilt flowed from what I knew would be meaningful for the daughter in memory of her mother. The joy in her tears when I returned the quilt to her is one of my happiest moments.
My point is not to tell you what types of designs to use in what types of quilting spaces, but to get you to think about the quilt from the quilt’s perspective. Listen to what the quilt has to tell you, open your heart and your mind and the particular designs will come to you.