Finding a balance in quilting

April 9, 2013

If you were thinking that today's article would be about time management – surprise! That's a great idea for another time, but for today we're talking about getting your designs to balance properly on the quilting surface.

Show season is gearing up quickly. Entry deadlines are fast approaching. It's common to try to throw every conceivable technique into a project with the hopes of impressing judges and garnering blue ribbons. However, the kitchen sink approach isn't the best answer in most situations. Use a critical eye when designing both your quilt top and the quilting that will enhance it.

When planning the quilt top layout, strive for color balance. For example, if you place dark colors near the top of your quilt and lighter ones near the bottom, the quilt will feel top-heavy. Also plan for "negative space" where your eye can rest as it views the pattern. Negative space is normally the area where quilting will show up the most. Think solid-looking fabric or background pieces. Choose your thread carefully in the negative spaces. Sometimes those spaces can be enhanced with contrasting or variegated thread – after all, it shows up the most there! But it will also negate the negative by making that space more dominant and busy instead of calming and restful for the eye.

Design balance also includes quilting density. Micro quilting is in vogue as quilters see just how small they can quilt. But if you go crazy with detail in the center of your quilt, and then neglect to carry that density through to the outer borders, you'll surely be standing and saluting your quilt as it waves back at you! Inconsistent quilting density is a major contributor to the problem of flapping borders – well, that and poor piecing.

If you attend quilt shows in your area, take photos* of the quilts that do a good job balancing color, design and quilting. These fundamentals are very important skills to acquire whether you just quilt for the fun of it, or you quilt to make some dough!

*Only take photos if you have permission from the artist or event staff. Even with permission, you should refrain from publishing photos of quilts on Facebook (or other online outlets) unless you have a written release and are providing recognition to the artist. Click here to read our article about Quilt Show Etiquette.

Written by APQS Team

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