Over the years, quilting has become much more than a hobby; quilting has become an art. Designs can
now showcase new levels of intricacies, and stitches now capture artistic excellence. Quilts overall
have developed regional flavors, personal art forms and artistic expressions far beyond their humble
beginnings. Because quilting has become such an artistic form of individual expression, the new age of
quilting has influenced quilters to break molds and ideas previously established; quilters have begun to
quilt as they desire.
For this reason, quilting is now an exercise in self-expression and self-teachings. Beyond the basics of
piecing, padding and backing, we quilters must take our designs, patterns, fabrics and thread weights into
our own hands to develop artistic and expressive quilts. Let’s take a look at the steps involved.
To best design a quilt, it is important to study others’ quilts. These will often inspire you to incorporate a
design or stitch into your own artistic expression. Some great places to study quilts include quilt shows,
books and magazines, the internet and friends’ quilts. Each of these resources can be used to discuss the
quilts with the quilters, peruse the designs and intricacies at your leisure, obtain step-by-step instructions
and/or find insider tips.
Once you have inspiration, you should consider a few things to help decide on a design. First, considering
your audience will assist in the design process: A traditional or modern audience can influence you to
use different fabrics, colors or pieces. Second, fabric choice can determine a design. For example, a busy
fabric can influence a simpler design or a star pattern could prompt you to showcase a night sky design.
Proven Artistic Techniques
Design can be difficult when creating a truly artistic quilt. Thankfully, though, there are a few proven
artistic techniques that can help you decide on the perfect design. First, consider your scale and symmetry
to create impact. Next, use opposites to create contrast and interest, like curves on a mostly geometric
piece. Finally, crosshatch around applique, like icing on a cake, can make a plain quilt stand out.
The following tips may help your quilt express your artistic vision:
Backing should always complement your quilt yet not take away from its beauty. Busy fabrics
may be distracting and uncomplimentary, but can work in your design if the busy backing does
not show through the top design.
In batting choices, if you want an antique look after a wash, cotton is perfect because it shrinks to
make the quilt look well-used. If you want the quilt to remain new-looking after washing, wool
and polyester are your best choices. Beware of discount batting – you never know what you are
going to get.
Threads can offer you quilt a different feel, depending on the thread type. Cotton is made to blend
into the fabric. Poly/cotton is designed to showcase thread work, and monofilaments and other
specialty threads will either blend in or stand out, depending on the tread.
Quilting can be one of the most satisfying ways to express your creativity. As a truly artistic self-
expressive medium, quilting now transcends the traditional craft to the modern art, and quilters
everywhere are learning to develop outstanding fabric designs. These tips and design tricks may help you
design your next artistic vision, but it is you who must truly quilt as you desire.