Quilting Applique Blocks-Design Decisions
Later, I decided it needed a little (or a lot of) applique. Everything just flowed without a hitch. The quilt came together beautifully!
However, once the applique was finished and the quilt top complete, the quilt lingered….
The quilt top lingered for a very long time.
Basting quilts is one of my least favorite aspects of quilting.
Eventually, I made a backing and layered the quilt.
Paralysis by Analysis or FEAR?
Again, the quilt lingered…
One of the reasons I procrastinated on this quilt so often is I like it too much!
I really don’t want to ruin it with my quilting!
After each phase of quilting, I am struck with paralysis by analysis.
Getting Applique to Pop
My original plan for quilting the applique blocks was to quilt heavily around the hand applique flowers and leaves to really make them pop!
And they do…
But they look naked…unfinished!
Modifying the Original Quilting Plan
I decided to add a little bit of detailing within each flower.
And the best thread choice was a heavy weight thread.
How to Travel Stitch with Heavy Thread
You know I LOVE heavy weight thread because it really shows off the quilting line.
However, when you need to travel from one applique to another–heavy quilting still really shows off the quilting line.
Now here’s the dilemma…
In order to travel from one applique to another, I either had to design a quilting motif that would connect the applique or cut off and create a knot after each row of quilting.
I HATE KNOTS!
So I tried to design a continuous quilting line for the applique.
My first attempts at designing the applique were not working out, so the quilt got shoved aside.
And there it lingered!
While cleaning my sewing room a few weeks ago, I folded it neatly on my sewing table–front and center!
It was time to make a decision.
Do the Hard Thing
Sometimes, procrastination is because we don’t want to make a decision, other times it is because we don’t want to do something hard.
I decided to go with the knots.
While knotting off after each applique will take many extra hours than a continous line, for this quilt it is the only answer.
I would regret anything else.
BERNINA 770QE to the Rescue!
I have two sewing machines set up in my studio, A BERNINA 770QE domestic sewing machine and the BERNINA Q20 sit-down long arm. I LOVE them both!
The Q20 has a huge harp space, but only the B770QE has the convenient push-a-button knot that cuts the bobbin and top thread at the same time!
While I did all the background quilting on the Q20, I decided to move to the B770 to complete the applique.
Relax and Enjoy
Now that I’m settled in to stitching and knotting every applique, I am enjoying the process!
And really, what’s a few more hours?!
What about YOU?
Do YOU ever procrastinate because you don’t like a phase of the quilting process?
Have YOU ever let a quilt linger because you are afraid to ruin it with your quilting?
Do YOU ever suffer from paralysis by analysis?
Have YOU ever decided the “hard way” is the “best way”? (Is quilting an allegory for life–LOL???)
We’d LOVE to hear!
Your Very Patient Quilter,
PS…All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy Quilts and are intended for personal use only. Feel free to re-blog, pin or share with attribution to Lori Kennedy Quilts. For all other purposes, please contact me at Lori@LoriKennedyQuilts.com. Thanks!
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42 responses to “Quilting Applique Blocks-Design Decisions”
The answer to all your questions is YES! I absolutely have let projects sit because I couldn’t decide what to do with them, or because what I think should be done is too hard or too much work. (Like ripping out quilting I don’t like, or fixing a block or unit that got turned the wrong way). Like you, I hate basting. I have many tops that need quilting, but haven’t made myself do the basting yet. Now that we moved, I’m not even sure where I will do my basting. I used to use the dining room floor, because it was a big area of linoleum. New house has only hardwood floors and carpet.
Barb, I had the same problem: hardwood and carpeted floors. I backed the car out and vacuumed the garage. I taped an old large sheet to the garage floor and then used this surface to spray baste my quilts. Only do one layer at a time and spray no more than half before smoothing on the batting or top. Then a very few strategic pins in the corners or long edges and it was ready to quilt! The sheet will be sticky with some overspray, so fold it up and store for doing the next quilt. Worked great for years until I bought a quilting frame for my domestic machine. Hope you get back to quilting!
Ok you made my day. I also choose to use a combination of my Handiquilter machine and my Bernina to do my quilting. I have been “told” I MUST stop, raise the bobbin thread and hand bury each stat and stop. Well that ain’t happening and as I have other things to do. So, quilt on, enjoy the process and always remember, we do this because it is FUN.
Try using a folding 6′ table (or 2 depending on the size of the quilt) and pipe insulation or pool floaty tubes. You wrap the fabric up on the insulation or pool floats and then do the same with the backing and batting; you will need 3 pieces of insulation or floats, 1 each for the top, batting, and backing…and you can tape shorter pieces together with painters tape. Then you position the wrapped tubes on the table and unwrap and pin baste the 3 layers together. There are lots of YouTube videos showing this method. I use it and it is so much easier than crawling on the floor, not that I even have that big a space on the floor; I use the tables in the hall of the house. You can use the same method outside if you spray baste, too.
GrrannyH, thanks. I will have to look up those videos. I have heard of that pool noodle method before, but always wondered if it would work well, since the backing is not held taught at all. When I do it on the floor, I tape the backing down.
When I used the pool noodle method, I used painters tape and taped the backing fabric, batting and top fabric each to a separate noodle!
The noodles kept moving around so I stuck tent poles through the middle of the noodles. They were stiff then !.
I have a queen size quilt I pieced and sandwiched together but that’s where it sits. I have an idea of how I want to quilt it but I just cant pull the switch! It’s been laying there about 4 years now. I feel your pain but my quilting skills cant compare to yours.
Debbie – the last time I had no idea how to quilt my quilt, I took pictures of it, then used some app (I forget which) on my iPad to doodle quilt designs on the pictures. That helped a lot.
Dang girl, you always have the best ideas!
I forgot to say, I LOVE your quilt! That extra quilting on the applique adds so much…really beautiful!
Same! I have definitely had quilt tops sit around unfinished from indecision.
I must say, it’s very clear that you made the right decision–LOVE the quilting in the flowers and leaves!! 🙂
Oh, my! This is my constant challenge … I am a proficient and productive hand applique-er yet stymied by the quilting. Your quilt is lovely – the applique adds a very special something to the simplicity of the piecing to make the look complete.
Thank you for a good message on my birthday!
I have put off even making an applique quilt. Now one reason out of the way for not starting one
Your flowers and leaves are not “naked” any longer. The choices you made for them are perfect! Can’t wait to see the finished quilt!! And it will be finished while you are still young enough to enjoy it!😊
That quilt is on it’s way to heirloom GORGEOUS! Oh, yes, I do procrastinate. And it is analysis paralysis, for sure. How should I quilt it? Should I use rulers? What motif to I want? Should I do an all-over design? And on and on. I don’t like basting either! Thanks, Lori, I don’t feel so alone if you do it too.
I have a beautiful unfinished wall quilt with applique and trapunto that I am afraid to ruin with quilting. However, the stars are aligning! I have 3 women’s shelter quilts ready to quilt – so lots of practice AND an upcoming class with Patsy Thompson on ruler work. So I have a plan to finish my quilt.
I have an art quilt with applique leaves that I have been afraid to quilt for at least 6 years. I keep watching videos and getting new ideas about how to quilt it and the thread colors and threads to use. In a way I am glad that I waited, because now I know so much more than I did when I finished piecing it. But, I really need to start quilting it. I love piecing much more than quilting, but I have a sit down longarm machine, so I can’t justify to myself having someone else quilt it.
Lori, I have about 10 wallhangings that need to be quilted. I keep putting it off until I am a better quilter! I need to just start practicing until I am happy enough with my quilting! I’m not getting any younger!
I have found that charity quilts are the best way to practice.
I just love how you have transformed your appliqué from just ordinary to beautiful. One question, do you bury your machine made knots. If so, how?
Ms. “Slowski” ~ thanks for sharing truthfully, so that I know there is hope for me and my long-delayed project completions! I have been uncertain how much quilting to do on top of my applique florals, and your examples are perfect for me to emulate. Blessings!
Your quilt looks great, Lori—love the bright, clear colors! Yes, I do procrastinate on quilts, but often for good reasons. Sometimes, my maker skills have to improve to the level of my design skills. Sometimes, the original quilt design just didn’t work, and needs to be redone. Sometimes, a quilt requires a massive amount of concentrated time. And sometimes, I just don’t know what quilt motif to sew. I do believe quilts “speak” to us, and sometimes it just takes them awhile. Thanks for a thought-provoking post.
I prefer to tell myself that it may appear that I am not working on this or that project but it is consuming a great deal of head work.
Head work! Thanks, now I know what it is I have been doing for 5 months on a quilt a customer is waiting on..
Actually I just kept designing and made it too big for my skills.. 88 X 88 inches. My table is 42 X 56…It hangs off. I tried to pin a sandwich. That caused folds in the backing. I have it hanging over an aluminum pole for past 2 weeks..Maybe I will tap into more head work and discover a solution.. By the way, it is an Around the World with 2 1/2 inch squares. I have viewed some videos on youtube but those quilts are all way smaller. I was planning some FMQ on the 4 inch borders after quilting the center.
Lori, your flowers, their colors and complementary leaves, etc are so cheerful on the long overdue to be finished quilt. I keep telling myself how good it will feel to get mine actually done and delivered.
So do you let your machine ‘knot’ for you? I switch between tying off long strings & burying & using my machine’s function. I’m wanting to start entering quilt shows & wonder about this aspect when they’re judged.
Hi Lori. I feel your pain!! I used to struggle with the same knotting-is-such-a-drag problem. But since my quilting machine also ties knots, I do the same thing, but with only a slight difference. When I reach a stopping point, I press my knot button, but then I gently pull the quilt a couple of inches away from the needle, THEN I press the cut button. I can’t see underneath of course, but I know I’ll have a couple of neatly trimmed threads that I can easily bury – I hate visible knots. I don’t want too many threads hanging loose underneath while I’m working because of the potential tangling issue (made that mistake already), so I alternate between quilting a section and flipping it over to bury threads. I realize with a very large quilt this could be tiring, but it does gives some variety to the process.
Burying threads also can be a tedious job so I have a little trick I use to make it easier. I quickly run all of my thread pairs between my thumb and an ordinary kid’s glue stick. By the time I’m finished, the first ones are all nicely stiffened and quite easy to thread through a sharp crewel needle (large needle eye for old lady eyes) and whip right into the quilt. Once begun, this goes along quite fast and before I know it, I’m back to quilting some more of the top.
And perhaps this will make you feel a little better; I’ve had “analysis paralysis” for a few months now over the quilting of a Christmas-y Irish Chain table topper. Just not sure what I want to do. Sigh!
Nice trick! I have found that using the quick threading needles really saves time and frustration, too. It saves me from needing large needles that make large holes in my fabric.
Lori I love the flowers. Your work is perfect as always. I like to “thread paint” the details but you have to be careful of the back so sometimes I do partial quilting on flannel then do the back which only works on art pieces or small quilts. Your way is much neater. Beautiful job and worth the wait.
And yes I procrastinate but once in a while I get in the mood to clear out all ufos so I finish it, donate it or give it to someone who likes the quilting part more than I do.
Same Here. Analysis paralysis with a hand appliqued quilt. It’s been sitting for at least 3 years. Alternate pieced and applique blocks. (Edita Sitar’s Farm House) I also have the “hate to baste” issue, but your writing about all these obstacles is encouraging me to DO IT. I was thinking of appliqueing on top of some of the leaves but not sure about the fruits and birds. Maybe so. You said heavy thread, but the pictures don’t look too heavy – 40 wt? I have a 790 and seldom use the thread cutter but this could be a good place for it. Do you have any lock stitch set in? I’d love to see a Bernina video on exactly what your settings were and how you did this. Is there one ?
Your timing for this post could not have come at a better time. I have a small applique quilt, with lots of vines and leaves, and 2 birds (the strawberry thieves of Wm Morris reproduction fabrics). After initially agonizing that any FM quilting would ruin the applique, I tackled the negative space, excepting the birds. It looks not quite finished, but now I am energized to add some ‘feather’ to the birds. Thank you! 🙂
I work hard on a quilt I love, then make my quilt sandwich, then freeze! I draw with my finger and have lots of ideas, but it is scary to pull the trigger. My husband is my go to for advice. I always say, “I want your opinion, but may not do it your way.” He likes plain and could always be happy with only stitch in a ditch. Before I begin free motioning, he ALWAYS says, “You have worked too hard on it, so don’t screw it up now!” It always makes me laugh.
Oh my goodness, yes! I always linger when I get to the hard thing. I tell my students to be fearless and just quilt it. Sometimes I need to take my own advice!
I had to laugh when you said you were afraid to ruin the quilt with your quilting. You are one of the very best- anything you would do would be spectacular. I am glad you quilted the applique instead of leaving it blank- looks terrific.
Hi Lori… I don’t think you’ll ever be sorry of your decision to knot off each appliqué! It was a great decision. That quilt is absolutely gorgeous! It’s my favorite out of all the quilts you’ve shown us in your blog. I hope I’ll be able to make one similar one day soon. It’s mt bucket list quilt. There’s a few of them on the list, but this is my favorite by far.
You have such a gift. Thanks so much for all your guidance.
I always find that if I have a quilt that I procrastinate over, it’s because the perfect design will come to me when it’s ready. So I never worry, it WILL happen.
Thanks Lori for your inspiration and to all of your followers for sharing their process too. I look at your projects and tutorials and I feel so much more confident in my quilting. I’m getting better and have used many of your motifs in my small wall hangings. My larger quilts on the other hand need a lot more practice 😋
Your quilt came out beautiful! I know how you feel about procrastination! We don’t want to ruin our work, and sometimes, we have to think about it for a while to decide what route we are going to take in the quilting process. I quilt and knot off a lot when quilting appliqué. While it seems like a pain at the time you’re doing it and you think you will never finish, eventually, you do come to the end. I find that with all that work, I am always happy with the end result.
To the point where you wrote “I HATE KNOTS” I recognised everything! But at that point I would have just hand quilted it all: burying knots isn’t difficult in hand quilting and although a slower process the job would have been finished years ago!
Does the Bernina B770 really make a knot? The 440 QE has function “knot” but in reality makes 5 stitches on one spot resulting in a nasty hard “knot” on the back of the quilt.
Lori, my biggest dilemma when quilting my project, is how to quilt it. I have not been doing the quilting myself all that long. Do you have any suggestions on how to approach picking a quilt design? I too have a Bernina 770 WE & I have a
Handi Quilter Sweet 16. I tend to echo, stipple, stitch in the ditch & can now do a few more simple designs, but I would like to expand my abilities. Please give me some advice.
A faithful reader,
Procrastination is my middle name!
Been dealing with procrastination all my life. However, quilting has helped me get vistory over it. I learned to break each phase of the process down into simple steps. Step One didn’t seem so daunting then and it was easier to walk on through. However, I love Kenny Rogers song as a philosophy with this problem… “Know when to hold em and know when to fold em…” and I add : and don’t feel guilty about the folding! Enjoy the relief !
What size & what fiber is the heavy thread you use?