Friday, July 17, 2009

Marking quilting designs

It’s so much fun to quilt freehand, but many times, even in a folk art, informal, or pictorial style quilt, it’s nice to be able to plan ahead, plot out your special design, and mark it on the top. You have the control to see where it looks best, move it, change it, be the designer who steps back and looks at the result before stitches go in.

I love to do freehand work, but I do also like to control where designs will end up on my quilt top and how they will look. Often as a counterpoint to freehand designs I definitely like to mark some repetitive, symmetrical design and quilt on the lines rather than “winging it” when the quilt is under the needle.

When I first began quilting I marked everything, absolutely everything. I was way too afraid to try to quilt with no lines. Now I love to do that, and if I draw my own designs many times change them as I quilt them, when I see they would be smoother, better, easier if I make a quick modification. But, those lines are still guiding me, giving me the basis of the design.

You can choose from purchased standard stencils, newer designer stencils, basic traced quilting designs from books or magazines that you must do with a light box, or tracing around moveable motifs.

I really like to draw out a design on freezer paper, cut it out, and place it on the quilt and trace around it. The motif can be pressed with an iron for easier tracing, but be careful not to press any previous blue washout markings when you do this.

For me, with years of experience, I only trace major elements—the outside border, crucial interior lines—and do much of the interior work freehand. Designs will look alike at first glance, but will have variety of detail because of the freehand work.

You can also choose to change out some of the interiors for more interest. Fill one flower center with clamshells, and others with tiny leaves, rocks, or bananas. It also keeps work interesting for you.

Sandra Leichner’s blog shows you how she does freezer paper stencils for her original designs: The entry is titled Freezer Paper “Stencils.”

Try marking a few designs. It’s easier than you think, can be your original work or something standard, and it is SO nice to quilt when the lines are there for you to follow.

Keep quilting, your work gets better every day.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for starting a blog, and thank you for sharing so much information, so many hints. I have read Sandra's method using freezer paper, now yours, and will use more of it myself for hand quilting. And I will continue reading to see what else I can learn.
Judy B

Diane Gaudynski said...

Freezer paper is indeed our friend. I like to draw out my long marked original border designs on it too. It rolls up like a scroll for storing, is easy to erase when you are sketching with a pencil, and is pretty durable.

Anonymous said...

Do you find the freezer paper shrinks some when you iron it? Maybe I need to use a certain brand. Any thoughts on this?


Diane Gaudynski said...

Joan, I only just touch the freezer paper with the iron lightly to hold it down, and for a single motif only hold it with my fingers and trace around it. When I use the iron I use a low heat setting.

I like its weight - heavier than copy paper so it lasts longer when you are tracing around it, but not hard to cut out. I use Reynolds, haven't had any issues with it. I always press it to the back of fabric I use for hand writing my quilt labels too and it works fine for that. Maybe try no steam or a lower heat setting?

Babette van Hattem said...

Diane, I love your books, but being able to follow your blog is super. I've learned a lot from your books, love the fullness of your designs and in my last quilt I've putted the Diane sashiko. I really hope you will be able to come to Europe one time to Holland or Italy. Than I will be able to follow some advanced lessons. All the best for you, Babette van Hattem.

You can find what I learned over the years at (see workshops) or (maybe nicer to read, google will translate!)

Babette vam Hattem said...

The other addres is
I forgot the WWW.

Diane Gaudynski said...

Babette - thanks! Glad you liked the Diane-shiko; it is super pretty in quilts and not that hard to do, even for a beginner. I hope to give you valuable quilting advice on this blog to help you with your own quilting on a home machine. Books are nice, but I can go into more detail here.