Sometimes we need a quilting design similar to a grid, but easier and faster. Diane-shiko has filled that need for me and for my students for several years now, and I still love it, the look of it, and quilting it. However, perhaps 2010 calls for a new, "Relaxed" Diane-shiko!
In this version, you have all the advantages of Diane-shiko with half the quilting, and less stress.
It consists of marking a regular, even design with either a ruler or Grid-Marker stencil (June Tailor) in a 1/2"format, but quilting around
the marked lines free motion, not trying to stay on them, aiming for the intersections instead and hitting those precisely.
When I began this design, photo above, I was a little slip-shod, and sort of raced along thinking this will be fast and easy. Although, doing only the lines in this photo, or half of the Relaxed Diane-shiko, looks nice too! It gives an entirely different feel if it is only done in one direction, even though you must still mark the entire grid to get the intersections.
Going too fast and being lazy about hitting the intersections was a big Mistake! Take it slow and steady until you get the hang of it. I also did not put the magnifier on my Bernina and realized when I did look closely that I was "near" the intersections of the two marked lines, but not always precise. I put the magnifier on, slowed down a bit to a nice steady even speed, and not only did I hit those cross-points perfectly, but my eyes were not tired and didn't tear up while quilting.
I love my magnifier.
For this design, traditionally called "Apple Core,"
instead of curving down one line and then back up to your starting point as you do in Diane-shiko to create small pumpkin seed shapes, or footballs, you curve along the line, first to the left in an arc, then to the right, and hit the intersections to the end of the line.
Do NOT go back up to the starting point as we did in Diane-shiko.
Instead, you travel OVER to the NEXT LINE. Do not go back up the line you just quilted. Instead each marked line gets only one pass, either towards you or away from you, with a bit of "travel" in between lines to get to the next line.
When you begin going back up on the adjacent line, this is when you stop the machine, look at the design, and figure out how to form the design by analyzing which side of the line you create the next arc.
The arcs should not be parallel as you look to the ones you already quilted, but mirror image. You will get two that bulge out, and two that come in towards each other. It takes a bit of thinking, as this is something you did NOT have to think about in Diane-shiko, but it gets so much easier as you go along with line after line of arcs.
After you do all the lines in one direction, you can turn the work for the second set of lines, or quilt sideways like you would have to in a real quilt, photo above. Check which side of the line to make the arcs to successfully create the shapes. If you don't do it correctly, the design won't form, and it will look like a mass of curvy lines, but no pattern. Not worth the time to mark it!
So figure it out, mark a sample like I did in these photos, on muslin, use a matching color thread so your stitches blend and don't distract you.
Above, this is what the design looks like after both directions are quilted. You can still see the underlying grid I quilted around.
You will notice the "apple core" shapes that form. Some of mine are smaller and weirdly distorted. That was before I figured out how to do it, and didn't have the magnifier on. Now that I know how to do it, I know to be more careful to hit the intersections precisely, and have this sample for reference.
I only forgot once and started going back up a line as I did in Diane-shiko, but three stitches in and I knew it was wrong, said "oops" and back-tracked out and over to the next line. If it had been in a real quilt I perhaps would have taken out those few stitches. Maybe, maybe not.
I did mark it "on point" and it looks good, but you can do it straight of grain as well because your quilted lines are curving and shouldn't cause pushing/pulling of fabric and distortion. See what you like, and what works best in your design area.
Why mark this with lines and not a stencil of the exact design? You could trace the stencil and quilt on the marked lines.
Yes, you certainly can do that. But.....this is faster and easier, and you can adjust the spacing to fit your design needs. My sample is a 1/2" grid, but a 1" grid might work for a big simple design on a busy floral. It gives almost a basket weave effect, very pretty, not just strange wandering and doodling.
Plus, after years of teaching free motion machine quilting, I realize most have a harder time quilting on marked lines. These marked lines are there to guide you, but you don't quilt on them, but around them. You only have to hit the intersections, not stay right on the lines all the time. A full stencil of this design is fine if you can quilt on lines well. I think this is faster and easier.
Almost every skill level quilter should be able to do this design with a bit of thought, practice, and concentration.
Above, my finished sample with the blue lines removed. Nice dimension, the distorted or uneven shapes blend in nicely, although now I will be able to do it with more even shapes.
If this were quilted on a print or even a marble or tone-on-tone fabric the variation in shapes would be totally undetectable, because the lines are curved and confuse the eye.
Remember, the easiest of all things to quilt are short even curves. That is what comprises this design, so go for it!
Mark a small sample today, use these photos for reference, and add a new design to your library. The photos are close-up shots; the design doesn't look this HUGE in real life.
Yes, for you small-scale fans, you can do this even smaller on a grid marked less than 1/2".
Hope you like this - I'll try and get a sample done on pretty fabric and post it soon. Try a sample yourself, have it for reference, and I bet you have a spot in one of those tops that need to be quilted for you to use this lovely all-over design.
It can look traditional, sweet, funky, edgy - all depending on the fabric, scale, thread, color. You are the artist.
Meanwhile, keep quilting - your work gets better every day.