All in the Details: Use Machine Quilting to Add Texture

22 Nov 2011

Free-motion machine stitched art quilt
by Terry Grant.
pokey boltonChoosing the right machine quilting pattern for your piece is as important as the thread and fabric selections. The right pattern in the right places will enhance the design and bring out the details. A poor choice will detract and even distract from the overall effect.

Fiber artist Terry Grant was pondering just this question when she considered how to free-motion stitch her art quilt based on a photo she had taken in the town of Baños, Ecuador.

"I had been experimenting with a sketchy kind of stitching and thought this might be a good way to suggest patterns and details in my piece," Terry explains in Creating Detail and Texture with Free-motion Quilting, her interactive article in Quilting Arts In Stitches eMag, Vol. 3.

machine quilting vine
Close-up of vines from
In Stitches, Vol. 3.
"Unlike embroidery or heavy machine thread painting, I decided to quilt the simplified piece with a variety of designs that would merely suggest, in a loose and sketchy way, foliage, a rocky pathway, shadows and the textures of an aging building," she says.

"For the vine, I fused the individually cut heart shapes to a dark purple background to really emphasize the shapes. When I started to quilt them they needed little enhancement other than an outline and a center vein. Using a continuous line of stitching, I quickly added those details without taking a lot of care to make the design perfect. A spontaneous, flowing line adds a sense of energy to the vine," Terry explains.

machine quilting tile
Tile detail.
Similarly, the clay roof tiles created an interesting pattern on their own and required very little enhancement with stitching. Flowing lines suggested wood grain in beams and a rough spiral was enough to identify a circle as the cut end of a log beam.

"One of my favorite patterns was the uneven rocky pathway in front of the wall. I used the quilting line to suggest the uneven surface and groups of pebbles and stones. It didn't seem necessary to cover the surface with a solid pattern of quilting, so I quilted the pathway with some open areas between the textured details," Terry says.

machine quilting rocks
Detail of the free-motion quilting
for the rocks.
It's easy to see Terry's stitching choices and how they affect her quilt, because with an interactive eMag like In Stitches you can zoom in close, pan over the photos, and zoom out again. That's not something you can do with a print magazine.

What do you think of Terry's machine quilting choices? Did you learn something? Would you have done anything differently? Leave a comment below.


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Comments

carroll lee wrote
on 22 Nov 2011 9:37 AM

I love the piece Terry shows. The most important point I take from it is the art of blank space (the road a prime example). For me, it is very difficult to quit quilting and leave spaces alone. A timely thought, which I will definitely incorporate into the art quilt I am working on currently.

jph wrote
on 22 Nov 2011 10:44 AM

I have been lucky enough to see Terry's piece up close and personal several times. It is a lovely quilt with so many details to observe. I love the style she uses with the darker edges peeking out behind areas she wants to emphasize. Her stitching is very free and gives just the right amount of detail and structure to the piece.

-Jill, fellow Oregonian and apprentice art quilter

jph wrote
on 22 Nov 2011 10:44 AM

I have been lucky enough to see Terry's piece up close and personal several times. It is a lovely quilt with so many details to observe. I love the style she uses with the darker edges peeking out behind areas she wants to emphasize. Her stitching is very free and gives just the right amount of detail and structure to the piece.

-Jill, fellow Oregonian and apprentice art quilter

on 26 Nov 2011 4:09 PM

This works really well on small pieces.

On larger pieces where uneven amounts of quilting can lead to bulges - simply quilt the picture panel (with or without a backing layer) then add to main quilt AFTER the quilting on the main quilt has been done - then the detailed quilting cannot pull it all out of shape.

I usually join the two with a quilted line around the edge and along the main picture lines.

on 28 Nov 2011 10:13 AM

I constantly learn from the artists featured in your mag. I LOVE fiber art and am working on my skills. I get a lot out of the TV show, newletters etc. the details help me a lot. Thank you SO MUCH. Love, Jeanne

on 29 Nov 2011 5:56 PM

De verdad que estan hermosos todos , pero quisiera saber si hay algùn libro en español??para entender mejor.Gracias.