Modern Quilting Designs: Filling the Negative Space

7 Jan 2013

Clean lines and contemporary versions of traditional quilt patterns are the hallmarks of modern quilting designs. And while many modern-style quilters like to use simple, straight quilting patterns, others like to use the wide-open fields of solid fabric to display a variety of quilting motifs.

tiled quilt by angela walters
Tiled quilt design by Angela Walters.
Self-described modern quilter Angela Walters has developed some tips for stitching modern quilting design motifs that she demonstrates on "Quilting Arts TV" Series 1100.

If you are looking to break up the negative space around floating quilt block or other geometric pattern designs, Angela suggests you use the quilting to create a secondary design. This adds depth and interest to a quilt, she says.

Here are two ways Angela creates a secondary quilt design:

secondary quilt design by angela walters
Figure 1 (Photo by Angela Walters)
ghost quilting design
Figure 2
1. Use the quilting to extend the piecing. Doing that is as easy as quilting along a seam and continuing out into the negative space. (Figure 1) In the example shown, she extended the line beyond the piecing and then echoed back. Echoing the line allows it to stand out from the rest of the quilting and helps it stand out from the filler.

2. Create quilt "blocks" that look the same as the piecing in the quilt top-sometimes referred to as "ghost quilting." Just take inspiration from the blocks that are in the quilt top and quilt them in wherever you think they would look best. (Figure 2).

Another way Angela likes to use stitching motifs is in her "tiles" quilt design. This is really fun, like creating a puzzle for yourself.

Angela simply stitches connecting boxes on her quilt sandwich. You can draw out a plan beforehand, but Angela likes to wing it. She begins by stitching a box a few inches square on the quilt sandwich. Then, beginning on one edge of the square, she sttiches perpendicular to the edge, pivoting and stitching at an angle for a few inches to create another square, and so on.

Once she has covered the quilt sandwich with stitched boxes, she adds a line of parallel stitching inside each box to create the tile effect.

tiled quilt design
Quilting motifs are stitched inside the "tiles"
of Angela's design.

From there, Angela goes back in and adds her quilting motifs. Sometimes she uses the same quilting design within all the tiles, and sometimes she chooses different quilting designs.

This is a fun way to practice different quilt motifs, she says.

As someone who loves both the calm simplicity of modern quilting as well as the beauty of free-motion stitching, I will be sure to view Angela's "QATV" segments over and over.

You can, too: "QATV" series 1100 is now available on DVD and digital download.


P.S. What's your favorite way of adding texture to negative space in your quilts? Leave your comment below.


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Tune in to the latest season of 'QATV' to get fresh ideas for contemporary quilting, explore a multitude of artful approaches to design techniques, and more.

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Comments

jmfem wrote
on 26 Oct 2013 12:33 PM

I pick an embroidery design that is proportionate to the space, and using only the outline of the design, put the embroidered picture on the space (i.e. on a baby quilt, a teddy bear, a puppy, etc.) using my embroidery machine.  May have to use sticky-back stabilizer if quilt sandwich is too thick or hard to fit in the hoop.  For only an outline stitch on a quilt, no need for a topper such as wash-away unless you are using velvet, etc.  No regular stabilizer needed if quilt sandwich fits in the hoop.

MGQuilts wrote
on 26 Oct 2013 1:29 PM

I bought Angela's book earlier this year and have been doing some of her more simple design suggestions. It is really fun and exciting to see something other than stitch-in-the-ditch or echo quilting.