Quilt As Desired

Have you ever noticed that most quilt patterns end with “quilt as desired” just before you are instructed to bind the quilt? Why do designers say that rather than tell you how to quilt it? For some of us, figuring out how to quilt it is our biggest fear.

Well, designers generally tell you to quilt as desired, because they don’t know what type of quilting you like or want to do. Do you quilt with your wallet (pay someone else to do it) because you love piecing or applique, but don’t necessarily want to quilt? If so, you are awesome because you help keep professional longarm quilters employed. Are you a hand quilter? If so, you have immense patience and are to be admired. Are you someone who likes edge to edge quilting? If so, you are efficient and practical. Something many of us need to improve upon. Are you someone who likes to do customized quilting on your domestic machine or longarm? If so, you are creative and ambitious.

Maybe the type of quilting you choose depends upon the use or timing of the quilt? You may pay a professional to quilt the top that is intended for competition because it must be just right. Or you may pay to get one quilted if you don’t have time yourself to do it. You may hand quilt an heirloom top that you are gifting for a very special occasion, like a wedding. You may tie a quilt for a picnic. You may do edge to edge quilting on a child’s quilt that will get washed dozens of times. You do simple stitch in the ditch quilting for a donation quilt. You may do custom quilting for wall hanging or special gift to yourself or someone close to you. Your reasons are your reasons and they are perfect valid whatever they are.

Are your beginning to understand why designers write “quilt as desired.” Don’t worry, you are not totally set adrift. There are lots of quilt professionals out there who have YouTube channels like Angela Waters or publish books like Christa Watson to give you ideas on what your quilting options are. I frequently look at what other quilters have done with a space to give me ideas on how to finish my quilts.

You may be asking, what type of quilting do you do? What do I chose when I see “quilt as desired.” If you ask my husband, he may tell you that my quilt tops are added to a growing pile of UFOs. He would be right, I have quite a stack, but they eventually all get finished. My methods of quilting vary as I am always willing to try something new. This also means that my skill levels have grown over the years.

My first adult quilt was ridiculously ambitious. I decided to make a quilt for my sister’s wedding. It was machine pieced, before I learned any tricks on how to piece more efficiently, and hand quilted. Oh, did I mention it was KING SIZE? I did say it was overly ambitious. It took me a year to quilt it in a hoop. Why did I do this? Besides the fact that I really love my sister? I was so na├»ve that I didn’t know there was another way.

Then, I moved onto other techniques. I tried quilt as you go. Talk about quick and easy, especially for runners. I experimented with a few of them. They were great for gifts.

My next move was to machine quilting and stitching in the ditch. I made a host of baby quilts this way. It was that era of my life when all of my friends were having babies. Have you ever noticed that cycle of weddings, babies, graduations, etc. I only have one quilt from that time, one I made for my oldest son. I wanted it poofy, and had no clue what I was doing, so used a double layer of high loft poly batting. It worked and is still puffy over 20 years later.

Then, I decided to get fancy. I make a Triple Irish Chain quilt, queen size and quilted it on my domestic machine. Again, I was trying something new, so wanted to do a little custom quilting. I put flowers in the center each negative space. These were large multi-petalled flowers that required me to turn the quilt again, and again, and again. I didn’t have free motion capability on that machine. My shoulders were not thanking me. It took a few month, but I finished it and entered it into my first contest. It didn’t win anything, but it was a step. almost twenty year later, that quilt still adorns one of our beds. Our guests and the cat really love it.

I made several quilts that way. Then, my amazing husband gave me a wonderful gift – a longarm quilt machine. I love my longarm. My shoulders really love my longarm. A whole new world of quilting opened up to me. I took some classes and experimented a lot. Then, again, most of my quilts are experiments, some successful and then there are the other. I learned to do edge-to-edge quilting which was great for my bargello experiment.

What I found is that I really enjoy custom quilting, which takes more time. Rulers are my friends and I am become more confident with free-motion each time I do it. The time put in definitely equates to the satisfaction when I am done. For example, just before Thanksgiving, my mother sent me a quilt kit (Robert Kauffman Holiday Dash) that had been sitting in her closet for several years. I assembled it, custom quilted it and gifted it to her for Christmas the same year.

Be a little adventurous and stretch a little outside your comfort zone on just one quilt out of ten to gain confidence. That way you won’t dread see the words “quilt as desired.”

Happy Quilting!

Laureen

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