Thanks Sue for taking the time to post these quilting ideas - I just basted a table runner this am and some of these ideas will be perfect for it. I have loved working on this quilt and my coffee group has enjoyed seeing my progress each month.
I continue to get many questions about how to quilt Stars for a New Day - and I am pleased to answer them. I have to say, however, that I am a firm believer in letting everyone decide on their own designs. What works for me may not work for another person - in terms of design, ability, personal preferences, etc. For example, one person on the Forum stated that she was sick of seeing feathers on quilts. Personally... I love feathers! So you see, there are all kinds of ideas out there.
The reason I don't like to specify quilting designs (don't stop reading -- I'll describe how I quilted mine in a minute!) is for the above reasons... and stop and think about it for a minute: what if I told all of you which fabrics you should use? Just by taking a look at the wonderful creativity seen on the Show-and-Tell page, you can see that limiting something as simple as color would be a huge mistake! Maybe not a mistake... but it would have closed off the creativity of a number of you -- or even turned you away from starting this quilt.
Having said all of THAT, I also recognize that, having quilted over 300 quilts, many of them by hand, and owning probably 75-100 quilting stencils, I am at an advantage: I start thinking about how I am going to quilt a quilt before I even start making it! First, I want to offer some general guidelines for quilting - and then I will tell you how I quilted my own Stars quilt.
-- first of all (and many machine quilters will disagree with me because they are "production" quilters who want something done more easily and quickly), I almost ALWAYS stitch in the ditch around every pieced or appliqued unit in a quilt. Stitching in the ditch means stitching right next to or on top of a seam line. The EXCEPTION to this is usually when the pieced units have a lot of intersections piled together (such as the center of a LeMoyne Star or Mariner's compass) or when lots of small units are sewn together (such as lots of 1" or smaller pieces sewn in a strip or in a multi-pieced block); sometimes the buildup of seam allowances prevents my machine from running through that mess, so I avoid it -- or I have sometimes gone back later and hand quilted in the ditch. I like in-the-ditch as my first pass across a quilt because it maintains the outline of the piecing or the applique, instead of letting pieces melt into each other.
-- if your quilt is very geometric, you can soften those geometric lines by quilting feathers, cables, and the like: think of where you can insert soft, flowing designs - including overall designs like the baptist fan/dinner plate design across pieced blocks.
-- if your quilt has lots of applique or soft edges on it, you may want to insert geometric lines: think of where you might quilt cross-hatching, slats or bead-board lines in borders, or repetitive echo quilting.
-- do not let the piecing always dictate the quilting design -- you can easily quilt designs across pieced lines.
-- I like planning "open" areas for quilting -- wide empty borders for Amish feathered vines, wide open blocks for feathered wreaths or a "ghost" of an appliqued block, wide sashings for geometric designs or cables or vines of some sort. Not every area of a quilt needs to be pieced or appliqued -- give yourself or your longarm quilter a place to "play". Open spaces let your eye rest, frame areas, and often give emphasis to the pieced or appliqued area.
-- If I go to a quilt show that has a stencil vendor, I nearly always make it a point to pick up 2-3 stencils that appeal to me, in various sizes. It's hard to go to your local quilt store and find the "exact" stencil you decide to use, because quilt stores don't usually keep a large variety of stencils. Having collected stencils over many years, I can now almost always find the "perfect" stencil for whatever I want to quilt... or I "devise" a new stencil using combinations of the designs I've collected.
-- if you have a very busy fabric and your quilting will not show up well... don't waste time quilting elaborate designs in it! Do simple things. If you have a fabric with a pretty design in it (e.g., flowers), stitch around the designs in the fabric to emphasize them - and you can echo the outer edge of all of those lines, to fill the "empty" area in the fabric design. Bottom line here: sometimes the fabric can tell you how it needs to be quilted!
Okay - enough about general rules. Here is how I quilted Stars, along with some suggested alternatives:
-- the feathered star in the center: quilted in the ditch around all of the pieces; did just a free-form fill of feathers in the open areas around the feathered star. Other options: quilt geometric designs in the open areas around the star -- V's in the setting triangles and "L's" in the setting squares; or just stipple with a large stipple
-- the setting triangles around the center block: I made a "swooping" feathered vine across the triangle. Other options: Make large chevrons in the triangles (i.e., echo the shorter sides of the triangle, in various uneven increments -- 1/2" then 1" then 1-1/4", etc.)
-- The floaters: I stitched in the ditch beside them; in the wider floaters, I like to quilt a simple undulating line. Other options: a really wavy "double ribbon" line or the equivalent of wavy Christmas ribbon candy or sew cursive L's and e's.
-- Squares-on-point border: I stitched in the ditch around every square and triangle -- and then on the triangles, I echoed "chevrons" to accentuate the geometric lines of the border. Other options: stitch in the ditch around the squares; stipple in the open area
-- Pinwheels: I stitched in the ditch around all of the half-square triangles.
-- Block border: First of all, in the setting triangles, I quilted chevrons -- which is just an echoing of the shorter sides of the triangle or V's placed at 1", 1-1/4", 1-3/4" and 2" increments -- you can choose your own increments, of course, depending on your fabric! Other options: stipple area, stitch around the design in the fabric, cross-hatch, slats (straigh lines, perpendicular to the outer edge of the quilt), fancy quilting designs from stencils - or whatever! As for the blocks themselves, this is one instance where I did NOT stitch in the ditch around all of the pieces -- instead, I wanted to soften the geometry of the blocks, so I quilted a simple feathered wreath on top of each block; repeating motifs (feathers used elsewhere in this case) helps bring a quilt together into a cohesive whole. Other options for the blocks: You could make two concentric circles atop each block, echo the piecing, stipple in various parts of the block but not all of it.
-- the flying geese: I stitched in the ditch around all of the units.
-- The staggered star border: Because quilting across lots of multiple piecing intersections is sometimes hard to do, I chose to avoid those intersections by quilting -- across the entire area of the border -- a very wide free-form meandering feathered vine. Other options: stipple in the open areas around the stars and quilt an "X" across the center of the star or quilt slats on all of the vertical lines in the block (edge to edge across the border width) or do a large overall stipple across the width of the whole border.
You may be asking how I do "free form" feathers. Take a look at how Alex quilted feathers in her quilting classroom in TQS -- I use the same sort of technique, but I start with a wavy line, then begin adding feathers, one at a time, on one side of that line and then on the other side, always moving from the root of the feather forward.
Well, I hope that this helps everyone gather some ideas on quilting your quilt. For me, quilting is one of the most relaxing parts of quilt making -- I've always called it "my therapy" because I can turn the tv on, sit down, and become blind to the world! I usually listen but don't watch tv... which sometimes gives me funny views of the world. For example, I thought for months that one of the cell phone companies was weird because they kept advertising bars in cities (you know - "more bars in more places") -- until I looked up one day and saw they were talking about those reception bars on the phone!
One more funny story for the holidays.... each of my grand children come over every week (different days) and spends the day with me. One day, little Daisy came over, and I had received two large rolls of batting -- you've seen them, I'm sure -- 48" long and about 2' around, right? I did not have time to put them where they belonged, so I quickly just stuffed them in a convenient place - the bath tub in the bathroom off of my sewing room. That afternoon, when Daisy suddenly said in alarm, "Gramma - I have to go potty!", I said "hurry - go in the bathroom right there" as I pointed to the door. She went running in... and stopped dead in her tracks, as her mouth dropped open. She turned around, and with eyes as big as dinner plates, said, "Gramma -- you have BIG toilet paper!!!!"