I recently finished a quilt for my niece using my In The Right Direction Quilt pattern.
She likes blues and purples, so I focused on a range of those colors for the arrows.
Fabrics Used: (starting with the upper right arrow and working clockwise)
- Speckled – Witchy (Rashida Coleman-Hale)
- Greatest Hits Vol. 1 Sunstars – Violet (Libs Elliot)
- Kona Cotton Solid – Velvet
- Kona Cotton Solid – Regal
- Speckled – Navy (Rashida Coleman-Hale)
- Kona Cotton Solid – Riviera
- Speckled – Blue Ribbon (Rashida Coleman-Hale)
- Phosphor – Orbit (Libs Elliot)
- Kona Cotton Solid – Paris Blue
- Background Fabric – Speckled – White Gold (Rashida Coleman-Hale)
- Binding Fabric – Speckled Blue Ribbon (Rashida Coleman-Hale)
- Backing Fabric – Rainbow Butterflies (Andover Fabrics)
My General Quilting Process
Additionally, I decided to custom quilt each arrow. I prefer straight line walking foot quilting on my Janome 9400. Every quilt is different, but these are the general steps I take to quilt, especially when I’m going to custom quilt various sections. Domestic machine quilting is something I used to find very challenging, but now I love the process!
Select Matching Thread
If I am doing just one quilting theme on a quilt, I select one thread that I think will blend the best into the majority of the fabric. When I want to quilt various sections differently, I prefer choosing thread that will blend into that section. I work to find the best match that I have. Often there may be thread color choices that match even more closely, but I like to use what I have if I can.
My preferred piecing and quilting thread is Aurifil 50 wt. Here are the threads I used for quilting on this project.
- 2588 (Light Magenta)
- 2540 (Medium Lavender)
- 2545 (Medium Purple)
- 2581 (Dark Dusty Grape)
- 2815 (Teal)
- 2725 (Light Wedgewood)
- 2740 (Dark Cobalt)
- 2785 (Very Dark Navy)
- The background and bobbin thread were 2021 (Natural White)
Decide Quilting Design
I prefer to keep my quilting designs very simple. I love straight line quilting and creating geometric shapes is my favorite. I do enjoy the organic nature of free motion quilting as well, but I am most comfortable quilting with my walking foot.
I mostly sit and study each section of the quilt to decide what design I want to do. I love crosshatch and diamond quilting so I’m likely to integrate that into the overall design. As I decide what I’d like in each section, I also consider how it will play with the rest of the quilting.
A great resource to use for walking foot quilting are the Walk books from Jacquie Gering. Jacquie very clearly and succinctly describes walking foot quilting best practices and provides tons of inspiration ideas – with clear instructions on how to achieve them. I get tons of ideas and inspiration from these books! Jacquie’s books are available in her online store.
Mark Quilting Lines
To help keep me on track per section, I prefer to pre-mark my quilting lines. I use a hera marker and a ruler to mark the lines. The hera marker makes a crease in the fabric. Here’s a link to a blog post where I walk through what the tool is and how it works.
Sometimes after I start marking, I change my mind on the design. I just simply start marking new lines where needed. It can be challenging to keep track of which lines are the ones I’ll actually quilt. If I think I won’t be able to follow along, I put a pin in a couple of the lines to keep me on track. After a wash, the lines relax so they aren’t there long term.
Once the lines are marked and bobbins are wound, I begin quilting. I try to choose whichever section is closest to the center so that I can work out from there. One of the most common questions people ask me is how long it takes me to bury the threads. The answer is no time because I don’t often bury threads even when custom quilting. For me, it’s about asking myself – “what is this quilt going to be used for?” If the answer is I want to submit it to a show, I will bury the threads. Judges are going to want the back to feel as smooth as the front. For a quilt that is going to a person to use, I’m don’t see the need to spend the time burying.
Instead, I set my stitch length to something very small, like .2 or .3mm. I take several stitches. Then I increase the stitch length back to my normal quilting length. By taking those few short tight stitches, it creates a little knot on the back.
I do go back and trim these, being extremely careful not to clip the knot. For this quilt, once clipped, you couldn’t see these. If you run your hand over them, you may feel a tiny bump – something a judge may care about, but not the average user snuggling under it.
There’s also a thread on top to clip as well. I have made many quilts like this and have not had any issues. I definitely recommend testing out any new-to-you methods first on a small sample piece to confirm the technique does what you intend and holds up as you expect.
Eventually, at some point, I’m likely to run into a corner that I can’t get out of. I will decrease my stitch length again, take a few stitches, clip and find a new starting point. I don’t stop at every single “end of line” though – I will travel between lines by stitching as close to the ditch as possible. I don’t stitch in the ditch (that’s just my preference), but near it. If I’m using matching thread - while it’s certainly viewable - it’s not noticeable in the overall design. In the image below, look closely at where the white and blue fabrics meet - there is blue stitching near the edge so I could travel to the next line. There is also white stitching near the edge so I could continue quilting. Remember that preferences while quilting are as wide and vast as preference in fabric or food or fashion. These are the steps that I generally take, but even I alter my process depending on the project.
All of the purple arrows were individually quilted in a unique pattern. Similar designs were used between the purple and blue, but no two blue arrows are the same either. The size (or space between lines) varied between 1/2" to 1" apart. Since the arrows are relatively small, I decided on more dense quilting. Starting with the upper right arrow and moving clockwise, the general designs I used include:
- Straight horizontal (to the arrow) lines
- Burst from the tip of the arrow
- 60 degree diamond
- Straight vertical (to the arrow) lines
- Burst from the top of the arrow
- 60 degree diamond
- Straight horizontal (to the arrow) lines
Once I finished the arrows, I marked the background where I did a crosshatch design. I did that a bit less dense than the arrows because it’s a much larger space to fill, spacing each line about 2" apart.
After the quilting was finished, I trimmed and hand bound my quilt. Now it’s off to its new home!
If you'd like to make your own In The Right Direction Quilt, you can find the pattern at Quilt Pattern Mart. I'd love to see how you bring the arrows to life with your quilting!