I had the pleasure of attending the AQS Quiltweek Show in Daytona Beach, FL a few weeks back. The weather was a little chilly this year but the sun was bright and a welcome change from our rainy weather at home. Daytona Beach is a fantastic place for a quilt show in February. The beach, sunshine, quilts and vendors, what could be better? As I enjoy the quilts, I love to check out the quilting. I noticed some amazing fill designs this year. I took a lot of pictures so I could share with you.
Fill designs serve a couple of distinct purposes on quilts. They add interesting texture and serve to emphasize the more major elements. That might be applique or embroidery, or pop a quilting motif forward while smashing down the background. There were plenty good examples of fill designs at the Daytona show.
In days gone by, everyone used a stipple to emphasize a motif or applique. And stipple still works today. Here is a masterful example by Caryl Bryer Fallert on her quilt Electric Ellipses.
The name of the game is contrast when it comes to fill designs. Notice Caryl used a contrasting color thread and the size of her stipple is smaller than the wiggly line design. The wiggly line pops thanks to the stipple and the thread color creates extra texture and interest. Almost suggesting piecing where there is none.
Here’s an an example of a different kind of stipple that is accomplished with hand quilting. Wow! Can you even imagine how much time went into this quilt?
Another example of contrasting thread paired with a stipple fill design in Marilyn Badger’s quilt Christmas in St. Andrews.
Stipple is that wiggly pattern that never crosses over itself. Sometimes the stipple is so tiny that you can’t help but cross over. I refer to that fill design as a sand stipple or a scribble. Here’s an example by Margaret Solomon Gunn, who quilts on a HQ Fusion.
With the advent of movable longarm quilting machines, more and more show quilts were being machine quilted. The judges got bored with stipple and asked contestants to step up their game with unique fill designs and the pebble (bubble, circles) became wildly popular. So much so, that I think we see more pebbles at a quilt show than stipple.
Remember contrast is important in a fill design so pebbles work well with straight lines. The pebbles on Jodi Robinson’s quilt Plain and Simple really set off the geometric design.
These pebbles are a nice contrast in shape and size from the straight lines.
Did I mention size? Size matters when you are going for contrast. Generally, the fill design should be 1/3 or less the size of what it is meant to enhance. Look at these teeny, tiny pebbles! (finger in photo for size reference).
I have photos of other fill designs that I’ll save for next week. In the meantime, practice those stipples and pebbles!
by Mary Beth Krapil