Simple But Effective

by Mary Beth Krapil


I have one of the BEST jobs. I travel, and I get to see lots of quilts from all over the world! I’ve seen so many different quilting styles, from simple to complex. I believe each quilt calls for its own style and complexity depending on the quilt top and the use for which it is destined. Bed quilt, couch quilt, toddler quilt, baby quilt, Tee-shirt quilt, wall hanging, art quilt, table topper, just to mention a few. Each one has requirements. Will the quilting (including thread choice) stand up to washing? Or maybe it won’t ever be washed? Will the quilting make the final product soft and drape-able and comfy? Or will the quilting make the quilt flat, square, and stable and at the same time give texture and dimension? There is a lot to consider when choosing quilting designs. Of course it needs to compliment the quilt top piecing or applique without overpowering.

Sometimes, the best choice is to keep it simple. I collected some photos of quilts from shows I recently attended, that illustrate my point.  Please allow me to share.

Inside the Triangles
by Jill Matyastik

detail of Inside the Triangles by Jill Matyastik

See those loops in the border? I thought it was perfect for that space and yet so simple to quilt. Great choice!


New York Beauty
by Janie Merritt


detail of New York Beauty
by Janie Merritt

Some of this quilt has some pretty intense quilting. But I was drawn by the loops on the inner ring and ribbon candy in the outer ring. (seen in the detail shot)


by Pam Gantz

You can (almost) never go wrong with straight lines. I love the angle changes in this piece with echo quilting.


Blooming Wildflowers
by Donna Thornton

This echo quilting is so interesting. It starts out curvy and stays curvy on the left, but on the right, it morphs into straight lines with edgy angle changes. That really moves the eye.


Day in the Sunshine
by Joyce Erwin

More straight lines but this time radiating from the center feathered wreath. Simple piecing and simple quilting; but really effective and beautiful!


One Lucky Leaf
by Donna Motley

Another example of echo quilting is just the ticket for this curvaceous leaf. This looks very simple, but it is very well executed, which is no easy task! Getting the echoes evenly spaced and a perfect echo of the previous line of stitching takes great skill.


1930’s Scrappy Friendship Star
by Lisa Rawlings

The simple hand-quilted Baptist Fan motif on this hand-pieced feed sack quilt lends a new dimension of motion to a simple friendship star block.


Hourglass Figure
by Nadine Villani

detail of Hourglass Figure
by Nadine Villani

Masterful straight line quilting with varying spacing gives great texture to this quilt. Once again, not an easy task to get it done right!


My Neck of the Woods
by Maggie Schwamb

detail of My Neck of the Woods
by Maggie Schwamb

I love the way the simple curves quilted in the blue fabric gives a real feel of water.


Visions of Beach Time
by Diane Kelley

detail of Visions of Beach Time
by Diane Kelley

This simple swirly edge-to-edge quilting adds texture to the quilt without obscuring the wonderful design created by the color choices and piecing.


The Rug
by Brenda Cookson

detail of The Rug
by Brenda Cookson

The simple Orange Peel (or Continuous Curve) quilting is really quite nice on this quilt. I was struck by the title. Surely she means she took her inspiration from a rug, and not that she intends to use this beauty as a rug!

So when you are mulling over quilting design choices for your next quilt, don’t forget about the simple. It can be quite effective!

Do you have a quilt with simple but effective quilting? We’d all love to see pictures! Feel free to add them to the comments.