Quilting – some things to think about

Desley Maisano of Addicted to Quilts gave a most informative talk to our members on Monday and she has kindly allowed us to publish a summary here for those who could not make it on the night. She also provided some links to designers and tools that she referred to during her talk, just click on the name.

Desley’s reference sheet as supplied at the meeting  Waverley Reference sheet 2017

The photographs of quilts were taken at the meeting and do not do justice to Desley’s quilting, however they are useful in illustrating the particular points made.

The key message provided by Desley is to think about the quilting at the very beginning. She spoke from the perspective of long arm quilting done by a professional quilter, however many of the messages are relevant for those doing their own quilting.

Ruled by Chocolate All meanings that can be made of the quilt title are relevant. This quilt was pieced in a day and took three weeks to quilt. The quilting designs came first and they dictated the width and length of the strips. Then the hunt was on for the right fabric. The backing in red provides a different image of the quilting as the bobbin thread matches the top thread.

Feather Rose This quilt was made so that feathers in the corners and setting triangles could be featured. A border fabric with broadly scattered flowers was chosen so that the swags can be showcased. Ditch stitching needs to be on the cream to be seen, so when piecing press seams to the dark fabric. The second quilt is the same pattern but no feathers in the quilting. The quilting design is inspired by the Secret Garden colouring book.

All over or edge to edge quilting vs custom quilting. The quilting design does not show on busy fabrics so the quilt on the left is suitably edge to edge quilted. Plain fabric shows off quilting, so the quilt on the right with its large sections of cream and pink solids is suitable for custom quilting.

Custom quilting is the most expensive option. An allover pattern of dense feathers randomly placed can be a good substitute as shown in this group quilt.






Light or dark fabric. Custom quilting does not show up on dark fabric. Also think about your backing fabric colour.

This is the back of a quilt where the centre is quilted with a dark thread and the border, showing to the left, is quilted in a bright yellow thread. As illustrated in Ruled by Chocolate Desley matches the bobbin thread to the top thread. To avoid this showing she has used a busy dark grey and pale yellow print for the backing fabric. You can possibly see the feathers on the left of the photo where the black thread is used, but the overall look on the back is an even texture rather than a quilted pattern.


Thread choice. The modern quilt has vast areas of white which have been quilted in a strongly contrasting blue thread (too difficult to see in this photo). The brown top will be quilted with a cream thread to make the dull background more interesting.

Almost any batting can be used in long arm quilting, Desley prefers Matilda’s Own 60% wool 40% poly because it is medium loft, quilts and washes well. An exception is with the quilt on the left. The bright white background called for a white polyester wadding, the cream of the wool would have dulled it. It also has a high loft to really plump out the quilted shapes. In this example the quilting is an extension of the piecing.


 You should also think about who the quilt is for when choosing the type of quilting. Less quilting makes for a soft and cuddly quilt that drapes over the body. This is young Xavier’s bed quilt from the back. A pieced back is fun, but keep it asymmetrical as it is not easy to get a backing perfectly centred.

The McTavishing around the flowers in the quilt below left is very dense and makes the quilt stiff, suitable for a show piece that will hang on the wall. This stitch does not work well next to feathers so Desley has done some pebbles in between.

The dense quilting adds interesting texture, but needs to be spread evenly across the quilt. Straight lines can give the idea of more piecing. Close spaced double lines add contrast to curved elements like feathers.

This quilt was designed around the diamond quilting element that Desley had used in a customer’s quilt and liked very much. The quilting takes the place of piecing that may have been done in these alternate blocks.

Windmills of My Mind Piecing and quilting work together perfectly in this stunning quilt.

New Challenges: Metro Hoops Modern quilt designs call for modern quilting patterns rather than the feathers Desley loves. Lots of straight lines work in their place to create interest and complement the piecing.

Until recently all Desley’s quilts have been quilted on a hand guided long arm machine. This includes her commercial work the majority of which is all over or edge to edge designs. She has had one of her machines retrofitted with a computerised unit so that she can continue quilting and place less strain on her body. The quilt on the left is her second practice piece, it took far longer to set up and program rather than do it free hand, but that is what learning is all about. The pebbles are free hand quilted.

Waverley Patchworkers are very grateful to Desley for all the time and thought that went into her presentation. We hope this small summary will be useful for you as well.

See and read more about Desley’s quilting work at her blog addictedtoquilts.blogspot.com.au

About Waverley

Waverley Patchworkers Inc is a group of about 300 patchwork and quilting enthusiasts located in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. We meet regularly to share our passion for all things textile.
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