Choosing a Quilting Design

After you decide whether to hand- or machine-stitch, you still have decisions to make about the design you'll stitch in the quilt top.

  • Background fillers (see below) are simple designs in the open spaces. Most background fillers are patterns of straight lines, such as single or closely spaced double lines stitched vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. Crossed stitching lines make square or diamond grids.
  • Freestyle designs are meandering, all-over patterns. Machine quilters refer to the technique as stippling.
  • Echo quilting is multiple lines of stitching that follow the outline of an applique or other design element, echoing its shape.
  • Quilting in the ditch is stitching close to the seam line on the side that does not have seam allowances. These stitches are more subtle than outline quilting because they tend to disappear into seam lines.
  • Outline quilting stitches are made 1/4" from the seam lines, just past the extra thickness of the pressed seam.


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