Choosing Quilting Designs

"I don't know what to do, and I don't want to wreck it"
is a common refrain in the quilting world. Especially when a quilt top is perfect just the way it is...Who wants to mar perfection?

Personally, I enjoy the challenge of figuring out what to do! The quilt (almost) always offers a clue that points me in the right direction.

So...when this piece arrived, I was excited. The clue was obvious...let the research begin!


After looking at pictures of Haida art online, I was still at a loss. Haida art is typically very clean and graphic with no background texture. Uh oh. Texture was what I needed.

I kept digging, looking at all things Haida - totem poles, carvings, jewelry, textiles, murals, drawing tutorials, and I even read stories in search of symbolism that might spark an idea.

Observation and making connections = inspiration for something new

After steeping myself in images, my brain made some interesting leaps:
  • Murals are sometimes painted on rough wooden buildings, plus Totem poles are wooden - and wood has knots (aha! said my brain...I can quilt knots!)
  • Haida carvings show tool marks - mainly in a vertical direction (aha! said my I know what to do in the negative spaces of the figure)
  • A "scratchy" organic crosshatch often fills space in Haida jewelry (aha! I know how to handle the border!)


Inspired by Haida art, this quilting definitely supports the character of the piece while at the same time offering a new interpretation of the facts. I absolutely love how this turned out!

In the borders, I used a new-to-me, zig-zagging crosshatch method I found on Pinterest. I'm including this direct link to the tutorial so you won't have to click through "the matrix" if you want to check it out.

Organic Crosshatch = minimal marking

I chalked the initial path of zigs and zags so I'd have a path to follow, and the rest was done by eye. I wanted to mimic the organic, diagonal crosshatching I'd noticed on the Haida jewelry, and measuring would have defeated the purpose.

Organic crosshatch, complete!

OH, and I also turned the quilt to do the side borders - otherwise I'd have had to roll the quilt back and forth incessantly! Turning the quilt probably saved my sanity.

So, that's how I choose quilting designs. (Minus the part where I agonize over every detail. That does happen, but I recognize it as part of the process and don't let it bother me too much anymore.)
How do you decide what to quilt?

Linking up With:
Whoop Whoop Fridays, at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Free Motion Mavericks, at Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing
Show off Saturday, at Sew Can She
Fabric Frenzy Friday, at Fort Worth Fabric Studio

Try, Learn, & Grow!
P.S. Find me on Instagram under my blog name, FreshofftheFrame


  1. Wow, you chose so well, I hope your client appreciates your research as it should be appreciated. I especially love the centre, your quilting has given it a bit of a 3D effect now, it properly does look like a carving.

  2. Stunning quilting. I think anything other than what you've done could have ruined the piece. I'm like you I try and listen to what the quilt wants me to do. I find things go a lot easier when I do. My trouble is that I seem to stick to the same few patterns. I need to branch out and try some new ones.

  3. It looks terrific. Kudos for the research. That can take up so much time!

  4. Wow, outstanding! Thank you for sharing your thought and research process.

  5. This client very much appreciates the research! I love Haida art and am over the moon with what Carole has done to my piece. Can't wait to get it bound and hung.

  6. You are a master at what you do!

  7. Wonderful execution! And I load and reload my quilts to keep my sanity in tact as well. How awesome to see your client's reaction to it above, too!! <3

  8. Simply put.....absolute perfection!

  9. Your quilting is absolutely beautiful! Ladyquiltsalot has an amazing piece of art to display forever! Always inspired by and impressed with your work! Thanks for sharing!

  10. It looks wonderful. You and Margaret both did a great job getting this quilt done!

  11. Awesome work. Thanks for sharing the thought process behind your choices. At first I thought it was a small wall hanging, then I saw it on the frame, so I guess it is big enough to fit on that.

  12. I really like how you tackled this whole thing - the wood grain effect is really brilliant!

  13. Oh Carole, the quilting you did could not have been more perfect for the piece. Your research paid off big time! The whole quilt is harmonious and looks exactly right.

  14. Hello Carole,

    This quilt is absolutely gorgeous! The top is really interesting, the way the central motif is in keeping with the fabric around the border. You have done a wonderful job with the quilting, adding a third dimension and staying true to the theme of Haida art.

    Thank you for linking up with Free Motion Mavericks - this quilt is this week's featured project!

    Love, Muv

  15. Seriously....I wish I wrote this post down, as I would have highlighted it this week at Tuesday Archives (sorry) Thanks so much for rejuvinating it under our cross hatch quilting theme Carole!!

  16. Wow I love the quilting you chose on this quilt it's perfect!!! I used to live in WA state and saw Haida designs all over the place. Now I live in NM and of course the native designs are different here, but I love both the Pacific NW and the SW designs. Visiting from Val's Link Party.


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