April 18, 2017

Free-motion quilting Hot Tip: Density is Everything


I came back from QuiltCon realizing there is a lot of things I talk about in my quilting classes that I've never blogged here. Outrageous! Let's fix that. Starting now.

This is one of my favorite things to show in my quilting class:


I wish I could hear your appreciative murmurs and "oh"s right now like I hear in class. These two blocks above were pieced exactly the same. See that? Pink in the middle, orange on the edges. But then I quilted them differently and they don't look the same anymore do they? The one on the left feels like it has more pink than the one on the right. And the one on the right has more orange now that it's quilted. Isn't that strange? This is how I teach the lesson: what you don't quilt is as important as what you do: anything you don't quilt lifts up and comes forward on the quilt and catches the eye. 

Here's another thing I like to show; two swatches quilted very similarly. But do you have a favorite? 




I sure do! The one on the left is so powerful, that center ribbon comes forward because the horizontal lines are quilted more densely. They smash down and become the background, allowing the wavy line to poof up and catch the light. In the swatch on the right the spacing between the straight horizontal lines and the vertical wavy lines is so similar, there is no foreground or background created so the piece ends up looking flat. What I want you to notice is I didn't do anything hard here: wavy lines and straight(ish) lines. I just made a choice with how to use those lines to play with the light and shadow effect of quilting. You can do this too!


Here's a sample from my Craftsy class Wild Quilting where I talk about this concept a fair amount. Just quilting densely around any motif pops it forward and creates a "wow" effect. When there's a big difference in density like above (look at the largest open space in the spiral design as opposed to the largest open space in the flowers and leaves) then you get a lot of drama. But it doesn't have to be dramatic. In the swatch below there's less difference in density. The open space in the feather and the wavy lines are not as far off. There is still a foreground/background created, but this one has a subtler effect. 


I hope this gets your quilting wheels turning! More hot tips coming soon (ish). 


15 comments:

Quiltdivajulie said...

Great illustrations - thanks! Love your Craftsy classes.

Gene Black said...

I agree that the orange piece on the left has a WOW factor that the other one doesn't have as the density is so similar.
I love your generous sharing nature.
Quilt on, Christina-san.
(PS, adding "san" denotes respect and admiration in Japanese culture.)

Jan @Cocoa Quilts said...

Love the illustration, it shows so well your point.

Lorinda Davis said...

Great photos and tutorial- thanks!

QuiltShopGal said...

Density is very interesting. Great post.

QuiltShopGal
www.quiltshopgal.com

Elsie Montgomery said...

Good stuff! Thanks for posting this. I'm in one of your classes, likely the slowest student ever... but you are a terrific teacher.

Lisa J. said...

Thanks for the tips...I'll soak them all in.

Sarah Craig said...

Loved seeing these samples at QuiltCon - thanks for the reminder of your techniques!!

Ullalein2002 said...

Super post and perfectly explained! I like to exercise it myself. Like you blog and craftsy class for years
Best regards from Germany

KaHolly said...

A very timely and informative post. Thanks.

Jen Strauser said...

Wow. Thanks for illustrating this idea. Your samples are great.

Vicki in MN said...

Keep the tips coming Sarah! Even though I saw this in your wild class, it is a good reminder!

Julie Alexander Johnson said...

I just discovered this myself in a class to create quilting motif samples. I was calling it "micro-quilting", but it's density. Thank u! Very clear.

Rochelle aka Bella Quilts said...

I love the illustration of the differences. How does one do dense quilting and still keep the quilt soft enough to cuddle up in?

Chris said...

I always earn so much from you! Thanks for blogging.

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