Kathy recently asked me to quilt this amazing top for her. The pattern is called “Gothic Arches“, by Tula Pink. Being a Tula Pink fan, Kathy also used fabrics from her “Elizabeth” line. The result is a quilt filled with bright colors and patterns. I must admit that this top intimidated me for a while. I had to hang it up on my design wall and let it talk to me for a bit before I dove in and loaded it to my Millennium.
This contemporary quilt really called for custom quilting. There are four different sizes of arches, and each size also has different proportions. The fabrics have interesting features, such as faces, flowers, stripes, and scalloped designs. There is so much to look at, and the quilting needed to enhance it, not dominate it.
After stabilizing the top by stitching in the ditch around the sections and the arches, I echoed the arches once. If you look at pictures of cathedral archways, they are echoed by multiple lines. In some sections, I added additional structure and motifs, keeping gargoyles and other features of Gothic architecture in mind. I also mimicked the arches by adding additional ones between the fabric arches in which I placed simple sprays with straight lines and circles. In other rows I placed stacked curls in those intermediate arches.
Quilting within the arches was a different matter. The fabrics ranged from highly patterned like the fabric portraying Queen Elizabeth to relatively simple. I outlined the shape of the arches with a 1/2 inch echo first. Then on some of the themed motifs like the one featuring the queen, I chose to simply outline her face so that the design of the fabric did all of the talking. For the chain mail fabric that looks like stacked clamshells, I also just followed the fabric’s design lines to enhance it.
In the arches whose fabric was less elaborately patterned, I used quilting designs such as fleur-de-lys, stacked ribbon candy, or continuous-line designs. I also quilted some arches with designs that I could imagine being carved from stone to ornament various sites within a cathedral. In this way, the quilting and the fabric relate to each other through common design motifs and it serves to pull the voice of this quilt top together giving it needed unity.
It’s important when you’re doing custom quilting to keep the density of quilting consistent throughout the quilt. I kept this in mind as I determined the size of the quilting designs. Some had to be stretched out from their original shape and size to distribute quilting evenly throughout the quilt. Most of this quilt was done freehand.
Custom quilting, while time-consuming, is a great opportunity to exercise your imagination and to be creative. Give it a try on your next quilt!