How to Create Depth with your Quilting

How to Create Depth with your Quilting

I know you've been there. You finish a quilt top and are delighted with how it turned out. The next question, of course, is.... well, how should I quilt this?

A lot of quilters bypass this question by sending it over to a long-armer, and there is nothing wrong with that! If you don't enjoy the quilting step and can support your local long-armer's business, I see that as a win-win!

However, if you are quilting it for yourself, it can feel overwhelming to choose how to quilt it to best set off your design. 

I wanted to share with you a little quilting tool to consider adding to your tool belt!

Dense quilting makes that part of the quilt look further away or recessed, while looser quilting does the opposite. 

When you pair dense quilting with looser quilting, you can create some nice depth!

When I finished this appliqué quilt I made as a sample for the Broderie Perse Workshop I taught in Meander, it took me a bit to decide how to quilt it to really set off those gorgeous flowers (the flowers are fussy cut and arranged in this lovely bouquet/frame -- it is a fun and simple technique that looks more complex than it is!).

The flowers were only fused on when I did the quilting; I hadn't sewn them down yet, so I let the quilting do that for me! I quilted around the raw edges of the flowers, and only very loosely inside the larger sections of flowers, like the corner flowers and the inner bouquet. 

Then I decided to create depth by quilting pebbles very densely in the center. Pebbling is one of my favorite free-motion quilting motifs because it is simple (it doesn't take too long to get the hang of them), give an organic look, and can help create this depth. 

Since the appliqué and pebbles have a very organic look, I decided to juxtapose that with straight lines around the outer border. This, I think, gives the quilt structure and sets off the design. It also literally points to the design, so it helps guide the eye to the best bits!

If you're interested in taking this workshop, it (and MANY more) can be found inside Meander, click here to learn more!

I'd love to hear from you! Do you do your own quilting? Do you have a favorite motif(s) that you come back to over and over? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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I like your technique. I have a lot of satin fabric that this would work great on. I also have a lot of fabric that I can cut flowers out and arrange them in such a way as you did. Thanks for sharing.

Sharleen Phillips

I have tried unsuccessfully to master free-motion quilting! So I finally just let it go and opted for quilting lines with my walking foot. I curve the lines when I need more “movement” in the design. I occasionally send a quilt out when it really calls for meandering or stippling or something I can’t do with my walking foot, but I am usually happy with the results I get with my walking foot on my domestic machine…and certainly less frustrated! LOL!


I have used mostly straight line, or stitch in the ditch motifs. For so long, I’ve felt that I had to have my quilts quilted by someone else to be pleased with the end product. I am determined to push past my self doubt to improve my domestic machine skills.

Emily Wakefield

Thanks for the great tip. Beautiful quilt. Have only tried straight line machine quilting. Still learning.

Candis Benguerel Smith

Lovely work of art.

Penny Schneider

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