Quilting Game Plan

I promised I would show you all how I managed to quilt the border of Amy's quilt and keep it all organized. Let me tell you, as I was working on the quilt, I honestly wasn't sure how to quilt the border. I didn't have a plan until I was almost done with the center of the quilt.
 With the border being pieced, I didn't want to treat it as a completely separate section. I felt it would seem like an afterthought if it was quilted differently and it wouldn't share the same flow as the rest of the quilt.

Before I go any further, if you'd like to read more about this quilt, see the original post here.

What I decided to do in the end was to continue the same star pattern that is in the background areas of the quilt. Not having contrasting fabrics to be my guide, I had to get creative... And that is why masking tape is my friend.
 I tried marking the design with chalk, but to be honest, it's so time consuming and it still wasn't the right solution for me. Then I had a light bulb moment and used strips of masking tape to mark of the areas where the stars would go.
 With the star segments marked off, I knew I shouldn't quilt in those squares and I was able to quilt the curved line design in the rest of the border without worry of quilting where I wasn't supposed to.

This picture is at the top of the quilt, first I quilted the center and tacked down the edges of the quilt. Then I started along the bottom edge of the border and worked my way up the sides and finished at the top. It normally doesn't work this way, but for this particular quilt, I was able to work on the center while still figuring out how to quilt the borders and by tacking down the edges, I wouldn't have to worry about the quilt shifting while being rolled.
 So with my stars marked in masking tape, I first quilted the curved lines on the left side of the star. Then I jumped to the other side (leaving the masking tape in place) and filled the space between the stars with the curved lines. Quilting on both sides while leaving the masking tape in place gives the borders I need to know where the star should be without guessing. Anytime you have to guess while quilting, you will inevitably quilt where you're not supposed to. Ask me how I know...
 So, once the curved lines are done on both sides, I removed the masking tape (I kept the strips hanging on the side of my desk so I can reuse them again and again) and quilted in the star. I wasn't able to quilt a full star, one of the points is cut off on the side of the quilt, but you can see the star in the picture above.
 Then I moved right along with this method quilting between the stars, removing the tape to the left and finishing the star. It made the process so smooth and fast.

Remember this if nothing else - quilting isn't about where you are now, it's where you're going next. Think of this masking tape like bumper bowling. You can bounce around as much as you want in between the lines, but you can't cross the bumpers.
 Here's a better shot of the star in the border. It really turned out nice and looked amazing on the back of the quilt. I still feel that this was the best idea for this particular border on this quilt since it was so similar to the center of the quilt.
So this is what the quilt looked like while I was working on it. I marked off the areas and was able to work much more efficiently and quickly. That is always my main goal at the end of the day.

And if you're wondering why I chose masking tape... This is a 1" wide tape. I have tried painters tape in the past, but I don't feel it sticks well enough to the fabric. Masking tape sticks so much better and you can reuse each strip about a dozen times if needed. And it doesn't leave any gooey residue.

I actually use masking tape when I quilt on my domestic machine to get straight lines. It's so easy to quilt cross-hatched diamonds and diagonal lines using tape. I don't like marking my quilts if I don't have to and any of the disappearing markers scare me. I've heard stories and I've seen marks that won't disappear when they're supposed to. Plus, I'm a quilting purist at heart and anything chemical added to quilts scares me of the long-term effects over time. I'd rather avoid marking if I can, but I have used markers in the past and I know I will again in the future. Sometimes it's the only way to see where you need to quilt.

I hope this post helps you think of alternate ways to tackle a quilting plan and maybe encourages you to put a roll of masking tape in your quilting toolbox.

I can honestly say that it took me longer to think of how I was going to quilt this border than actually quilting it. I was trying to figure out if chalking the design first would be best or what about this or that??? It was one of those moments where I actually put this quilt out of my mind for a moment and the idea for the masking tape hit me like a brick to the face. Duh... I'm so glad I thought about it and it worked out so wonderfully.

Please, if you have any questions about the quilting process or how I plan my quilts, ask! There aren't college courses offered in quilting. There isn't a manual on how to do this type of a job. It is a LOT of trial and error, some days with a lot of errors. But at the end of the day I have learned a lot and I would love to share what not to do. I've made the errors and I'd love to teach you how not to make the same mistakes I've made. I will try and post more "behind the quilting" posts like this.

Plus, I have some quilting fun ideas for the future. Let me keep working on the details and I will share more soon! I hope you all have a great day and get prepared for quilting overload this week. I've been quilting like a mad woman recently and now I can finally share more posts with you. Stay tuned!


  1. Thanks for sharing this Rebecca! I would love more of these in the future!

  2. I love knowing how other quilters come up with their quilting designs - the thought process we all go through is fascinating! Love the hint on using masking tape - I would love to mark less with chalk! I'll give tape a try the next time!!!

  3. Thanks for the instructions you post! I have never gone to any classes so most of my quilting is done by flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants. I do all of my quilting on my DSM and all are my own quilts. It is nice to see other quilting designs other than stippling or as I like to call it, doodling. Looking forward to more posts from you.


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