So, having decided to hand quilt your project, how do you find the right quilting design?
Your own quilt design: This is undoubtedly the first place to look for inspiration. If your quilt contains some heart piecing, then consider quilting hearts into the background filler. For a Christmas project, try using holly leaves or Christmas trees in your designs. If you are not happy with your own drawing, children's colouring books can often provide the template for your design.
Antique quilts: A wonderful source of inspiration. Visit museums, look on the internet, look in books based on antique quilts. Several designs stand out as being common to lots of these quilts:
* Clamshell: the quarter circle interlocking design can be used as background filler quilting
* Feathers: more often small, rounded feathers used in clusters
* Cross hatch: lines running both diagonal directions either as squares or as diamonds to
* Single, double or triple lines: these are often used around the outside of the pattern of the patchwork accentuate the pattern, or they could be in diminishing sizes inside the pattern
* Ropes and chevrons: used in the borders or sashing
* Fans: depending on the size, anywhere in the main body of the quilt design
Contemporary quilts: Much of the above still applies, but often with more complex designs. When I go to a quilt exhibition I am usually totally enthralled by the quilting on the exhibited quilts and find I get lots of ideas from these.
Nature: Leaves, flowers, spider webs, the bark of trees, the fossil markings on a stone: all of these can be used as inspiration for repetitive quilting designs, but in addition the overall picture of nature can throw up lots of ideas. Look at how the leaves on that branch form a pattern, or those water lilies spread across the pond. Perhaps it's the flowers all down a stem that catch your attention. All of these can be incorporated into your hand quilting design.
Observe the world around you: Here in the UK we are spoiled for choice with all the wonderful old buildings with their amazing stone work, statues, gargoyles and the like. If you can't take photos (often not allowed in churches) you can always draw the designs you like or even take a brass rubbing. Look at the stained glass windows, the wrought iron fencing and gates around you. Some brickwork in an unusual design? Draw it. These patterns can often be used as inspiration for both the piecing of a quilt and the quilting itself.