What does that even mean?

Meander, edge to edge pantograph, custom quilting – do these terms confuse you? Don’t worry, you are not alone. There is a lot to learn in the quiltmaking process, and these are all rather specialized terms that have confused many new quilters. Let’s take a closer look.samples


Meander Quilting


Large Allover Meander

Most quilters know the term “stippling” and many have even tried to stipple on their domestic machines. Stippling is the all over continuous free motion pattern that looks a little like a jigsaw puzzle. It is a good way to practice your free motion skills but it tends to get boring after a while. Nevertheless it is a timeless pattern that looks good when you want the quilting to stay in the background. So what is the difference between stippling and meander? It’s just size that matters here. Stippling is small meandering, and there is no consensus on how small it needs to be to be called stippling. Many people think the lines can’t be more than 1/4″ apart but I have also heard that 1/2″ apart still qualifies as stippling. And there is an even smaller version called micro stippling with the lines no more than 1/8″ apart. But then again, who really cares about these definitions… let’s just call it meandering, and we will be fine.

Meandering is done without any kind of pattern, and the only rule is that you can’t cross any lines. So it takes a little preparation to think about which way you want to go without maneuvering yourself into a corner. And of course you want your quilting to be smooth, no corners or jagged lines. The scale of your meandering can be as large or small as you want it to be. Larger meandering looks good as an allover design, smaller stippling is often used as a background filler design.

Meander quilting also qualifies as an edge to edge design, it is included an the lowest pricing category of edge to edge pantographs. I personally feel that meander quilting is not the best choice for most quilts when there are so many designs available. There are exceptions, of course, but in the majority of cases, an allover abstract design will look better.


Edge to Edge Pantographs


Maple Sugar Pantograph

Pantographs are continuous line quilting designs that are stitched across the quilt top without regard to the design. It doesn’t matter if you use piecing, appliqué or embroidery in your quilt – a pantograph design doesn’t stop anywhere. It will cover the whole quilt from side to side, top to bottom. There are lots of designs available, some of them quite specific, some of them very general. There are swirls and flames and feathers, there are modern geometric designs, you can choose puppy paws or teddy bears or finish off your Christmas quilt with some holly leaves. Hearts for Valentine’s Day, candy corn for Halloween, pretty decorated eggs for Easter – if you can imagine it, then somebody has probably come up with a design for it.

Pantographs are usually meant to complement the quilt but stay in the background. They mostly go well with pieced quilts but can be difficult to use with appliquéd or embroidered blocks. It all depends on the result you want to achieve, and I will be happy to help you choose what is right for your quilt. I have overlays available of all the pantograph designs I have, and we can audition the ones you like and see which one would look best on your quilt. It is always good to have several designs in mind to choose from as they don’t always look the way you think they will look. To see an example of how I audition pantographs, click here.


Custom Quilting


Custom Quilting

This is probably the most difficult style to explain as it covers a wide variety of options. Anything that is not an allover design is custom quilting. This can be rather simple – like choosing an edge to edge pantograph design for the body of the quilt but a different design for the border – or very elaborate – like having every area of the quilt quilted heavily and in a different way. Custom quilting pays attention to the design elements of the quilt top. In my sample I used different designs for my blocks, sashing, cornerstones and the border. This is all free motion quilting without following a pattern, and the designs are not completely identical. This adds interest to the finished quilt and gives it a less generic look. Custom quilting is more time consuming than allover designs and therefore more expensive.


More questions?

Contact me, and I will be happy to answer them.





Header Photo: "Third Weekend in October" Pieced and Quilted by Beatrice Rieske, Design by Ruth Powers of "Innovations"
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