3 essential TIPS for choosing a quilting design

I’m continuing to play with the Husqvarna Viking BRILLIANCE 75Q while I quilt my way through a stack of small projects.

Although I did quite a bit of prep work yesterday, I’m not quite ready to start quilting. When we think of quilting something, we mostly think of sitting down at the sewing machine. However, if we don’t have everything ready, it can be a frustrating session. If everything is prepped, the machine quilting is easy!

Yesterday, I assembled the tools and supplies needed to quilt my projects. I showed you some of the amazing functions and features of the BRILLIANCE 75Q which will make quilting so much easier.

Before I start to quilt, I’ve got to decide how I’ll quilt the piece. Let’s get started.

Husqvarna Viking BRILLIANCE 75Q with optional extension table

The first project I picked is a small hexagonal table topper. This was made several years ago as part of a table topper class. It’s time to get it finished.

I didn’t find a piece of batting that was close to the size needed for this piece. I did find a long, narrow piece of batting that would work perfectly after I joined it in the middle.

In the photo below, I’ve laid the table topper onto the strip of batting and cut the first half of the batting. I repeated the process for the second half. All that remains is to join the two pieces.

Cutting the batting for the table topper

Joining the batting

I’m joining the two batting pieces with the sewing machine. I’ve selected a wide zigzag stitch to join the batting. I could have chosen the 3-step zigzag instead of the wide zigzag. For no particular reason, I went with a wide (5.0) zigzag. I carefully placed the two pieces of batting (you don’t want to stretch either of them) side by side on the extension table and joined them with the wide zigzag. In the photo below, you can see that I used a general purpose sewing foot.

I could also have used the Edge Joining Foot (with the flange in the center) to help keep the pieces of batting lined up so that the zigzag stitch fell equally on both sides of the join.

Using a wide zigzag stitch to join two pieces of batting

Here’s the finished seam. A nice join, no stretching or buckling. Just the way you want it. This technique works for any size batting pieces, but be sure to not stretch the batting as you’re joining it or you’ll get puckers. Again – if you start small, you get the hang of the process and then you know what to look for when working with larger pieces.

Two batting pieces are joined with a wide zigzag stitch

Because this piece is small (about 24″ at the widest angle), I didn’t bother to formally baste it. I simply used a steam iron and pressed both the top and the back well with the batting sandwiched between. If you’re not comfortable with that process, then I would highly recommend that you baste using pins or spray baste.

It doesn’t matter which method you use for basting, you MUST, MUST, MUST always check the back on a very regular basis to ensure there are no tucks. Big project, small project, – always check. If there’s an issue, it’s a lot easier to catch it right up front rather than after you’ve completed all the quilting.

The table topper is basted and ready for quilting

At my house, whenever anything goes into the “to be quilted” pile, my requirement is that the top is completely finished, the backing is prepared and the binding is also made. In this case, the binding wasn’t made, but the strips were cut. That means when I get the piece quilted, there’s no need to go searching for that matching fabric. It’s right there.

I swear if we were more organized with how we work, we’d all be twice as productive as we currently are.

Strips of fabric are ready to be made into the binding

Designing the quilting pattern

This next step is sometimes the hardest one. Even harder than the actual quilting. How to quilt the piece? Even I find myself at a loss sometimes for how to quilt something. Like anything, the more that you do, the more experienced you become and choosing a design gets easier.

I’m happy to use my Interchangeable Dual Feed Foot with the feed teeth up, but I’m just as happy to do free motion quilting with the feed teeth down. I find free motion quilting is faster and I like fast.

TIP 1 Get out the permanent marker!

Gasp? A permanent marker near a quilt. You bet and I’ll even draw on the quilt. WAIT – I’ll lay a sheet of cellophane on the quilt before I uncap the permanent marker.

In this case, because the piece was small, I laid the cellophane over the entire piece. But if I’m working on a large quilt, I only play with one block.

I want to create a design that is continuous, if possible. I don’t want to have to start and stop several times as that “wastes” a lot of time. So how to find a pattern with a continuous line??

Cellophane and a Sharpie

TIP 2 Aim for continuous lines

At first glance, it doesn’t look that easy to find a way to do a continuous line of stitching around that star. But if you break the components down into shapes that do NOT necessarily follow the seams, you can come up with numerous shapes which allow for continuous lines.

By drawing on the cellophane, I’m doing two things. First, I get to see if I like the quilting on the quilt. I also get to test the logistics – can I move around the quilt with a continuous line? If not, then maybe I need to choose something else.

Trust me, I’ve made many, many mistakes with this process. But here’s the good news. You learn from mistakes. I think it’s the only way to learn when it comes to quilting. Drawing on the cellophane means there were no stitches that needed to be ripped out. I’m much faster at this process than I used to be. I also tend to use the same or similar patterns. That’s OK – it’s better to be very comfortable with a handful of patterns than trying to dream up something new each and every time.

Here I’ve used a version of my inward/outward spiral in a rectangular shape to try one idea.

At this stage, the lines don’t have to be pretty – you just need to get the concept.

A continuous line of stitching drawn on the cellophane

In case you don’t know what I mean by the inward/outward spiral, here’re two pictures. The first is the spiral. Follow the lines to see how I did it. As I go towards the center, I leave space so that I can work my way back out. It’s easy to modify the style to any shape as I did in the rectangle.

Inward/outward spiral

Inward/outward rectangle

Then I thought I’d try a different idea in the border. I’ve divided the border into equilateral triangles. I could have stopped here and used the Interchangeable Dual Feed Foot to do the stitching. But I like lots of quilting on my pieces. So I’m trying to create the shape of the equilateral triangles by quilting the squiggly lines. I won’t be stitching the straight lines. They are just a reference. Hmm – I like that.

A continuous line pattern based on equilateral triangles

Matter of fact, I liked it so much that I decided to try it in the center star. I think this will work just fine.

Trying the equilateral triangles in the center star

I briefly played with some fill patterns for the white sections. My mind is not made up yet. I’ll quilt the green parts first because I know what I want there. Hopefully by the time the green sections are done that I’ll have some inspiration for the white sections.

This is what my cellophane looks like when I remove it from the piece. It’s a good reference as I get ready to mark the top.

My drawn designs on the cellophane

TIP 3 Create reference points

I’ve used a chaco-liner to create those straight lines. In this instance, I won’t be quilting on those reference lines. I’ll be using them to ensure that my quilting design stays within each equilateral triangle. The chalk will bounce away as you quilt. It’s the simplest way to get a mark on and off a quilt.

Using a chaco-liner and a ruler to create reference marks

Setting up the BRILLIANCE 75Q

We now have all our tools and supplies. We’ve chosen the quilting design. But we’re still not ready. I know – who knew there was so much work to do BEFORE you start to quilt. Honestly, the time prepping is about three times as long as the actual quilting process.

Next up, I need to choose and install the appropriate free motion foot. I’m using the Free Motion Spring Action foot rather than the Floating foot. For more information on when to choose one over the other, you can check out this link.

I have two different Free Motion Spring Action feet. One is metal and has an opening in the front called an Open Toe Free Motion Spring Action foot. The other is plastic and is completely closed in. They do the same job, but my preference is the metal one since it’s completely open in the front and it allows me to see small details better.

A metal Open Toe Free Motion Spring Action foot and a plastic Free Motion Spring Action foot

Make sure when you install the foot onto the BRILLIANCE 75Q that you install it correctly. See that little bar on the foot? It has to be over the top of the needle screw or it won’t work.

The Open Toe Free Motion Spring Action foot installed on the sewing machine

It’s super easy to move into free motion quilting on the BRILLIANCE 75Q. See the box with the squiggly line? Touch it!!!

The box with the squiggly line will move the BRILLIANCE 75Q into the free motion mode

You’ll then get a message asking you to identify which style of free motion foot that you’re using. Since I’ve installed the spring action foot, I’ll select Spring Action. You can actually go into free motion mode using other stitches as well.

The feed teeth are automatically dropped and the tension settings are adjusted. Remember I’ve used the Exclusive Stitch Advisor to select HEAVY WOVEN as my fabric.

Pop up menu as I move into the free motion mode

The Thread

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll realize that there’s ONE thing that I haven’t mentioned. Something very, very important. That’s what thread to use!

I want to keep the variables super simple as I start this quilting process. I’ve chosen a matching green thread. The thread is a 50wt and is a typical thread that I would use to piece a quilt with. There’s no need for fancy stuff, especially if you’re learning. If your machine is happy with this piecing thread, it should be happy using the same thread for the quilting process.

And the matching thread means that we’ll see the texture of the quilting, not the quilting stitches. And when you first start machine quilting, you may not want anyone to see your stitches. camouflage them! It’s that simple!

As for the needle? I’m using a size 80/12 Microtex Sharp. The same needle that I would piece with. Remember – let’s keep the variables simple so we don’t have to think about them.

Matching thread for the quilting

Let’s see – we now have our thread, needle, and free motion foot installed. We’ve set up all the functions on the BRILLIANCE 75Q. We’ve got our gloves, we’ve chosen the pattern. All that’s left is to take a small test run on our practice sample to see if everything is working.

Look at those beautifully formed stitched. And they are equally beautiful on the back as on the front. Do you know what that means? Yep – it’s show time!!!

Well-formed quilting stitches on the front of the practice piece

I’m running out of time today! I’ll show you the finished project tomorrow when I chat a wee bit more about thread colors and show you how I decided on the fill pattern for the white bits. I’ll also explain how I used those high tech tools that I showed you on Monday to help me with my quilting.

And that’s a wrap on another exciting day spent with the Husqvarna Viking BRILLIANCE 75Q. At this rate, I’ll get much done this week. But these past two days were all about the prep. Now that the prep is done, the rest of the week should go faster!

Have a great day!


This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 1: Prepping for a quilting marathon with the Husqvarna Viking BRILLIANCE 75Q

Go to part 3: Quilting with the Brilliance 75Q and the technology to lend a helping hand

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Tejal J. Jones September 11, 2019 - 8:46 pm
Hi Elaine, I am looking to buy a new machine for quilting. Want to learn FMQ on small projects. Viking Brilliance 75Q is a new line of machine with computer screen. Do you think this machine will have problems with software down the road? Do u think it may have some issues or bugs that need to be worked out before I decide to buy one. The fabric store where I live has it on sale during the month of Sep. 2019 for $2K + cost of the table. I need your advice and opinion. Thanks TJ
Elaine Theriault September 12, 2019 - 2:53 pm
Tejal - While the Brilliance 75Q is a new line of sewing machine from Husqvarna Viking, I don't think you should experience any problems with the software. Ensure that the machine is kept up to date with any software updates (it happens from time to time). Personally, I haven't heard of any issues with this machine. One thing I would do - check it out at the dealer. Take some fabrics that you like to sew with or quilt with and test them. Look at the tension and see how easy it is to change it. You'll have a lot of growing room with the Brilliance 75Q. Let me know how it goes. Elaine
NancyB from Many LA June 23, 2019 - 9:38 pm
Some good ideas and tips!
Amanda W May 30, 2019 - 11:45 am
The cellophane idea is brilliant! Definitely using that on my next quilt!
Rhonda Best May 28, 2019 - 9:19 am
Very interesting! Thank you for sharing this info.
Beth B May 28, 2019 - 6:39 am
Lots of helpful information here. Choosing a quilting design for the top takes a while to decide what I'll do. Thanks for the info.
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