What is “Echo Quilting"?

Start with the word, “echo.”
An echo is:

  • a repetition of sound produced by the reflection of sound waves from a wall, mountain, or other obstructing surface.
  • a sound heard again near its source after being reflected.
  • any repetition or close imitation, as of the ideas or opinions of another.
  • a person who reflects or imitates another.

I think of echoes as being very similar to ripples in the water after you toss a pebble into it. 


Let’s translate that idea onto cloth or paper. Grab a piece of paper and draw a simple shape, like the blob shown here.
Next, take your pencil and go around it one time following the shape of the blog. Don’t worry about absolute accuracy in width, just do it. Now do it again. And again. Now imagine doing that with a needle and thread! That would be echo quilting!

The fun part of echo quilting for me is that I don’t have to mark my lines in advance. The freedom that provides is delightful! I am echo quilting the quilt that is currently in my hoop right now. I quilted around the edge of each applique shape once, approximately an eighth of an inch away from the edge of each shape. Once that was completed, I began the process of going around again, this time about a quarter-inch away from the first stitching line. And again. And around again. 


There will come a time in some projects where you will work yourself into an area and wonder how you are going to get out of it. Take a close look at the area in the photo below. Can you see where that happened?


There are no hard and fast rules about how to tackle a situation like this. You just do it as you think it would look best for you. I try to stick to echoes that are about the same width as I go around, but again, I don’t really worry about absolute accuracy. When this quilt is all finished, you won’t look at it with a ruler in your hand, and it won’t be noticeable.


What are you working on that could use some echo quilting?

The quilting above is stitched with Presencia 40 wt. thread, color #207, available at www.HandQuiltingSupplies.com .

Purple Reign hand quilting progress

Lest you think I have been slacking off, here is proof that I have been quilting.  I started working on the quilting on this in early winter.  It’s going to be roughly 60 inches square when it is finished.  Normally, you would quilt a quilt from the center out.  I have done that.  However, in the center what I did was quilt just a smidgeon around each shape (smidgeon is a little more than a thread’s width and less than a quarter-inch; it’s a technical term). Then I began working on the borders, where most of the hard work is.  When the borders are finished, I will go back to the center section and echo quilt about every 1/4 inch or so.  It’s okay to do that last, as the quilt will have enough quilting in it to hold it in place.  Nothing will shift on me!

Here are some photos of what has taken place thus far so you know I’m not making this up. Clicking on a photo will open it up to a larger size.







Do you see all the little brass pins in the quilt?  Those were put there before I started quilting.  It’s called “pin basting,” and is something a hand quilter does to hold the three layers of the QUILT SANDWICH together during the quilting process. (You could thread baste I guess, but it wastes thread, takes a lot longer, and you have to keep threading the needle over and over.  Why bother?!?!?  I have had these brass pins since about 1978.  The same box of them.  They don’t die.  They last and last and last and last.  I bought a new box a few weeks ago to share with you! 


coffeepinsAs I am quilting and get close to a pin, I carefully remove it and drop it into this fancy container (a “Bin O’Pins”).  So why brass pins?  Because they last forever!  They are thin and won’t leave holes in your fabric.  Seriously!  So I bought a box of them at wholesale cost, and divided them up into 5 snack-size zip lock bags.  One of these bags might have YOUR name on it! 


HandQuiltingSupplies.com is open for business, and five lucky people get to purchase a bag of brass pins at WHOLESALE cost!  All you have to do is visit the shop and place an order for $20 or more and receive a bag of brass pins at wholesale (half-off) cost.  Place your order and use the code BPB-5 to receive your discount.  Pretty easy!  Fancy “Bin O’Pins” not included.

Hope to see you in the shop soon!

How do you choose which quilting project to work on?

If you are reading this blog, chances are pretty good that you are a quilter.  And, if you are indeed a quilter, you have within your DNA  a unique bit of biological information that makes it nearly impossible for you to only work on one quilting project at a time.  Rather, it renders you utterly indecisive. Let me help you understand by giving an example.

I have many projects in various stages of completion. 

1) Redwork Owl DSC02875
2) My own Jane Stickle variation IMG_1915
3) Barn Owl

(Yes, I know, there is no owl there… yet. Leave me alone!)

Barn Owl
4) Feathered Star ESQG presentation
  5) Purple Reign Floral

It should be noted that this list does not include quilts which exist only in my brain.  I have found that QIB’s (Quilts in Brain) can be more dangerous than quilts which have

  1. emerged into semi-reality based on hours spent in Pinterest or magazine reading
  2. fabric which has been selected and is already in the home
  3. a sketched design
  4. any measuring that includes a ruler/yardstick/tape measure

And WHY, you might be wondering?  How can a QIB be dangerous?

A QIB sneaks into your consciousness at a moment’s notice.  It stays there, driving you crazy, and you try to force yourself not to think about it.  You tryg to make it go away.  But no.  You start seeing the design in your mind.  At first, you just see the shapes.  Then the shapes turn into various different color combinations.  The combinations morph into thoughts of needing more fabric.  And then quilt size becomes an issue.  If you must make it, how large of a commitment will this be?  Tiny?  Huge?  You don’t know how much fabric to buy.  Thoughts of a whole bolt tickle your brain.  It makes sense.  With a whole bolt, you will certainly have enough.

Eventually, you will begin to wrestle with yourself.  An argument ensues. 

“I really should not begin another quilt until I finish X number of quilts I have already started.”

“Yes, but this quilt will be SO FABULOUS!”

“But it will require me to spend more money on fabric that will just sit in my stash, taunting me.”

“I know, but if I don’t buy the fabric now, it might not be available when I need it.”

“Yes, but how will I hide the fabric once it is in the house?”

“I can put it in my sock drawer.  Nobody will find it there.”

“I will want to start the quilt as soon as I buy the fabric.”

“No, I won’t.  I will be strong!”

“OK, yes I will.  But this should be an easy quilt to piece/applique, and I can get it done in no time at all.”

“What about the quilt I am working on now?  That will never get finished if I start another one.”

“Yes it will.  I must finish that quilt.  But I need to start this one before I forget it!”

  “I need to find my car keys. Have you seen them?”


Yes, it seems funny.  But you and I both know there is a ton of truth here.

How do YOU stop the madness?  What is YOUR secret?

Success: Applique and Design Wall Beginning

In May our quilt guild sponsored a workshop by  Karen Kay Buckley, and this is the wall hanging that she designed and we worked on while learning her applique techniques.  I finished the applique this afternoon, but am taking it to another level and incorporating it into a larger wall quilt.  I prefer muted tones, and purple is no one of the colors I usually include in my work.  that has now changed, and I have to say, I am delighted to be able to put more color in this quilt than I normally would have.  I love it!  when it is finished, it will have even MORE purple. (And no, should you be wondering, I will NOT join the Red Hat Ladies group and wear a red hat with a purple dress – or anything else, thank you very much.)  Anyway, this portion of my quilt is finished, and I will work on the next part of the quilt tomorrow evening and see how it goes.  Stay tuned!Purple Reign

For the past several years, I have puttered away at the blocks for a Stickle quilt.  I have decided that I am not going to make a replica of the original, but do my own thing with the blocks I have made thus far.  It goes along with my disdain  for “CARBON COPY QUILTS.”  I detest getting catalogs from companies that try and sell quilt kits with the pattern that goes with them… you know the kind.  They have enough of the exact same fabrics as used in the sample quilt photo, and you buy the kit so you can have a duplicate of their quilt. 

Why do they bother me so much?

I know that many people see quilts they like and want to have their own “just like that one.”  I believe that if you are taking your time and money to make a quilt, it should reflect YOUR own talents and artistic design.  If you look back at quilting throughout history, you will see numerous designs made popular, but each quilter puts his or her own “spin” on the design.  Should you wish to see examples of what I am referring to, you might want to follow Willy Wonky’s blog at http://WillyWonkyQuilts.blogspot.com . Take a look at his collection of New York Beauty quilts, and see how many variations you see.  That’s what I mean.

So, today I started to create a quilt using the blocks I have completed thus far.  Here’s Part 1:


Once this was completed, I played with part 2 on my BRAND NEW DESIGN WALL.  Here’s what I have so far, and I think I like it and will start putting it together this week, working on an off between this quilt and the Purple Reign quilt above.  This take-off on the Stickle quilt will be called “Dear Samantha Jane,” and is intended to go one day  to my darling granddaughter, Samantha Jane Mosey.  And, I might add, Miss Sammy Jane stole the show in her dance recital last night in Clarkston, Michigan.  If I can get my hands on a photo of her in her ballerina splendor, I will post it immediately. DesignWall1

You can follow the progress on the Dear Samantha Jane quilt by clicking on the button on the right-hand side of this blog, which will take you to all postings that include this quilt.