When free-motion quilting a lot of background fabric, you might not know how to fill in the negative space. Sometimes it can be helpful to break up the solid background into what's called a "grid" for your free-motion quilting designs to rest inside.
Quilting grids can come in many basic shapes, like squares, diamonds, and triangles.
Within each of those shapes, you can change the angles slightly to get different effects. Having these smaller shapes to quilt inside can really give you more confidence to try out advanced free-motion designs, because you can focus on one small piece at a time, rather than worrying about filling a massive space!
How to create the grid
To make the quilting grids, you'll either want to use a longarm machine with a quilting ruler, to get your lines as straight as possible, or use a domestic machine with your walking foot to quilt straight lines.
Using a wash-away fabric marker is a great way to mark the lines for quilting, and you can sew right on top of them if you've got it pre-marked!
Here are 8 types of grids to inspire your quilting designs!
Square and rectangles
1. Square: Easy peasy — you have four sides of equal length, and four 90-degree angles. You can arrange the squares straight or on point (to look almost like a diamond). Simply create horizontal and vertical lines that are perfectly parallel and all equidistant from each other.
2. Rectangle: Almost as easy as a square, but with a tad bit more planning. You'll have two pairs of sides of equal length, and four 90-degree angles. For this, you still want your horizontal and vertical lines to be parallel. However, the horizontal lines will be spaced apart by one measurement, and the vertical lines will use a different measurement for spacing.
3. Rhombus: To create a rhombus grid, you'll create shapes where each side is the same length, but you have two pairs of matching angles. This shape looks like a classic diamond.
4. Parallelogram: This shape is similar to a rhombus, but only opposite sides are the same length. That is, the shape can be elongated in either direction.
5. Equilateral Triangle: An equilateral triangle — where all three sides are the same length and all three angles are 60 degrees — gives you a consistent grid across your quilt. You can also easily vary the size of the triangles to suit your quilting style.
6. Right Triangle: This is the easiest triangle to create! You start by creating a square or rectangle grid, then slice the rectangle in half diagonally.
7. Isosceles Triangle: Like the right triangle, this grid starts with another design. Begin by creating a diamond grid, then slice the diamonds in half through two of the points.
Once you've finished quilting your basic grid, it's time to have some fun and experiment with free-motion quilting designs!
Remember, you can always sub-divide your square grid into triangle shapes with your quilting designs to change it up, or you can soften a geometric pattern by adding swirls, feathers, and wavy lines. Try quilting an entire row of your grid in the same pattern, and you'll become confident in drawing those designs.
Are you ready to dive headfirst into grid quilting?
Check out the new class “Quilting on the Grid,” where free-motion maven Christina Cameli teaches you how to use grids to your advantage as you explore new possibilities in free-motion quilting designs. We'll also be back to share some great free-motion filler designs you can use to fill in specific shapes on your quilt (like diamonds, squares and triangles).