Quilt Embellishments

Quilt embellishments can be added to a quilt to add a layer of dimension, to provide extra sentimental value, and to even personalize a quilt further. Any quilt can be embellished by several methods. Some need to be added to the blocks before the quilt is quilted and some have to be added after the quilt sandwich is quilted.

The idea of embellishing a quilt is not new. Coverlets in the eighteenth century often times were framed with a fringe.Quilt Embellishments There are examples of piping added to the outer borders of a quilt. During the “crazy quilt” era at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth, embellishing quilts became the norm, and trinkets, buttons, silk ribbons, and all sorts of embroidered stitches were used to complete the look of the crazy quilts. Fringe was also used to finish the edges of a quilt.

Embellishing With Thread

With the advent of art quilting, embellishing became fashion again. In this case, embellishments become an integral part of the quilt, and many items can be used to add to the look of the quilt. Also, quilting itself becomes an added embellishment. Normally, quilting is used as much as to hold all three layers of the quilt together as well as to offer interest by adding texture and a dimensional look to an otherwise two dimensional object. Art quilts use quilting as more. The use of metallic and textured threads to quilt the pieces adds sparkle and interest. The use of these types of threads can pose somewhat of a problem, as they are not as easy to use as cotton about Quilt Embellishmentsthreads. Rayon and metallic threads used as embellishments when machine quilting tends to fray and break. Using a different needle, like embroidery or jeans needle size 90 might help to keep the thread intact. Also consider the bobbin thread and tension of the machine. Use a thinner bobbin thread and loosen the tension both in the bobbin and the upper mechanism. Stitch at a slower speed and if you are still having trouble, consider using a thread conditioner when embellishing with rayon or silk threads. It is a silicone liquid used on thread (acid free and non-staining) and it helps lubricate the thread guides and tension mechanism to avoid the friction that can lead to thread breakage.
Other embellishments a quilter can add to a quilt include rick-rack, ribbon or lace. These two can be added to the quilt blocks before a quilt is quilted. In both cases, test for colorfastness and shrink before applying to the quilt. They need to be added to compliment or highlight the block pattern. Advantages to adding these types of embellishments are the fact they aren’t heavy, they are washable and since they are stitched down before the quilt is quilted, they will last as long as the quilt lasts.
Surface embroidery needs to also be completed after the quilt block is sewn, but before it is quilted. When hand folk ar tQuilt Embellishmentsembroidering quilt blocks, once again, make sure whatever threads are used are colorfast if you plan on laundering the quilt. Most often, embroidery is done with six-strand cotton floss. Purchase a good brand to avoid problems later on, for durability and colorfastness. If machine embroidery is used, there is a wider range of threads that can be used. Entire blocks can be embroidered, or parts of a block can be enhanced by embroidery. Embroidery can also be used to add words or phrases meaningful to the quiltmaker. Embroidery is often used in primitive folk style quilts.
Blocks to be quilted need to be stabilized with a foundation and be large enough to fit in a hoop in order to machine embroider.

Other Embellishments

The other group of embellishments that can be added to a quilt include those that, for the most part, need to be sewn Quilt Embellishmentsdown after the quilt is complete. Items such as buttons, beads, charms, sequins, ephemera and other trinkets can be added after the quilt is finished. One has to consider the fact that they add weight to the quilt, they might or might not make washing the quilt easy or at all possible and they are best applied to wall quilts that won’t be laundered at all. These items can break or become unstitched or unglued when quilts are laundered. Some of these items can also loose their color when washed and stain the surface of the quilt. They also add weight, so they might not be practical for a large bed quilt, which already weighs a lot. In the case of baby quilts, whichever embellishment is used, they need to be most securely attached, so that baby can’t pull them out, thus becoming a choking hazard.

These items are normally stitched after the quilt is finished. Hand needles, thread and a pair of small, sharp scissors are needed to stitch these to the quilt. Use good light and stitch them securely. Try to make the stitches showing on the back of the quilt as neat as possible. Embellishments can also be glued to the quilt. If gluing, an adhesive safe for fabric needs to be used. Consider the weight of the items being stitched or glued, if the quilt is to be displayed as a wall hanging. Do not add items that are so heavy that they will make the quilt sag or hang in an uneven manner.

For more information on quilting for beginners please click here!

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