Need quilt design opinions

OK, quilting peeps. I need opinions here (please).

I have pieced the top of a baby clothes memory quilt. (Argh. This is the worst type of quilt on the face of the earth). Anyway, now I need to quilt it.

This thing is just covered with obstacles - buttons, buckles, zippers, appliques, bows, ruffles, etc. I had originally intended to do a very large meandering stipple so I could strategically avoid the obstacles. Hubby opined that would “ruin” the effect of the various pictures on the clothes. So - another option is to just quilt-in-the-ditch around the 5" squares.

I’ll present my detailed concerns/trade-offs in the hidden details, but what do y’all think?

Detailed concerns

QID approach:

  • Doesn’t obscure images/details
  • Stitching will be mostly in the seams so thread color won’t matter much (I do not plan to keep changing thread colors if I stipple and there isn’t really a single color that won’t be distracting on at least some of the blocks).


  • The seams are bulky in many places and the stitching probably won’t be straight
  • I’m not sure I can stitch through some of the corners, even with a denim needle
  • Some of the garment squares are things like bulky sweaters that would benefit from additional stabilization (i.e., stitching). Everything has interfacing ironed onto the back of it, but sometimes it doesn’t stick very well.

I suppose a third “hybrid” option is to do a meandering squiggle over the seam lines. This alleviates the problem with perfectly straight lines and some of the seam thickness, but then the thread color matters.


What is the backing fabric like? Busy print? Solid color? That would affect my decision, especially if you chose to stitch with multiple colors. I almost always quilt in a medium grey thread because it seems to go with the most colors.

I’m not typically a fan of QID for the reasons you’ve outlined.

Have you considered doing echo stitching around the obstacles? Echo stitching can be a PITA for larger quilts, but this doesn’t look like a huge quilt so it could be a good option.

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Well, I am a stitch-in-the-ditcher, because it’s pretty easy to do. And I think you’ll be surprised how thick a pile you can stitch through. Just go slow and be prepared to slide something like a thin ruler or a folded-up piece of denim under the BACK of the presser foot to even out the pressure when going up a mound without breaking a needle.

Then, I would augment the ditch stitching with free motion and or echo quilting on the blocks that need a bit more or would benefit from the dimension that quilting would add. (around the neckline/placket of the shirt front in the lower-left, for example.)

I’m assuming these blocks are only 4 or 5 inches square? Because I don’t think I would do quilting on the photo transfers of the kids.

And while I’m sure it was every bit the P.I.T.A. that you say, it looks SOOoooo much better than one that a friend was asked to “fix.” The mom had hired a tailor to make this quilt. But evidently, said tailor knew nada about quilt making. Mom had told them NOT to cut up the clothing. So there were whole garments badly stitched to background fabric.

Edit - and perhaps consider looking for a variegated thread? My eye sees a lot of light and medium blues and darkish browns.

are a couple of possible examples. I think Patty at Sew Let’s Quilt it carries most of the King Tut line, and may have cones of many of the threads for the long-arm business. She’d probably be happy to let you try unspooling a bit of her cone thread that looks like a possibility on your top to see what looks best if you choose to go that route.


The backing is the same fabric as the borders. I suspect that she’ll look at the back when I give her the quilt and then never again - so the back isn’t a big concern to me. I’m just too lazy to change thread (and tie off the knots) for every single stinking block.

Thread choice is a big issue. I have a pale thread (it’s actually very pale mint green but blends in well with the blue fabric). But I don’t know what to do on the red squares and the other very dark squares. I’m afraid the pale thread will stand out too much.

Definitely agree with that. The squares are 5". I figured I would do echo quilting around the head and the name - so basically very little on those squares.

I think we all agree some echo quilting is a good solution. Now the question I have to ponder is what other stitching to do … QID or ?

EDIT: @jrkriehn - just saw your edit.

You’re right. She does. That color you suggested looks real good. I will probably ditch the Aurifil I bought.

No quilting advice from me, but I just have to say that would make a great jigsaw puzzle.

I am not saying to glue it onto cardboard and cut it up, but take some high resolution pictures of it before it gets faded and/or stained so that a puzzle can be made, assuming that a company exists to do that.

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For what it is worth… I’m a QIDer also. Do what Judy says and you can’t go wrong. :smile:


This is a great suggestion! A little online searching found several places that would do this. This is the one that I think I favor:

This quilt it for my niece and it has clothes from all three of her kids. My mom had the nerve to suggest that I should make three of these quilts. I don’t think so. But this way I could make three puzzles …


I have decided to QID around the blocks, adding some strategic outlining and echo quilting. I bought the variegated thread @jrkriehn suggested above and have started the QID. Aside from the fact that I think my forearms are going to end up looking like Popeye’s because this quilt is so incredibly heavy, I have to say that the QID is going better than I expected. It’s going well, in fact. The lines are much straighter than I expected and I’m able to pass over the thick stuff. It even looks passable from the back.

I think this is the first time I have successfully used my “ditch” foot. I tried it before on a couple layers of cotton and it didn’t help much - but with the very thick and puffy stuff the foot follows the ditch well.

Thanks everyone for the help!


If you havent already finished, I could loan you my “Weightless Quilter” setup.

It may not be a lot of help while stitching in the ditch, but it definitely helps control the weight while doing the freemotion part.

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If you liked that, I have another…

Vectorize the picture and print it for the kids to color.

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Hahaha! Funny lady!

I’m halfway through the stitch in the ditch part. That part is going OK - I have an L-shaped pair of tables holding a most of the weight.

However, that may or may not be much help when I get to the FMQ part. I might take you up on the Weightless Quilter setup.