You know we’re big fans of Alissa Haight Carlton from Handmade by Alissa. She’s the talented designer behind our Modern Block of the Month (BOM) Sew-Along Series inspired by Block Party: The Modern Quilting Bee: The Journey of 12 Women, 1 Blog & 12 Improvisational Projects, a book written by Alissa and Kristen Lejnieks.

We’re inspired by Alissa’s NEW Modern Minimal: 20 Bold & Graphic Quilts too! All of the designs in the book were imagined as a full quilt top first, and do not use a traditional approach of sewing multiple quilt blocks to create the full top but rather come together as a full design from the start of your piecing. This makes the designs quick and satisfying, and Alissa says many of the tops can be completed in just one or two sewing sessions. All of the designs use 1/4″-seam piecing with straight lines (no triangles or circles!), making the book super-accessible to beginning quilters.

The designs include good use of solid fabrics and negative space. Alissa places a big emphasis on variations for the quilting, which we absolutely love. Rather than seeing the quilting process as almost an afterthought, Alissa shows that the quilting makes just as much of an impact as the fabric and pattern. All of that– great designs with high impact, super quilting variations, satisfying and accessible quilts– is presented in Modern Minimal: 20 Bold & Graphic Quilts without being overly complicated or intimidating.

Alissa’s quilting variations are some of our favorite parts of the new book so we asked her to talk a little more about these today. Alissa shows us how quilting can change the look and feel of a quilt by demonstrating quilting options on some of the digital quilts in our Modern BOM series.

Stash Books is offering one Sew,Mama,Sew! reader a copy of Modern Minimal: 20 Bold & Graphic Quilts! (A hard copy if the winner is in the US, ebook if the winner has an international address.) Comment on today’s post for your chance to win, and enjoy Alissa’s quilting tips below.

From Alissa: In Modern Minimal: 20 Bold & Graphic Quilts I give two examples of how to quilt each of the 20 quilt patterns included in the book. The quilting you decide to do can completely change the feeling and texture of your finished quilt.

To demonstrate this, I’ve given a few examples of quilting options on some of the digital quilts that I’ve put together with the Sew,Mama,Sew! Modern Block of the Month blocks.

Let’s start with the recently posted block for March. This is one of the layouts that the block can create:

And here are two options of how you could quilt this layout.

This first option has some diagonal lines across the quilt with some zigzagging that follows the piecing design.

When quilting diagonally like this, it’s best to start in the middle of the quilt and work your way out. That means that first you’ll sew the center most portion of the zigzagging. And then the two center portions of the straight lines.

When sewing straight lines like this, it’s best to draw on the first line of your quilting (with chalk or a fabric pen) so that you know it’s straight and travels down the quilt in the direction you’d like. Then, depending on the density you’d like to quilt the lines, you can use the edge or your walking foot or you can use a quilting bar to keep your lines parallel. Some people like to put painter’s tape on the quilt as a guide that they move along with them as they quilt line after line.

Continue working from the center out until you’ve filled in one entire side of the quilt top. Then, flip the quilt 180 degrees and fill in the other side. This way, the more quilting you get done, the less of the quilt top you have to squeeze through the throat of your machine and the easier it gets.

Another straightforward way to quilt this quilt is to simply fill it with dense straight lines that run vertically.

Start in the center of the quilt and work your way to the right, seam by seam. When you’ve reached the outside edge, turn the whole quilt 180 degrees, start in the center again and work your way to the right until you get to the other outside edge.

When I quilt in this manner, I use the edge of my walking foot as the guide for each seam I sew.

Moving on to a quilt layout from October’s block.

This quilt has a lot of negative space, so there are limitless ways to fill it in.

First, why not use some free motion quilting skills and create rows of wave like patterns to fill in all of the negative space?

If you make sure your quilt is very well basted you don’t have to work from the middle out. Fill in the entire central panel of free motion quilting first, but work in rows, from the top of the quilt to the bottom. Then using the piecing of the blocks as a guide, fill in the piecing with dense straight lines as pictured. Finally, finish up by filling in one outside edge, and then the other, with the free motion waves. Again, start at the top and work your way to the bottom in rows.

An entirely different look is given to the quilt if you do all straight-line quilting that echoes the piecing. Start with the center panel again and follow the piecing to create the first zigzag. Then simply keep echoing the seams you sew, until you’ve filled in the whole center panel. When portions are filled with quilting, simplify the zigzag, to be able to keep on filling in, echoing line by line. Next, fill in the piecing of the blocks with two less dense spirals as pictured. Finish up by filling in either side of the quilt with more zigzagging dense lines.

Finally, let’s look at a layout from December’s block.

This block design creates an optical illusion of perspective.

This straight-line grid pattern all over the quilt top keeps the look of that illusion going. To quilt in this manner, turn the quilt on its side and start in the middle, filling in the horizontal lines, working to your right. Here I’ve pictured the lines following the piecing on the first block but then just running straight all the way across the quilt. A line runs along either outside edge of every color and down the middle of each color. Once you’ve worked your way all the way to the right, turn the entire quilt 180 degrees and fill in the other side in the same way. Then you can fill in the vertical lines on the quilt and also the lines that follow the piecing at a diagonal. Those lines need to stop and start in the middle of the quilt top, so always remember to sew locking stitches at the beginning and end of them. You can trim all of your threads later, or do it as you go–- It’s completely up to you!

A softer way to quilt this quilt is to fill in all of the color in the top with pebble free motion quilting. This can be a time consuming quilting choice, but it adds really wonderful texture. If you were to quilt in this design, all of the un-quilted negative space would look a bit puffy compared to the pebble quilted areas.

I hope that these quilting ideas help you to come up with your own and realize that you can mix and match quilt patterns and quilting designs in countless different ways. Why not step out of your stippling routine and try something new? More involved quilting patterns definitely take more time but oh, how the results are worth it!