Making your own Quilting Motifs

Custom motifs

I first did this quilt layout (pattern) for a customer awhile ago with custom motifs of hummingbirds (you can see it here). She showed a friend that had done the same quilt and so I received it as well.  I told them that I wouldn’t repeat the quilting as the hummingbirds were unique to the first quilt so we decided on butterflies instead.

Once again – Google is my friend – and I found some copyright free pics of butterflies and played with them until I found the basic shape I wanted and

making the butterfly template

then designed the wing to suit quilting.  After finalizing the outline on paper I dry-iron it to a sheet of freezer paper and then add three more sheets of freezer paper to the back so the butterfly still showed.  I find that this makes for a nice firm template that I can use to mark the quilt top.  Remember to use a dry iron to build up the freezer paper – if you use steam you will end up shrinking the paper and it will curl on you.  Once it has cooled I cut it out and can then use it to outline the shape on the top.  I usually use an air-erasable marker or chalk but remember to test these on the edge of the quilt first!

The four red border corner square were also to have something special in them.  I didn’t want to repeat the pansy basket I did on the other one so instead I put a feather basket in there as well as a feather border. Each basket was done free-hand, no chalking, except for the square bottom basket that I used a ruler for.


Because they are all freehand – each basket is slightly different.


This is the first time I’ve ever put this type of feather onto a quilt.  They are ‘formal feathers’ or ‘victorian feathers’ or ‘over-the-top’ feathers; they are called many different things.   I’ve played with them and have recently taken an on-line class for them.  I do like the look of this feather but you really have to PPP alot! including time spent drawing them over and over and over.



Here are some shots of the butterflies.  You will see that once I actually started quilting them I didn’t follow the pattern I had drawn on the paper.  I found that it was too busy and would not give a nice puffy contrast so I simply put 3 feathers inside the wings.

butterfly motif

The butterflies go around the outside of the quilt – all of them facing away from the centre  as if they are flying out from the quilt.  I really thought about turning the bottom two butterflies because there is a definite top to this quilt but it just didn’t look right.  You can see the corner butterfly in the ‘feather’ picture above – that is simply half of my template with an extra wing added in the background.

I did the formal feather border but of course it doesn’t show up that well so I’ve included a picture of the back of the quilt.  Frustrating that it is the back of the quilt where some of our hard work shows up the best LOL

formal feather border - back of quilt

All of the thread used was Superior’s So Fine! Remember – all thread orders over $55 have NO shipping charges!

2 thoughts on “Making your own Quilting Motifs

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