MN2302 Hovea / Sewalongs

Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design & Planning

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design & Planning

Next up in our Hovea sewalong we’re continuing our quilting prep by sitting down and having a think about the look and feel we’d like to create for our jackets and about some of the finer details of their design! This post covers a few things that you’ll need to take into consideration when deciding on a stitch pattern for your quilted Hovea (or any quilting project for that matter!) as well as some design inspiration and methods of transferring that design onto your fabric, ready to be quilted. The design & planning part of sewing is one of my favourite bits, so I hope you’re all as excited as me to get started!

The Hovea Jacket and Coat sewing pattern from Megan Nielsen has a loose fit for layering in cold weatherPlanning Your Designs

It’s brainstorming time people! You know what that means – time to have a dig through your old sketchbooks for interesting squiggles you’ve drawn, get yourself nicely caffeinated ready for a Pinterest deep dive and to lay out your fabrics in a nest shape on the floor for you to sit and think in (that last one might just be a me thing).

Choosing the quilting pattern for your Hovea jacket is an opportunity for you to really make it your own. Are you wanting something bold and unique? Or maybe something simple and classic? The possibilities are endless…and honestly, that can be a bit intimidating! Not to worry though, we’ve got the perfect thing for you to start organising that swirl of creative chaos that’s spinning around your head – some sketch templates!

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Hovea Planning Templates

You can access the Hovea Planning Template by signing up to our Newsletter here, print it out and just start jotting down some ideas. Don’t be precious about it and don’t stress if you’re not a skilled artist, this is just the time to write down, sketch out, collage & fully visualise anything & everything. Quilting can be a full on process, so if you can test out a bunch of ideas on paper first before you throw yourself into the sewing part, you’re going to save yourself a lot of time and a lot of – oh no I’ve spent 20 hours on this project and I’m not sure I even like it – moments. Saying that, this is also supposed to be fun, so don’t stress too much! You’re not choosing a life partner, you’re choosing a quilting pattern (although who knows, if you love your jacket maybe you will have it for life!).

If you’ve narrowed down your ideas and are looking to visualise on a more real-life scale, you can even try sketching your design out on your paper pattern pieces! You can also use this later when you’re transferring the design onto your jacket pieces.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Drawing On Your Pattern Pieces For Full Scale Planning

An important thing to consider: Density

Quilting is such a versatile craft and the potential results you can achieve with it are equally diverse. Quilted items can be soft & luxuriously squishy or the complete opposite – sturdy, structured and even hard. Where your project will land on the quilting scale can be determined by things like the type and thickness of batting you use, the kind of fabric you choose, as well as one of the most important factors – stitch density.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Stitch DensityThe closer your stitching is, the firmer & thinner your quilting will become – too dense and you’re wearing a box and moving with robot arms. Too loose and spread out though and you can lose the wonderful puffy texture and depth that quilting can achieve. Not only that, but if your stitching is not dense enough, your wadding can separate and go rogue over time & multiple washes – moving around as it pleases and potentially becoming lumpy and bottom heavy. Like in life, compromise is key.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Stitch DensityYour first step in deciding on your stitch pattern density is to check your wadding’s recommended stitch spacing. Using this as a maximum for the distance between your stitching is going to mean a longer lasting garment (as it will avoid the rogue batting I just mentioned) and a better looking end result. As for the minimum distance though – that’s up to you and is best determined by testing! Nothing like a good test swatch (or 12) to make sure your end result has the exact look and feel that your hoping for. Lots of testing also helps to refine your design and to get into the swing of quilting if it’s not something you’re used to.

Another important thing to consider: Flow Of Design Around The Body

Something one of my university lecturers used to say that has stuck in my brain is that bodies are not 2D, so your designs shouldn’t be either! Sure we have a front and a back, but we also have sides! And our poor sides often get neglected in the ol’ design department. Something that can really elevate a garment’s design is to take those extra dimensions into consideration and to keep stitch patterns and design lines flowing around the body. Planning this out and lining things up can be tricky and debatably not worth the effort, but when you see a jacket where lines of stitching meet perfectly at the side seams and designs flow continuously from the pocket, to the front and then over the shoulder to the back – ooh la la! *chef kiss*

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Continuous Design LinesThe thing to remember when marking out these continuous designs is seam allowances! If you’re planning an angled line across a seam, the point where the design meets isn’t at the edge of the fabric, it’s at the edge of the seam allowances on your stitching line, so marking your seams out out is an important first step.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Continuous Design LinesAfter that, you can start your design on one side and when you’re ready to continue it across just chose a common point of reference like the hemline and take measurements between this reference point and where your design intersects with the stitching line to then transfer across. With those marked out, you can accurately align the pieces with the seam allowances folded out of the way and continue to draw your design lines over to the other piece.

It’s even easier if you’re continuing a design from one piece to another that isn’t joined by a seam (for example from the top of the pocket to the front, or across two front pieces). Just line those babies up where they’re going to sit when they’re sewn and draw away! Eventually there will even be a line of binding in between to very politely cover up any slight misses in alignment!

Something else to think about in terms of flow of design is how you can use the opposite approach to create a feature. Contrasting different stitching directions and styles between panels can highlight different sections and design lines of the garment and also means you don’t have to pattern match! For example, making your pocket a focal point by sewing it with horizontal stitching in contrast to vertical stitching on your jacket front.

Just one more important thing to consider: Edge-to-Edge Stitching

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Edge-To-Edge StitchingAvoiding stopping and starting your stitching in the middle of your piece is definitely preferable and while it’s a lot to do with your process when you sit down to sew, it’s also an important thing to think about when planning your design, so here we are. When you’re sketching things out, just keep in mind where you’re going to start stitching and where you’re going to finish, with the aim of having all your securing back & forth stitching in your seam allowances. Think about designs that have continuous lines or ones that can discretely double back on themselves.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Edge To Edge StitchingThe other half of this discussion which we’ll get to when we actually start stitching (in our next post) is deciding on the order that you’ll stitch your lines in to ensure you don’t skew things as you push and pull your pieces under the machine and how you can save thread by sewing along the seam allowances to the next line of stitching instead of stopping and starting. But we’ll get to that soon!

Marking Out Your Design

So we’ve got our planning done and we’re ready to put it into practice! Unless you’re a magician who can sew a perfect pattern without a guide though, you’re going to want to transfer your design onto your jacket pieces so you have something to follow as you stitch. There’s heaps of ways to do this and this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, but we’ve covered some really great techniques to get you started.

Your Favourite Marking Tool + Ruler

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Marking Designs With Chalk Or Creasing ToolsTailors chalk, dissolvable pens & creasing tools combined with a handy quilting ruler are a simple & effective way of marking out straight line designs. The lines on a quilting ruler make it really easy to keep consistent spacing and the fact that the plastic is clear means you can see what you’re lining up with below.

In terms of the marking tool to use with it, it really just depends on your preferences as well as the job at hand. I love using the Hera creasing tool as the marks stay in place remarkable well and they don’t leave any residue, but I find them a lot less effective on patterned fabric that can disguise the lines or fabric that doesn’t crease well like synthetics. Chalk can be easy and effective and I really like the chaco chalk liner pen that I mentioned in the last post, but chalk does get rubbed off if you’re quilting a large piece or having to be vigorous with your pieces while sewing. Soluble pens are another alternative, but one which I always recommend testing on your fabric first to make sure they will definitely come out. Like with stitch density, testing out a few to see what works well for you is the best method of deciding!

Templates For Repeat Patterns

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Marking Designs With A TemplateIf you’ve decided on a lovely repeat pattern for your design, especially one that isn’t just straight lines, cutting out a template from a strong bit of cardboard to draw against can make transferring your pattern super easy. Templates are also an effective way of keeping everything really consistent. I like to cut out templates with a couple of repeats in it, so you can overlap it with what you’ve already drawn and keep things on track and heading in a straight line.

Just The Essentials: Dot-to-Dot

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Marking Designs With The Dot-To-Dot MethodMore of a barebones way of marking is to just plot out the major points in your design that you really want to hit and to just eyeball your path between them as you stitch. Basically the quilting equivalent of dot-to-dot. For this sample I used an awl to poke through all the corners and intersections of my design and a pattern notcher to cut out the starting & finishing points of each line of stitching on the edge of my paper. I then used a dissolvable pen to plot my points and went right ahead with stitching them! This method works best for simpler designs as too many dots can just end up being confusing, even if you do keep your design handy as a reference while your sewing.

Soluble Interfacing: Intricate Designs & Easy To Trace Patterns

So the methods we’ve covered so far are great, but don’t work quite as well for really intricate or specific designs. Unless you’re wanting to copy them all out by hand again, transferring the design from paper to fabric can be tricky and inaccurate, plus your markings can often get worn away after 5 minutes of intense quilting. Not to worry though, a wonderful alternative is soluble interfacing!

It’s a brilliant type of interfacing that you can trace your designs onto, baste in place over your quilt sandwich and stitch right on top of. Then like magic, you can pop your pieces into water and it dissolves away – leaving nothing but your amazing quilted design. It’s the perfect method for recreating digital designs which you’ve printed out, like repeat patterns or specific motifs. It’s also potentially a blank canvas for you to draw right onto free-hand with absolute freedom!

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design & Planning | Soluble Interfacing Method Of Transferring Your Quilting DesignThis material is sold in lots of craft places and usually looks a lot like normal non-woven interfacing, but it can also look like a shiny plastic like the one above which was what was in-stock at my local craft store. It’s often more commonly used as a dissolvable stabiliser for embroidery, so people may know it by that name if you need to ask for it. In terms of tools for drawing onto it, I transferred my designs with a non-smudge fine liner pen but on the non-shiny type, you can easily just use pencil.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Dissolving The Soluble Interfacing To Reveal Your Stitching Pattern

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design & Planning | Finished Result Of Soluble Interfacing Method

Design Ideas

The possibilities are endless in terms of quilting design but here are some ideas to get you started. And don’t forget – even though all of my swatches and our samples below have been machine stitched, these ideas could still easily be applied to hand quilting as well!

Simple Straight Line Designs

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Straight Line Quilting DesignsMegan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Straight Line Quilting DesignsThere is something so classic and elegant about straight line quilting patterns and they’re also a great place to start if you’re new to the craft. Not only are they perfect for creating a minimal, paired back look, they can also be used to let your fabric be the feature if it’s got a detailed pattern or patchwork design. Straight line patterns should definitely not be overlooked!

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Straight Line Quilting Design

Geometric Designs

If you’re looking for something a little different, why not experiment with some shapes and curves! You could create a funky repeat pattern or scale things up with some big shapes in a bold modern design. Play with symmetry, muck around with asymmetry, it’s completely up to you!

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design & Planning | Geometric & Curved Quilting DesignsMegan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Geometric & Curved Quilting Designs Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Geometric & Curved Quilting Design

Free Motion Stitching

The natural world can be one of the best sources of inspiration in design and there’s no better way to pay homage to it’s beauty than with the fun organic shapes you can create with free motion stitching! Once you get the hang of it, free motion stitching is like drawing with your machine, but instead of moving your pencil you’re moving the paper underneath it. I’ll be covering some extra tips on the actual mechanics of it in our machine quilting post, but for now let your imagination wander.

You could create your own work of art or keep it simple with a swirling repeat pattern – your fabric is a blank canvas ready for you to paint your ideas onto! Focus on fluid designs with continuous lines and while it’s good to have an idea of what you’d like, I find that a rigid plan can be trickier to execute than letting go and allowing things to flow as you sew.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Free Motion Quilting Design

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design & Planning | Free Motion Quilting Designs

Need Inspiration? Let Your Fabric Guide You!

A great starting point for quilting design is to look at the materials you’re using and to create a pattern that really honours them! Following the lines of a fabric print can be a fantastic way of giving the pattern depth and texture as well as just being an easy template for you to follow. This is a great opportunity to play with stitch density, as you can create different levels and depths in the print with how close your quilting is. By stitching around motifs and even stitching more densely in the negative space, you can really highlight the shapes and make them visually jump off the surface of the fabric!

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Quilting On Patterned FabricsYou don’t have to just trace the exact pattern though, it could just be a rough guide for some free motion stitching or you could create the appearance of a completely new design which uses your lines of stitching in contrast to the lines of the print. Another example of using the fabric as a guide is stitching in the ditch of a patchwork fabric you’ve created to really feature the joins of your pieces. After all, if you’re going to go to the effort of creating a beautiful patchwork piece, you want people to notice!

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Quilting On Patterned FabricsMegan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Quilting Patterned FabricMegan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Quilting On Patterned FabricsMegan Nielsen Patterns | Hovea Sewalong: Quilting Design | Quilting Patterned FabricAnd that’s a wrap on our planning session! I hope you’ve found some inspiration or picked up a few handy tips for your Hovea quilting design and are ready to start making. We’re so excited to see what you create!

Naomi xx


Here’s the full list of Hovea inspiration and ideas:

Here’s the full list of Hovea tutorials & Hacks:

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About Author

Naomi is the Design Assistant here at Megan Nielsen Patterns, and our resident helping hand. She stays busy assisting Meg with pattern development leg work, getting super excited about good instructional diagrams and making green coloured fabric suggestions for every sample we make. She’s a problem solver, a fabric addict, a serial tea-forgetter and a passionate maker.

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