How to Make a Twilling Quilt


Twilling is the art of adding embroidery to the surface of a quilt top, creating texture and a tactile embellishment beyond the quilting stitches. Reminiscent of candlewicking, twilling is accomplished with a few easy embroidery stitches and heavy pearl-cotton thread, which produces a pronounced line of stitches. In the past, twilling was done in a white-on-white or tone-on-tone application. Today, however, a great range of color is used in twilling patterns.

Things You'll Need

  • Quilting fabric
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Fusible interfacing
  • Iron
  • Quilter's pencil
  • Light table (optional)
  • #5 pearl cotton
  • Embroidery floss
  • Needle and thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Safety pins
  • Binding
  • Cut a square of quilting fabric to the size you desire for your block. For a bed quilt, nine-inch squares and above are recommended. For ease of handling, twilling is most frequently done one block at a time. The blocks are then sewn together to form a quilt top.

  • Apply fusible interfacing to the back of the block, using an iron. This will stabilize the fabric prior to embroidering. Sketch an embroidery design on the face of the block with a water-soluble quilter's pencil, using a light table, if needed.

  • Thread a needle with #5 pearl cotton. Using a combination of whipped backstitches, stem stitches and outline stitches, embroider the basic design with the heavy cotton thread. Finer lines are stitched using only a couple strands of embroidery floss.

  • Arrange the twilled blocks into a pattern and sew them together. Lay the quilt-backing fabric on a table or the floor, right-side down. Lay quilt batting on top, then add the quilt top, right-side up. Baste or safety-pin the three layers together.

  • Add quilting stitches to the overall pattern. Outline the twilling with a quilting stitch, or add embellishments between the twilled designs. Remove the basting stitches or the safety pins as you quilt the three layers together. Finish by adding binding to the edges of the quilt.

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