I find the most difficult piece to determine a quilt plan for is the applique quilt. First of all, I've never been good at the outline stitch that everyone thinks must surround each and every applique piece. Actually, very few quilters are good at it. In my humble opinion, you should never see this stitch. You should only see the effect of this stitch. That is, the outline stitch should cause the applique piece to appear to rise up and sit atop the quilt.
Too often I see quilts where the outline stitch has occasionally crept up onto the applique fabric. This is not a good look, and if it were me, I would have to stop, pick it out and stitch it again. Wow, that's not your average picking job either, because the stitches are usually very tiny.
So, I always suggest filling the background with a dense fill that comes up close to the applique pieces instead of outlining. But, what kind of dense fill? McTavishing (with it's many variations) is an awesome choice. You can sweep it's many tendrils into the space between the applique for a very good look.
But, what else will work? Let's look at a few other fills.
This continuous curl works well on this House and Fruit Tree quilt, don't you think? The background areas are not too tight to fit the curls in. However, some applique quilts have very tiny background spaces, and this might not work for them.
If you look at this design closely, you will see the secret to it. It is not just one curl after another, that would look too static. Instead, it curls off in one direction, backtracks and then goes off in another direction. That keeps the design dancing!
Perfect backtracking is not necessary for this design, and that actually adds to the happiness of its design.
This is the clam shell version of McTavishing. It worked very well to get into tiny little spaces.
Of course, pebbles can do a good job filling areas and I like it with the stipple to set a space apart.
This is called Swirl Doodle Fill (I think it was designed by Karen Marchetti...?) and I love it! The soft S shapes can fill in the teeniest spaces. And, it is fairly quick to do. So, go out there and try a new fill pattern!!!
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”