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Portrait Quilt, how much is too much quilting?

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Hello fellow quilters. I just wanted to pick your brains regarding a portrait quilt I have been given to work on. My dilemma is this: how much quilting should I do in the face area? I have seen pics on Pinterest and Im not sure I like them as the stitching seems to become a separate art in itself. I don't want to outdo my clients work....any suggestions?

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On a picture quilt with numerous pictures, I would suggest quilting minimally in the pictures so the batting does not come apart in the sandwich, and to not quilt over faces if possible.  Quilt more heavily in the borders or area around the pictures.

As it is a portrait quilt, presumably one large picture where the sandwich must be stabilized, I would suggest using invisible thread.  Matching the fabric/picture color with the thread may be a better option depending on the portrait and area in the portrait.  

Start stabilizing the portrait as a whole.  You probably can quilt more in the individuals hair without it being as visible.  Then you can try quilting in the areas of light to dark on the face, shadows in the face around eyes and eye brows.  Start with a little quilting as possible.  Step on a ladder and decide how the overall image looks.  It is easier to add quilting then to remove it.  Take a picture and ask what the customer thinks/wants.  It may be a quilt that you have to remove from the rollers and hang on the wall a few times before it is finished.  I am a sit-down quilter, so this is easier for me.

In the end it is going to come down what the maximum allowed distance between quilt lines per the batting manufacturer's specifications and what you/the customer think looks best.  

Here are some examples with tight quilt lines and some with whole areas open;





You can also search for thread painting which might expand your examples.  As you are painting with thread, it is an art.

I am sure it will turn out great when you are finished.  Please share your masterpiece when you are done, so we can enjoy your work, and learn from it.  As it is a portrait of a customer, maybe just an eye or part of the face so their anonymity is preserved if they do not want the entire quilt top shared.


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Thank you for your reply and great advice. I was contemplating minimal echo quilting using invisible thread in the facial area, as per the 80/20 requirements. I think I would be quilting it differently if it were my own, as in a lot of heavy quilting. Where it is not my quilt I feel differently about it. Apprehensive is the word. I have quilted Unstrung Hero by Man Sewing. It is a similar piece. I also did echo, SID and background quilting. Turned out perfect. This is more of a portrait art quilt that I have never done before. A little out of my comfort zone. I will give it a go and give updates. Thanks again for the great advice!


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