Let’s add texture to quilts! One of the most identifiable characteristics of a quilt is its texture. Naturally, the quilting thread creates a textile delight as it bobs and weaves across the quilt top. Traditional quilts are generally two-dimensional in nature, but there are techniques to take your quilt from 2D to 3D! 

Creating texture in quilting can give you the opportunity to highlight different areas of the quilt, bring in new colors, or add an element to the design that is completely unique. Most of these techniques can be used for both traditional quilts and art quilts. Read on for how to add texture to quilts! 

Texture with Quilting 

The most obvious way you are going to create texture with your quilt is through your quilt design. How you choose your quilt design depends on the overall style of your quilt top. A more traditional quilt may call for an ornate flower design while a modern quilt may look stunning with some simple straight-line quilting. You will get a different effect in your quilt relative to the tightness of the design. The tighter the design the stiffer and bumpier your quilt will feel. The more open the design, the more room the fabric has to bend and move. Quilts naturally soften with time and washing, but the quilting will affect how your quilt feels to the touch. 

If you’d like to create a bubble effect on your quilt, consider choosing a design that has circles. Small circles will give it the appearance of bubble wrap as the fabric naturally puffs up between the stitching.

Peacock quilt. Quilted with circles.

Quilting with lofty batting

Another way to show off more texture when quilting is to use batting with more loft (or thickness) like polyester batting. Sometimes I just like to add a second layer of batting as well to really show off the negative space that the quilting leaves. You can add batting just in one spot like a butterfly and quilt around it.  That technique is called trapunto. Or you can add the extra batting all over like I did with my “Dream Big” quilt.

Quilting with texture on a dream big panel.

Quilting with Yarn 

Texture is one of the most fun things about quilting for me. That is one reason I choose couching for so many of my projects. 

Couching is the process of using yarn instead of thread for the top of your quilt. My favorite yarn is Yarnspirations Baby Blanket Yarn. This sturdy yarn quilts well and holds fast to your quilt. It’s such a fun choice for kids’ quilts, baby quilts, holidays quilt, and cuddly lap quilts. This is a great way to add texture on top of a simple quilt top that really elevates the whole design. And I have yet to meet someone who can’t help but touch every inch of a couched quilt. We have so many great resources to learn more about couching. Check them out below. 

You can select couching as an option when you choose us to finish your quilt!

Couched Christmas quilt

Adding Ribbons and Ricrac 

Fabric isn’t the only thing you can add to your quilts. Don’t be afraid to play with different types of ribbons and yarns on your quilt. This is a fun way to play with texture in quilting. Ricrac on a border or tucked into a binding screams cute and chic. Use them as elements of your appliqué projects to make it really stand out. 

If I know that a particular quilt will only be used as a wall hanging, I love adding eyelash yarns and zigzagging the edges as binding. These may take a little more practice, but create a really unique finish to your quilt.

add texture to quilts by using ricrac and ribbons like on this bird quilt.

Combine Types of Fabrics

Another way to add texture to your quilt is by playing with different fabrics. Your quilt does not have to be made of all the same fabrics. You can intermingle types of fabric or choose a different fabric for the back to add texture to your quilt. 

Corduroy is a fabric full of texture. Some tips to remember when piecing with corduroy: 

  • Sew with the nap
  • Iron from the back
  • Pin it! It likes to move. 

add texture to your quilts by using different fabrics like corduroy

Another fun fabric is minky! This velvety soft fabric is a favorite for a cozy backing or incorporated into the top of your quilt. Minky works well as a quilt back or incorporated into the top. Fair warning: it can be messy. Keep a lint roller nearby to keep your other fabrics clean. I’ve never let a messy fabric keep me from adding it to a quilt. It’s usually worth the mess.

Embellishments for Texture

Angelina fibers are an embellishment that was very popular several years ago. Although they are an embellishment, I love the texture they can add to quilts. Since they stick to only themselves when heated they can be made into a sheet of sparkling fibers. From there you can then bend and manipulate them as you see fit. I used them to create this iridescent water in this quilt and then added another color to make the reflection of the moon in the water.

Add texture to your quilts by using angelina fibers and embellishments

Creating Tucks and Bubbles

Another fun way to add texture is tucks. Folding the fabric or taking a tuck can really add great dimension. This can give you petals or leaves that are three-dimensional. My sunflower quilt can be made into a poinsetta or snowflake too. These are best for art quilts or something you will just look at. They don’t wash well. You can however take tucks with your iron and press it onto fusible webbing then it can be washed. These are great for tree trunks or just because you want more interest.

A really unique way to add texture is a technique I call bubbles. You’d never guess that this bunched-up fabric was made with a cooling rack and a pencil. You can see how I do it in my video here

I used it for a sunflower middle, but there are endless possibilities with this. Think fluffy sheep, hills of grass, clouds, or even hair. Because it’s held with fusible interfacing it should wash up well.

Add textures to quilts by creating bubbles and wrinkles

Have Fun Quilting with Texture!

Quilting is really such a unique experience. Every quilt comes out slightly different (even if you use the same patterns!). Adding texture to your quilt is one of the many ways you can continue to create one-of-a-kind creations for everyone to love on. 

Need help?

We would love to help you finish your quilt. Our long-arm services are quick and easy with our online ordering form. We accept quilts from all over the country and hope that we can help you experience the quilt. 

Happy quilting!