It makes complete sense that the loft of the batting used in a quilt will directly relate to the relief of the quilting designs. But what other factors contribute to the “puff”?
The size of the motifs. Bigger motifs will produce more relief. Can you see how the smaller feathers in the wreath below are not quite as puffy looking as the larger ones?
The background quilting in Ferret’s Seneca, below, is quite varied in design. However, since the majority of the motifs are similar in size, and curved, most of the areas do not read as having more dimension than the others. The feathers on the left side are the most obviously more full, and this is a result of the feathers being less dense.
The overall density of the quilting also impacts the loft of the piece. A quilt that is very evenly quilted in an all over design will have dimension, but the eveness of the quilting provides less contrast. Judy Coates Perez’s lovely Crepuscular Flash, shown below, is quilted quite evenly over the entire surface. Small variations in the width and curvature of the lines add interest, but only slight more puffiness.
The contrast between the motifs and background fills. I discussed this a little bit in this post, and it’s also evident in Diane Loomis’ Five Bar Blues shown above. Offsetting motifs with areas of quilting with greater density will make the motifs come forward. Margaret Solomon Gunn’s sample, below, shows the extra dimension created by both wider channels and the contrast of more densely quilted areas with open areas.
Another factor to consider is the method of basting. Pin basting, thread basting, spray basting, and water soluble fusible basting will produce a more puffy end product than a quilt that is fuse basted to both the batting and backing. Adding extra batting, either through the use of trapunto or an extra layer of high loft batting over a less dense batting will certainly impact the loft.
Different styles of quilting, and the resultant loft, are a matter of personal preference, so go ahead and combine these different factors to create the look that most appeals to you!