As I worked on a quilt called Kansas, the piece I wrote about here, I decided it really needed a river meandering through the fields with oxbows and other curvy features.
To create the river of my imagination, I laid a long, thin strip of tracing paper over the approximate center third of my top, and drew a curving line on it. Then, I cut along the line, put down the paper where I wanted my river to flow, and marked the line on the quilt with a blue, water erasable pen after I fused all the quilt layers together. Yes, I use fusible batting, Hobbs 80/20 fusible.
I ended up stitching over that line eight times with different blue-green thread, and even did bobbin stitching to emphasize the line. When it still didn’t stand out enough for me, I pulled out my paintstiks and a stencil brush, and got really emphatic.
The rest of the walking foot quilting is either straight lines to emulate plowed fields or curvy lines to follow the river. If you imagine the view from a plane flying over Kansas I think you might come up with something like this.