So, I've decided how I'm going to do the rest of the quilting for Maren's quilt. She's a Gemini, so I'm going to quilt a large Gemini symbol on either side of each of the five flags. Here's the first one:
I don't believe in any of that astrology malarkey, but it's a rich vein of symbolism and personalization! I found this script-like version of the symbol, which has a pleasing appearance. So I blew it up to ten inches tall (the same size as the flags) and printed it out. To make it more pliable and fabric-like, I thoroughly crumpled up the paper. I learned that trick in art class in elementary school!
To use it for quilting, I just pin it in place.
With a design this curvy and continuous, there's really no way to avoid having to turn the quilt every which way to maintain the right-to-left sewing direction. But in order to minimize stopping & starting threads, I have a strategy to sew each symbol using just one length.
I start a long thread at one corner, with half on each side of the starting point (that's the stage the photo above is at). With the first half, I sew around one "edge" of the design - going around the outside of the outer loops, and the inside of the rectangular section. For the parts in the interior of the design, I skip under the quilt top.
With the second half, I do the other "edge" - the insides of the outer loops, and the outsides of the rectangular section. Notice I haven't cut out the holes for the insides of the outer loops. I just eyeball those when I sew them, since they're pretty small and easy to line up once the first half is already quilted.
The hardest part of this process is getting the template pinned to the right place, so that it's lined up vertically with the flag and horizontally with the existing quilted symbols.