Friday, 24 April 2015

My First Art Quilt!

Who knew it is so difficult to sew in a straight line!
For a long time I've wanted to take my sewing in a more creative direction. I've read a few books, come up with loads of ideas, but they always get way, way too complicated long before I get near the fabric. For this piece, I started with a photo that was way too complicated,

then I did some sketches that failed to simplify it in any way. I really enjoyed the drawing and got a bit absorbed in it, but no closer to a design.

I then went looking for inspiration and I got a nice book Contemporary Quilts Design, Surface and Stitch by Sandra Meech which is laid out in chapters, each featuring a design class. The second chapter gives lots of inspiration for starting a sketch book. One of the suggestions is to use collage papers to try out ideas. The beautiful examples are like works of art in themselves and my first response was this will be a distraction, just as I had been getting absorbed in drawing. It was not though. This primitive piece is not my finest work but was so useful, really made me think about what I wanted to express from the photo in my composition and how it was actually going to work.

For instance I decided from this that I had two layers, the background and foreground leaves. I wanted to make a pieced background with an applique foreground. I also wanted to keep the spiral composition and the distribution of light across the leaves. So I tried to do an improvisatory background quilt-as-you-go spiral for a background experiment

I'm not an experienced quilter and I thought quilt-as-you-go would be an easy technique but it was actually quite fiddly with so much pressing after each seam. This was a good experiment in fabric combinations. I decided to go for a simpler palette, using less fabrics and that applique over this would be too busy. So I came up with my final pieced design.

I paper pieced the corner sections, the rest is just triangle and rectangle combinations. I followed old Craftsy Block of the Month classes for piecing directions. I'm really pleased with it. I found it a challenge to make a non-functional object, had to keep resisting the temptation to make it bigger and make it functional. I love geometric designs but need to work on my piecing, it is hard to get it accurate. I quilted by stitching in the ditch, the design was too busy for much else and I used a dark thread for definition which I was really pleased with. A very long process for such a small item but a very enjoyable new challenge.


  1. Congratulations on completing your first art quilt! It looks great - a modern interpretation of your beautiful photo. And it was very interesting seeing your process as you moved from photo to drawing to paper collage to working with fabrics. I see lots more art quilts in your future!

    1. Thanks for your comment Terry, you will indeed see lots more art quilts in my future!

  2. Congratulations on your finish. I really enjoy seeing your process. Thanks for linking up with me for TGIFF. :-)

    1. Thanks for your comment, and thanks for hosting the link, its great to share finished work