I don’t know why, but recently I realized my design and making of a pictorial quilt has fallen into a multi-step method that can be shared with my readers. I suspect that most pictorial quilters work much the same, but each of us develops our own methodology and here is mine. It might work for you if you are interested in making such quilts.
Sew what do you do when you have a picture you want to make into a quilt…either you drew it yourself, you took a photo, you bought or were gifted the rights from another artist, or you bought a royalty free design from somewhere like Dover that grants permission to use it for artistic purposes (be careful to read the permision statement)?
Plan by taking apart the project in your mind and writing down notes about how you plan to approach it. If you have worked in digital drawing programs like Corel Draw, Corel Painter, or Adobe Photoshop, for instance, you know you can divide a project into layers and work on each layer one at a time. You may also know that you need to think from background to foreground in how you approach a design. It’s the same here.
- Print or draw a full-sized quilt plan. I say “plan” rather than “pattern” because sometimes that’s all it is…just a full sized picture of what you want to make. But it functions kind of like a pattern. My current project is a Bayou quilt using another artist’s (Joel Christopher Payne, a Disney artist among other things he does) picture for inspiration (though I am using it for inspiration and a guide rather than trying to copy his work).
- Study your picture and analyze it for challenges, needed fabrics, techniques you might use. This quilt has many challenges.
- It’s dark and details are hard to see
- It has lots of old wood and cyprus trees and water at night, making texture really important and values more difficult.
- I am planning on adding more Spanish moss and creating a slightly lighter pictorial quilt than his wonderful picture
- It has a lot of plays of light shining through the trees, playing out on the water, and fireflies.
- There are lots of water plants around the Bayou scene.
- Almost half of the work on this quilt is to be free motion yarn couching, free motion embroidery, and other embellishment work.
- This quilt background will start with extensive applique work.
- After the applique there will be a small amount of highlighting and lowlighting with various fabric paints.
- After the appliques are in place and some of the paint work then I will start with the couching and free motion embroidery work.
- I have figured out how to deal with the light playing on the water, but I am still not sure about the light coming through the trees…maybe veiling, which is on order.
- Along the way you may decide to use some trapunto to give some additional depth to your work. In this case, I will be adding a layer of wool batting behind the tree trunks, the cabin, and the old house boat.
- Building such a challenging pictorial quilt for me sometimes involves testing a technique on a scrap first and then working that part on the quilt, but sometimes I have to change my mind on how I will approach a particular part of the quilt.
- Then I have to do the sandwiching, squaring, and quilting that every quilter has to do.
So I now have all the appliques on and have done some of the highlight/lowlight work. It’s ready to start the couching and free motion embroidery. This picture is taken from standing over a table, so it isn’t front on like I’d like. This is like layer two through ten of a 32 layer digital drawing…lots of work left to do…it’s kind of a background at this stage. LOL And besides, this is just a small part of it…it’s 60 by 30 inches overall…at least that’s what I’m hoping for in the end.
Sew happy everyone! Take a plunge and try your own pictorial wall quilt. Be patient with yourself and realize almost every problem can be overcome in achieving your vision. Sometimes the problems are really a blessing…they give you new ideas.