One of the most fun I have when making a pictorial quilt is making trees, mountains, rocks and water scenes. Making these wonderful natural landscape items do not require perfect lines and matched points. So each kind and size of trees I need to “grow” on a quilt may require a different technique and plan. I have to consider the distance, the species, where the light is coming from, and then decide how to make them. Here are a few examples:
Here the trees surround the house. For these trees, I digitized them on my Bernina Software (even the tiny trees have little leaf shaped leaves, though I think that is lost a bit to the viewer because of the size). I then stitched them out on black nylon veiling with wash-away stabilizer and free motion appliqued them onto the quilt top with matching thread.
This small tree is the stitch out from an olive tree I digitized in my Bernina software on wash-away stabilizer. I placed a tree photo in the art side and traced it by hand digitizing it in the embroidery side of the software. The same could be done by drawing it onto a piece of wash-away stabilizer with Crayola washable marker and free motion embroidering it. In this case I would advise using a layer of black nylon veiling to hold everything together. The advantage of black nylon veiling is that it can be cut very close to the embroidery (without cutting through the stitching) and the little bits left tend to disappear when you applique it on…often covered with applique stitching. Note that when you soak away the stabilizer, the Crayola marker goes away also. This happens to be laying on a paper towel, in case you are wondering.
Here you see the trunks of some big Cyprus trees in my current ongoing project. I cut the applique shape from different types of commercial woody type fabrics. So then I did highlighting and lowlighting with Shiva oil paint sticks and a stiff brush, then heat setting with my iron (covering it with a paper towel to absorb excess oil paint. I plan on adding a layer of wool batting behind the trees to give them a little more depth because the trees require considerable stitching to make the base look like the Cyprus, but this is how I started these trees.
So the Cyprus trees appear to have windy limbs that seem smaller than such a massive tree trunk would have. I decided to couch the limbs on with wool yarns and then free motion embroider the Spanish moss. Here are two pictures of the progress so far:
Here you see some of the limbs on the different trees with some Spanish moss. I did a lot of looking at Spanish moss photos before I did these so I could figure how they should look. These seem to me to be coming out ok.
I learned early on that I needed to draw some guide lines for the direction of the stitching or I’d get them to be blowing around in different directions. Since the water in this quilt is going to look calm and reflective, it didn’t make since to have the Spanish moss blowing around much, though they don’t have to be exactly the same, but close. Here you see some of my marks for future stitching. Also note that I had to break the stitching on several clumps so it looked like the limb is further toward the back from the viewer. I need to keep it pretty close to the same proportions as the top part, so drawing lines is helpful.
Sew I’ll show you the whole trees when they are done. That will be a while now because they need to be quilted, and maybe a little more highlighting, to get the full impression.
Sew happy everyone. I hope you decide to put some trees on your quilts and relax…they are fun to make.