How to Quilt A Home From a Photograph (Church St. House)

Finally, a project I am sewing right now!  I made Elizabeth’s Halloween costume last weekend but was too frustrated with the pattern to blog about it.  This, however, has been a lot of fun and even though I am still in the middle of it, I thought I’d start blogging.  I have been making quilted wall hangings of homes for about a year and a half now.  It all began with a Christmas gift for my neighbor.  I recreated my view of her barn in fabric form and had it framed for her wall.  She really enjoyed it and asked me to make one of a friend’s house later that year.  After I completed that one I thought ‘Hey, I can do this!’  I went to craft shows (no real success there, but I sold a lot of turkey pins – a story for another time) and made several for charity auctions (better luck there).  But mostly it has been word of mouth that has driven my business.

In the spring I got a call from a lady in my town who was interested in having her home “quilted” for her husband’s birthday (this October).  She asked me to photograph her home while her trees were in bloom and left the details to me.  After experimenting with several angles, I settled on a full on front view.  

Next comes one of my favorite parts — picking out the fabric that best represents the home.  I have saved scraps from all my projects and can remember where every piece has come from (almost!)   When I decided to start this business, one of the first things I did was organize my fabric.  A pain, but worth it. 

The next step is to digitally blow up the picture to about an 11X14 size.  Once it is printed, I start cutting out the features of the home, starting from the largest shape.  I basically deconstruct the picture in order to put it back together like a layered jigsaw puzzle.  The backing I use is a stiff craft backing which maintains its rigid shape no matter how much I manipulate it.  I then iron a product called Heat-n-Bond to the backs of the fabrics I have chosen.  This allows me to cut out any shape I want from the fabric and iron it onto my backing.  I can also sew over this product and not have to seal any edges.  With the fabric backed, and my ‘sky’ and ‘lawn’ fabric in place, I start the piecing process.

Here you can see the house beginning to take shape.  With the larger pieces completed, I focus my attention on the details;  windows, gables, shutters, corbels — you name it, I detail it.  I cut out each individual piece from the photo, trace and cut it from the fabric, then piece it onto the fabric house and stitch it into place.  I put curtains in the windows and add bushes/flowers in their exact shape and placement onto the front lawn.  Some homes are hidden behind trees.  If I get enough detailed photos, I can remove the trees, or shrink them down, so more of the home can be seen.  On this home the owner would like me to highlight the flowering trees she and her husband planted all those years ago.  I still have quite a bit of stitching detail work to do, including adding those trees.  I’ll be sure to post the final product, as well as the photo that inspired the quilt.

On a final note, I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to share how I create these wall hangings.  For almost as long as I have been making them, I have struggled with what to name my creations.  I didn’t think of it as “quilted” because it involves very little hand work, and it is not totally applique, which is a process of sewing one piece of fabric onto another.  But then  I read a book on modern quilting and the author described quilting as the art of piecing fabrics to one another.  So naming my business “Quilted Home Impressions” is totally appropriate.  Besides, my husband thought of the name and I think he’s pretty bright – for a Marine.

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I have always loved the process of transforming pieces of fabric into quilts. For years I collected scraps, just to be sure I'd have the right piece for the project at hand. Eventually, as my skills progressed, my hobby grew into art. I moved from simple quits, to 'landscape quilting' and then eventually onto portrait work. I am new to the art field and am self-taught, learning from my mistakes as well as from my successes. I create my images using only fabric and thread. I remain true to this limitation for two reasons; first, I love the challenge of finding new ways to depict ever more challenging subjects. Second, fabric work remains my true love. I enjoy the hunt for fabrics; where other artists might blend oil paints, I love finding that perfect shade or pattern for a specific need. I refer to my style as "gestalt impressionism" for one needs to take a step back from my pieces to get the whole picture. My view point changes by what is influencing me at the time. Recently I've begun to focus on the journey of the individual. I enjoy working on portraits of people whom I feel have lead interesting lives.

Posted in Sewing
6 comments on “How to Quilt A Home From a Photograph (Church St. House)
  1. Terry Mahoney says:

    Mary left out all the parts where the $##@)@ needles break, the dogs step on everything, the kids keep interrupting her, or whatever else.

    She is building herself a sewing room where the back porch used to be, so sewing might get easier for her soon. As soon she finishes the construction, that is.

    My wife is multi-talented!

  2. Julie Weaver says:

    Don’t knock the turkey pins! I didn’t get one because they were all sold out! Turkey pins rock in Carroll County, MD.

  3. joyce says:

    Nice wall hanging. I’d like to live in a cute little house like that!! Good luck with the business.

    • Mary says:

      You are the first non-family or friend to post on my blog and I am so excited! I read your blog from this morning and was exhausted by all you accomplished before work today 🙂 I had to go to my job and couldn’t read more, but plan to catch up with what else you are up to later this evening.

      Thanks for the encouragement (both from your well wishes and your example!)

  4. Dori Batavick says:

    Mary
    We are looking forward to having you be a part of New Windsor’s Day in the Garden!
    Dori

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