How to Make An Art Quilt

First, it helps to have a talented sister.  My sister Karen is a wonderful photographer and she was kind enough to share some of her photographs with me.  I loved this one of sunflowers and thought I could reproduce it in fabric.

The first thing to do is print out a colored copy of the desired picture in the exact dimensions you want the finished piece to be.  Then you need to find fabrics that best match what you are trying to reproduce.  It is important to remember the shadows and highlights when you are considering your choices.  I have a very large scrap collection that I draw from, but sometimes it is necessary to visit the fabric store for that perfect match.  (And when I go, I make sure to bring the print with me).    On the back of these fabric pieces I iron on Heat-n-Bond Lite (an iron on adhesive). This also provides a great of deal stability when you cut out your shapes.

The next step is to cut out the main shape of your image.  Make sure to include every detail.  Then peel the backing off of the fabric and iron it down onto a background.  Oh, I forgot!  It helps to have a very stable background  for your quilted art.  I use a fusible medium to heavy weight interfacing  on which I iron some background fabric.  Next cut out and iron down your highlights.  Do the same for the lowlights.  I keep a second copy of the original photograph as a reference for where to place these pieces.  You will need to repeat this process for all the main images of your piece.

Eventually, all this cutting, piecing and ironing will result in an image like this.  It is pretty, but a bit flat without the stitching.

Now, to quote Ned Nederlander “…sew like the wind!”  Adding stitches brings so much life to the piece.  For the flower petals alone I probably used six different shades of yellow thread.  By using so many different layers of color, you will find it easy to accurately highlight and lowlight the details. The variation of color in these fine details is what brings it all together in the end.



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 Art Quilts
3 comments on “How to Make An Art Quilt
  1. You have incredible amount of patience to do this. Lovely work. Really pretty.

  2. Karen says:

    So beautiful. You showed absolute talent in the beginning, but you just keep getting better and better! (Maybe I’m just biased about picture? 😉 ). Feels good to follow your passion, right?! You are gifted. xo 🙂

  3. The original photograph is awesome and made the final product that much easier to create so I must give at least half the credit to you! 🙂

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