Two of my favorite hobbies are sewing and gardening. Almost 20 years ago, I was introduced to landscape quilting techniques by Natalie Sewell, nationally known landscape quilt artist. Natalie and I became best friends and scheduled two or three quilting dates each year. During the three-part Sewing With Nancy series, Beginning Landscape Quilting, we simplify the process so that everyone interested can enjoy the pleasure of creating outdoor scenes in fabric.
- A photo was used as the inspiration for the design. Obviously, I did not interpret the design literally—it’s used as a guideline.
- The hand-dyed background fabric sets the mood for the scene—a sunny autumn day. The leaf and tree fabric choices seem to echo the colors playing across the canvas.
- Work on a design wall. For me it’s a layer of flannel and Quilted Iron Quick sewn like a large pillow (without the pillow form) and a casing added at the top, through which I insert a curtain rod. This design wall is portable, although I keep mine hung year ’round.
- Three brown trees, one fat and two skinny, are the first elements in the quilt. I roughly cut out the trees and glued them to the background fabric with a paper glue stick. No worries, the glue dries fast and clear and will not gum up your sewing machine.
- Add texture to the trees by cutting strips of the remaining two bark fabrics and gluing them to the tree trunks. One of the fabrics had a splendid knothole, which I cut out and glued to the fattest tree. After deciding that the light came from the left, I shaded all three trees on the right with a black marking pen.
- Next, I added dark branches to all three trees by cutting skinny strips of my darkest fabric.
- I began the slow but satisfying process of adding leaves, carefully cut from the large leaf fabric depicted in the photo.
- After adding many more leaves (mostly red but a few green) I messy cut the two ground cover fabrics, using both their right and wrong sides. To enhance the fall mood, I “diced” up a few of the red and gold leaves with my favorite scissors and sprinkled them on the ground cover. Notice how few leaves it takes to convey a wooded scene in fabric compared with the thousands a photograph would depict.
- The design process continues after adding borders. A few leaves and branches in the border lend drama to the design.
Overview of the finishing steps
The landscape quilting bends many quilting rules. Messy cutting, fussy cutting, basting with a paper glue stick, and using the other right side of the fabric as well as the traditional right side are just a few of the ways that Natalie and I show you how to be creative with fabric.
After designing, tried ‘n true quilting techniques take over. The raw edges are basted down using free-motion techniques with clear thread in the needle, the quilt is squared, borders can be added, batting and backing are layered and then are stippled.
For more design ideas, watch Beginning Landscape Quilting (Part One, Part Two and Part Three) on Sewing With Nancy online.
Now that you’ve seen how easy it is to dive into landscape quilting, which season would you most like to capture in landscape quilt imagery? Leave your answer in the comment section below to be considered for a copy of Beginning Landscape Quilting. One winner will be randomly selected.
Bye for now,