Simple landscape scenes can be elegant and moving, not just easy to create. Natalie Sewell, my landscape quilting mentor and buddy, and I find that a design doesn’t have to be intricate or complicated to be stunning. Here’s a quilting tutorial on how I created the scene, Wolf River Woods. The following instructions were first featured in The Art of Landscape Quilting.
My Favorite Quilt—Well, at least one of them!
I was inspired to write this blog posting after reading the Sew Mama Sew “My Favorite Quilt” series. Check out the postings from other quilters.
How to make a landscape quilt
- 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.
- Texture was added 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 detailed finishing steps, reference our book, The Art of Landscape Quilting.
Watch how to Landscape Quilt Online
For a chance to win a copy of Landscape Quilting Workshop workbook, tell us the subject of your first or next landscape quilt.
Bye for now,