“Painting” with fabric and Dawn

I met Dawn a couple years ago through our mutual friend Barbara. On meeting we decided that we had to get together and schedule a play date. This week Dawn and I finally got together.

Dawn attended a class through the local quilt guild taught by Tawni Young from InterQuilten where they created art quilts by painting with fabric. When I saw her piece, I asked if she’d show me that technique. So when she called to plan a date, that’s what we decided to do.

Before we get started I have to tell you Dawn’s Inspiration Room (Her son Dalton named it.) is wonderful. I saw this room when it was just being built and it has turned out great. Here are just two shots showing the windows on each end of the room.

Dawnsstudio1 dawnsstudio2It’s so organized and so inviting. I am so jealous!!

But let’s get back to the project. We started by selecting a picture. She told me to pick one that didn’t have straight lines. Well, I think I really picked one that was way too hard. This is one of the pictures I took on our recent trip to Garden of the Gods.


Then we went through our stash and started cutting our fabrics in teeny, tiny pieces with the rotary cutter.  Here Dawn is showing me how.

dawndemoingcuttingHere are a couple of my fabrics. You can see that it doesn’t matter if the fabric has prints on it. However, it needs to be fabric that is dyed all of the way through like my dyed fabric or batiks. Otherwise, your pieces will be two colors which might not work for your project.

fabriccutup1 fabriccutup2And then my palette of colors. Aren’t they yummy?

colorpaletteatdawnsYou start by laying your backing fabric down, add the batting, and then start adding the fabric bits. Here I am just starting on the sky.

landscapefabricpaint1After your picture is finished, cover it with tulle – we used black – and pin down.


Here is my piece pinned. It needs to be pinned all over to keep all of those pieces from moving around.

pinnedprojectNow to free motion this mess down! Here is Dawn working on her piece. She recommended sewing with invisible thread and bobbin thread in the bobbin. I could have watched her free motion all day. There is something soothing about watching free motion. Now to get it to feel like that when I do it!

DawnfreemotionI brought my project home to finish. Here it mine after free motion quilting and trimmed. The colors are way off due to shooting this at night in my studio. The more accurate colors are on the finished photo.


I decided to finish by serging the edges.


Well, it was not real easy. Dawn said I picked a hard picture and the next one should be easier. Here are some of my tips if you want to try this technique.

  1. Pick a picture with no  hard edges. However, if you “paint” trees you can use a strip of fabric for the trunk. On the right you might be able to see that I used a couple small strips of fabric to illustrate the trunk.
  2. Decide on your colors and rotary cut your bits all at once. I had to go back and cut more which slowed down my momentum.
  3. Don’t pile up the fabric bits. I was having so much fun that I added way too many bits. Those areas were real hard to quilt.
  4. Before you begin, decide how you want to bind it.
  5. Let go of perfection and just have fun.

One of the big problems is keeping all of the bits from going everywhere. This may have been a problem for me because as I mentioned in the tips that I put way too many bits on my piece. I think that once the pieces are down they could be sprayed with something to hold them in place even before covering with tulle. Another option might be to place fusible on top of the batting and then after the bits are placed, iron over before adding tulle. Even when pinning you have to be so careful that they don’t move all around.

I’ll definitely do this again. It was fun, but I had to let go of perfection. I have to remember that this is not suppose to be a photo. It’s my interpretation of the photo. But that said, I still would like it to look like the picture!!

I’d love to hear your feedback on the technique. If you have done this, did you have problems with bits moving before you sewed them down. Any suggestions?

It was such a fun day. In addition to creating, Dawn had coffee and pumpkin scones ready for me when I arrived. She also fixed a lovely lunch of potato soup, beer bread, and spinach salad. Yum! Can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of Dawn. Well, I’m sure you’ll get to see her here soon.

When I got home, I dropped my bag with my supplies on the floor. The project in progress was safely carried to my sewing machine. Puddin wasted no time settling in the bag.