Bring Your Landscape Quilt to Life

pokey boltonWe moved the Quilting Arts offices earlier this spring, and the change has given me a whole new outlookliterally.

View of the landscape outside
our offices.

Whereas my former office didn't have much of a view, this one has windows that look out onto the wooded buffer between the office complex and the street.

Not that I have time to stare out the window, you understand! But I can't help but notice the movement of the critters like robins, chipmunks, and butterflies that flit from one spot to another.

One day, I even had a visit from a rather nosy opossum.

With this wild scenery right outside my office, I find my mind drifting to landscape quilt design. Noticing how the pampas grass bows like the arm of a ballerina or the way a goldfinch's feathers stand out against the spiny, gray-green needles of a pine tree make me want to pull out my fabrics and interpret the landscape in stitch.

Of course, I would want to incorporate screen printing in the design. So I turned to expert quilt designer Judith Trager, who often adds screen-printed motifs to the middle ground of her landscape quilts, after completing the background but before adding the free-motion stitching and fine points.

sunflower landscape quilt
Judith stipple quilts with a variegated
thread in the center of the fussy-cut
motifs to add texture to this landscape quilt.

This silkscreen layer is a fast and simple way to add depth to the design. So is the way Judith uses fussy cut motifs (such as flower heads) from commercial fabrics.

But what really makes Judith's landscapes come to life is the attention to detail.

Here are some of the tips she shares on the Quilting Arts WorkshopTM video "Designing Landscape Quilts: Quilt Art Techniques Simplified."

When stitching over dark shapes, like leaves, use a slightly lighter shade of thread to add definition.

Know which way the sun is shining. When placing your foreground motifs, be sure to position them so that the light source is coming from the same direction on all. For example, sunflowers literally turn toward the sun as the day progresses, so they would all be facing the same way.

Use a variegated thread and stipple quilt the motifs, such as in the center of a flower, to yield a lot of variation in a small area. This will lend realism and depth to your design.

Stipple quilt on the background around the foreground motifs to push the former down and make the latter stand out.

sunflower landscape quilt
The shimmery organza grasses in the foreground
attract light and increase the depth of field.

Attract light and create movement on your piece with a little shimmer. Judith prints squares of gold metallic paint here and there on her quilt using the square end of a makeup sponge. She also fuses slivers of glistening sheer organza, emulating grass, to the foreground.

Judith is a master art quilter, and her simple processes result in eye-popping quilts. If you apply the tips and techniques she shares on "Designing Landscape Quilts," you will be amazed at how you can bring a landscape to life with fabric, thread, and surface design.

I can't wait to use Judith's techniques on my next landscape quilt. But I think I'll leave out the opossum.

P.S. Have you made a landscape quilt? What is your best tip? Share with others in the comments section below.

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5 thoughts on “Bring Your Landscape Quilt to Life

  1. Many of my landscape quilts are based on “visions” that I see in my mediatations or dreams. As a result, my landscapes are filled with a wide range of flowers, from commercial appliques to ones I make from chiffon, silk, and ribbons. There are always beads and buttons to add to create the texture, bith visual and tactile, that I crave.

  2. I like to do several of the same design, maybe of different sizes, so that I can experiment with colors and stitching. Also, when they’re done, I can give or sell one or two and still have one for myself!

  3. My first landscape was the result of a class I took. The method used all straight lines, no curves, yet the look is ’rounded’. My current landscape is using thread scribble lace as applique mountains. I am so excited with the possibilities of this method! I have asked for input on QA’s UFO page, or if you have time, take a peek on my blog!

  4. I work from photos. It really helps to get the perspective and distance/depth of my landscapes. A lot of my work has very long view – where you can see far far into the distance.

    Also, when stitching out the land & fields, the furthest distances have shorter stitches. As I come to the foreground, my stitches become larger. I do this even if I’m making simple horizontal lines.

    ~Monika Kinner-Whalen

  5. My biggest tip is HAVE FUN and actually START the project!! (smile). When I was preparing to “My Office Window” (because mine had none), I read many a blog and tip section on making landscapes, and I stressed myself out over all the things I should do or needed to do. I almosted couldn’t start. I really knew the vision I wanted, so I filed the tips away in my brain, took a deep breath and just made what my HEART wanted. My Office Window is in my gallery. I also have a video showing my basic process. Fun Fun Fun.