How to Add Dimension to Your Quilt Art

A note from Vivika: Stitch Technical Editor Mary Walter has a long history with quilt art including running a quilt shop, teaching classes, and judging contests. Here, she shares one of her own projects that includes art quilting techniques that create dimension.

'My Front Door Quilt' by Mary Walter.

As quilt artist, I have experimented with and enjoyed many dimensional techniques in my creative quilting. One of my favorite endeavors appears as part of My Front Door Quilt. It has raw-edge appliquéd leaves sewn by machine and hydrangeas made of knotted and beaded strips of fabric that were couched to the surface by hand. It took a lot of experimenting to make those hydrangeas.

For this landscape quilt, I finally settled on knotting two thin strips of contrasting hand-dyed fabrics into close knobby knots. Once my strands of knotted strips were made, I freeform couched them to the surface of the quiltadding peach and pearly seed beads randomly onto my thread for added color and texture. The beading was much more subtle than I wanted after the whole strip was couched, so I plan to revisit that idea in the future.

When considering dimensional elements in quilting design, hand quilting itself adds a low-relief texture. The creative byproduct of hand quilting is up to the quilter. It could be a contrasting thread color, a circle of feathers, or a multi-cable border design. The possibilities can be expanded to add even more dimensions to your quilting.

Detail of the hydrangeas.

Consider the familiar Yo-Yo quilt and Cathedral Window patterns which have migrated into contemporary quilting. The fabrics and art quilt patterns may be updated, but the ideas have their roots in tradition. Appliqué is also pushing the traditional boundaries in adding dimension to art quilting. Today, raw-edge applique is often used to add an interesting design statement to a quilt.

I recommend experimenting with different ideas to find techniques that appeal to you whether traditional or contemporary.

For more great ideas, check out Exploring Dimensional Quilt Art by C. June Barnes, who has elevated the traditional quilts by transforming them into organic, three-dimensional shapes.

What dimensional techniques are you using in your quilted art? Let us know in the comments section below.

Happy Quilting!


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One thought on “How to Add Dimension to Your Quilt Art

  1. I’m working on a landscape/portrait quilt right now that I’m trying to add a lot of texture to. I’m adding leaves to the trees with little drops of glue, pinching and squishing the leaves as I apply them. Then I’ll be adding thread-painted branches and twigs, and perhaps some more leaves. On the leaf-covered ground, I’ve layered 2 fabrics and went at it with my seam ripper to reveal the bottom fabric, frayed it with a brush, and will be free-motion quilting/thread painting to finish it.
    Here’s a photo album of some of my progress so far: