How To Make A Quilt Shine With Metal

I'm pretty sure that when most people think about how to make a quilt, "metal" isn't the first thing that pops into their mind. But there are so many ways you can incorporate metal into your quilts and wall hangings, adding texture, dimension, shine, and that element of surprise. 

Here are just a few ideas:


  • Bend metal wire into shapes or images and couch or hand-stitch them onto your quilt to create a design.
  • Add jewels or found objects to your wire shapes to make unique embellishments.
  • Weave wires alone or with fibers and/or beads to create "cloth" that can be bent or shaped.


  • Fabric foils come in a variety of colors and are easily applied with a specially formulated adhesive.
  • Apply adhesive to a rubber stamp with a clear, bold image (not finely etched). Press onto fabric, and apply the foil.
  • Create foil motifs by placing a stencil over the area you wish to foil, applying the adhesive to the fabric through the stencil, and rubbing the foil over the glued area.
  • Use paper-backed fusible webbing to apply foil fast. Cut or tear the web into the desired shape and iron onto the fabric, leaving the top protective paper in place. Remove the paper and press the foil to the fusible web with a hot, dry iron, burnishing with the edge of the iron. 

Screens and mesh:

  • Metal mesh and screening can be printed on, stitched, and embellished to add texture to a quilt.
  • With patina solution, you can change the color of the mesh in interesting, unpredictable ways, adding yet another layer of dimension.

Metal sheeting (craft metal or shim):

  • Emboss metal with engraving tools, rubbing plates, or found textures.
  • Add paint or ink to embossed metal to create even more depth, color, and interest.
  • Stitch through metal to add texture and to apply the metal directly to your fiber art.

Found objects:
Everything from rusty roadside debris to gleaming hardware store finds can be attached to a quilt, providing a unique texture or focal point. 

Incorporating metal into your quilting and fiber art is easy and the ideas are limitless. However, you do have to adhere to some guidelines to make it work. For example, you will need extra support on the back of your quilt if you want to attach heavy pieces of metal. And you should always wear protective glasses and gloves when cutting metal. If you machine stitch metal, use a heavy duty needle and go very slowly.  

We've had several articles demonstrating how to meld metal with fiber in Quilting Arts. But I really learned a lot about working with metal while watching Mary Hettmansperger tape her hour-long Quilting Arts WorkshopTM video, Metal Embellishments: Incorporating Wire, Mesh, Metal Sheeting, & More into Fiber Art, for release this spring. Beryl Taylor demonstrates working metal into fiber art in her Layer By Layer Workshop video and Lyric Kinard shows how to design with foil in her QA Workshop, Surface Design Sampler Platter. But Mary's video is the first Workshop dedicated to metal work on art quilts. 

We shot Mary's video (along with a Quilting Arts Workshop with Jane Dunnewold and a Cloth Paper Scissors Workshop with Susie Monday) while on set taping Season 6 of "Quilting Arts TV."

You can read all about this lively taping–with pictures–on my Editor's blog.

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