Joanne Sharpe’s Tips for “Paint to Stitch” Art Quilts

There is so much variety when talking about art quilts. They can be fused, painted, or collaged. They can depict something specific like a person, pet, or place; or they can be completely nonrepresentational.

Art quilt by Joanne Sharpe
One of Joanne’s “paint to stitch” art quilts

Really, there are no rules when it comes to art quilting. For many artists the freedom to create is a must, but personally, I think it can be a little overwhelming. I work best if I can exercise creativity within boundaries which is why I love Joanne Sharpe’s “paint to stitch” technique for art quilts. The process is just what I need to allow my creativity to flow and flourish.

Joanne starts with a plain muslin fabric that she’s turned into a quilt sandwich approximately 14″ square. Next she adds color to the quilt sandwich using dye paints. Once the dye is dry she can add machine and hand stitching.

If you’re intrigued by this process and want to take Joanne’s “paint to stitch” technique out for a test drive, you’ll want to take a peek at her helpful hints before you get started.

  • Paint on a quilt sandwich allowing the paint or dye to seep into the batting–unless you’re very heavy-handed with the paint, the batting will act as protection for your work surface.
  • Using very loose and uninhibited paint brush strokes, make shapes; you are creating simple and abstract imagery that can be embellished with free-motion machine stitching in a later step.
  • Do not fret over the end result or overthink the outcome. Let yourself go and focus on the experience and motion of the creative process–just express your creativity on fabric. Sometimes the greatest epiphanies come from the most spontaneous efforts.
  • When using acrylic or fabric paints, use a stiff paintbrush designated for that type of paint. A softer, watercolor paintbrush can be used for dye paints. Make sure your paints and dyes are completely dry before sewing.
  • Create piles of these fabric color studies, and have them ready to embellish with hand or machine stitching on a whim. Showcase your painted imagery with free-motion stitching that makes the art “pop” off the fabric.

Watch this art quilting technique in action when Joanne joins host Susan Brubaker Knapp on Quilting Arts TV Series 1800.

If you can’t wait to get started, check out the Quilting Arts TV Series 1800 Bonus Collection. The collection includes a video download of the series along with the companion eBook, Creative Quilting Projects and How-tos for Quilting Arts TV Series 1800.

You won’t want to miss out on new techniques, expert tips, and inspiration galore!

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