Monday, September 17, 2012

Adding Texture in the Foreground

Seymour is almost completely finished; just a few final touches and I'm declaring him done!  I've been working on the foreground the last couple of days and thought I'd share a few things I've added to the quilt since they use a couple of different techniques to add some texture.

Barrel Cacti

This is the easiest one of all; for the cactus I sketched out the size of barrel cacti I wanted (interestingly in pencil sketches they look almost indistinguishable from stem-less pumpkins), then cut them out of green fusible-backed fabric.  I drew the ribs with my white erasable marking pencil, and then shaded each alternating rib with my trusty beige Shiva paintstick.  I fused the cacti down and thread painted/FMQed the rest.  I used 4 different thread colors on the big cactus and two on the little cactus to try to give a semblance of dimension.

Sagebrush Bush

For the trunk/woody part of my sagebrush, I used fusible-backed brown fabrics and some jute/twine I had leftover from a macrame project.  I left some of the twine pieces intact, and separated others into fibers.  Before proceeding with the bushy part, I FMQed down the stems/twine.  I wanted to try using wool roving for the leafy portion of my bush since I like its fuzzy feel.  I'd never worked with roving before; I think it's mostly used for felting.  I picked up a couple of hand-dyed sample packs at MQS this year and was anxious to try it.  It feels and looks like a slightly denser cotton ball material; I just pulled off bits of different colors and spread them out over the surface of the quilt.  The next part was a bit of a disaster.  I first tried just quilting down the fibers but they kept getting all wrapped up and tangled in my foot.  Then I tried covering a section with parchment paper and quilting over it; that made the quilting go easily but it was impossible to get the paper off without pulling up all the fibers.  I actually had to rip out all that quilting.  I finally wound up covering most of the bush with small pieces of tulle.  They didn't quilt down particularly flat, but the bumpy bits combined with the places where the roving isn't covered give very nice bushy texture.  Anyone else have experience trying to quilt down roving?


The stems of the fern are made out of ribbon and the leaves of the fern are made out of used dryer sheets.  My mom got that tip in a class from the wonderful Betty Busby, and I've been anxious to try it out ever since then.  I dyed the ferns using acrylic craft paint, basically just mushing them up in my hand with paint (it turned my hands green- use rubber gloves if you have some) and then spreading them out to dry.  I shook a little green glitter on a couple of them.  After they were dry I ironed them, cut out my fern shapes, and tacked them to the quilt with a bit of gluestick.  I quilted down the middle of the ribbon stem and each leaf.   Finally, I snipped along both sides of each leaf and then kind of rumpled them so they'd stand out a bit from the quilt.

Grass and Pebbles

The "grass" is just a few randomly fused down green or brown pieces which have been quilted over.  I think they add visual interest though since the rest of the pieces are primarily horizontal.  The "pebbles" are a few random quartz beads I sewed down.  I originally grabbed them thinking they'd make nice teeth but decided to use them for some more texture in the foreground instead.

Final pics coming soon!


  1. Very clever use of different materials. Especially the dryer sheet; I'd have never thought of that!

  2. Wow. I have always wondered how to make the texture I see in art quilts. I can't wait to see the whole thing!

  3. I love this- I found you over on Sew Happy Geek- I linked up a pictorial art quilt too! Will stay tuned for final pics.

  4. this looks amazing! such creative use of textures and stitches...I look forward to seeing the finished piece! Very inspiring! Lisa (aka Dotty Bird...found you via sewhappy geek).

  5. Thanks so much guys for all the kind comments! Final pictures to come soon I hope!

  6. Oh my gosh. I had no idea how much more you were going to do after i saw it. I love the cactus. It looks like if i touch it i will get pricked. Really amazing. I spebt allday trying to read this post and kept getting interrupted. Im so glad i finally got to read it all.

  7. Tantalising photos. Can't wait to see the whole thing. What sort of machine do you have? It seems to be able to handle anything!

  8. Wow this is so impressive! Those details are wonderful. Have you submitted anything to the OKC quilt show? I'm sure this would be a favorite :)

  9. I've already admired the finished quilt in your festival post, but it's so great that you've shared the details, too. It's so interesting to get a glimpse of the process behind a quilt, especially if you use so many techniques.