Designing and Planning a Landscape Quilt

I’m not a sketcher or very good at drawing.but I do make some rudimentary sketches for most of my landscape quilts.  These are very broad and simplistic ideas of the way I want the art quilt to flow and appear.  Much of what I use the sketches for is to figure the proportions of the quilt.  How much will be sky?  How much lake?  How much mountains?  How much foreground?  Graph paper is the best tool for this purpose.  I also use this initial sketch to figure out approximately how many trees and their staggered placement, some in the background and some in the foreground.

See the photo of a sketch I did for my “Trees 21 with Mountains and Lake” quilt.  Nothing in this sketch resembles anything close to even a draft of a pattern for the components of the quilt.  I’m just not a pattern person.  But I do get some ideas about general flow of curves and design for each component part.  The hardest thing for me to keep in mind is to always remember there is a seam allowance so any piece I cut for the quilt is going to get smaller as it goes together.  Sometimes I end up ripping and resewing when I get the size wrong.  I liken that to the painter who paints over and refines her picture with different paint strokes and colors.  You can see the finished quilt in a second photo.

I took some photos along the way with my “Trees 20” art quilt too though forgot to photograph the sketch.  You can see a picture with several tree fabrics laid out.  I ended up changing my mind as I sewed the trees into the quilt, opting for more medium to dark colors on the right side of the quilt instead of having a light or variegated colored tree on both sides.  I spend a lot of time THINKING and VIEWING quilts as they are going together.  Often they are up on my design wall to do this, sometime they are laid out on my cutting table.  If I can’t decide, I take photos and view the photos on my camera or on my computer.  A photo organizes the colors and shapes differently for your eyes.  Everything about decisions on design and color are personal preference for me.  I know it when I see it….the balance and color and design I’m looking for.

I like trees slightly off straight, some bending one way or the other.  I like different widths, sizes, and shapes of trees.  You should make whatever you like and you want to create.  The best thing about contemporary quilting is that there are no rules!!  Enjoy sewing!

6 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing. I was getting all uptight about the process but your explanation helped me relax and enjoy the process. I do paint and understand the “ editing” that goes on.

  2. This has been a dream for me.. (to create a landscape quilt). Your process is so… creative, forgiving and dynamic in your written words. You’ve inspired me to start. Thank you!
    I only wish you lived closer and we all weren’t still worried about Covid. I’d take a class with you

    1. Thank you! I love making art quilts mostly because I’ve established a fun approach, a relaxed and creative approach. Good luck and have fun!

  3. These quilts are beautiful! One question. How do you attach the trees? Are they appliqued?

    1. The trees are cut into my tree quilts, in other words, pieced. Sometimes they are inserted this way while the background is pieced such that I add more pieces below them. Other quilts they run top to bottom so are ct into the quilt after the whole background is created. This is one of the qualities of my quilts which sets me apart from other quilters. Most people make landscape quilts by appliquéing the trees on top of the background.

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