Triptych Art Quilts

I just finished another triptych art quilt.  There are lots of reasons I like making triptychs but it all begins with how much easier it is to sew three reasonably sized art quilts than one large quilt.  I sew on a Bernina 750….a great machine….but since it isn’t a long arm, the larger the quilt the crazier it is to quilt.  This becomes more pronounced the more

Old english garden 2
Old english garden 2

creative free motion quilting I want to do, where easy movement of the quilt is needed.

Here is my newest triptych:  Old English Garden 2.  This triptych has a short story…..I had made Old English Garden triptych about a year ago.  I listed the quilts as a triptych OR to buy individually.  Someone bought the middle quilt and after about 6 months with just the smaller quilts in my shop, I decided to make another middle quilt and return these three quilts to a triptych.  I believe the colors and design really glow in the triptych arrangement though I know the larger middle quilt is a beauty by itself also.  This new “quilt” will only be sold as a triptych.  Thankfully I still had all the fabrics from the original three quilts so making the middle quilt again wasn’t too difficult.  It is similar to the original but since I don’t use patterns, there is some variability.

One of the fun challenges of triptychs is that I like to make the pattern and colors carry over from one quilt to the next.  I’ve attached twoIMG_0564IMG_0562 close ups of the transition sides of this triptych so you can see how the curves and colors transition.  This is a bit tricky when I’m piecing…especially without any patterns.  I like the effect of drawing your eyes across the quilts as you enjoy the colors and curves.

I’ve attached a picture of one of my other triptychs to see how art quilts can be created in this design style in a landscape art quilt.




11 Responses

  1. I am making my first triptych landscape quilt! Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. Mine is like the quilt you show at the bottom; my question is whether to piece it and quilt it as a whole piece and then cut it into thirds or from the beginning to make three separate quilts?

    1. I have done both and they each have challenges. Sometimes it is hard to piece the full width of a triptych to make it all in one piece and then cut. But then too it is more complex to piece the connecting sides carefully so they look as though they are passing from one panel to the other. Once I decided to make a triptych after making one panel which ended up being the middle panel but I felt the design had good options to be three quilts with design connections. Probably the easiest is to make one large quilt. One of the factors to consider is how the binding is going to work with the flow of fabrics from one panel to the next. When you make the panels separately you can give yourself 1/2″ – 3/4″ on each side where the fabric is fairly straight and easy to match with the next panel before the fabric flows up or down. I’m not sure I’m helping any but giving you some pros and cons. Have fun and send a photo when you are finished.

  2. Thanks so much! I am a huge fan and I’m honored to receive a personal answer. Due to the size of the quilt (8 ft long; 5 ft wide), I’ve decided to do it in panels. We will see how it turns out!

    1. I am 69 so doing separate panels would work my older brain more so that is a plus!! The size you are working with should be easier in panels.

  3. Yes, I’m 71 and wrestling with the full size is difficult. I only began quilting 10 years ago and I did my first landscape quilt three years ago and it was much smaller. This is my first triptych. There is remarkably little advice online about triptych quilts.

    1. I have basically figured out most of my quilt designing once I progressed past the basics of quilting like piecing and binding.

  4. Thanks so much for your advice! I’m making progress on my triptych quilt!

    But, I ran into a problem – the fusible wasn’t holding onto the fabric. Neither was my Elmer’s glue stick. So I dotted Liquid Stitch in a number of places. That works. But now I’m worried that I cannot quilt this because of gumming up the machine. Any advice?

    1. I use fusible backing for short periods of time and am sewing each piece with rough edge applique rather soon after fusing. You would need to read more about the glue product you used to find out how it would impact quilt stitching and your machine. I have never used liquid stitch so don’t know how to answer you. I use fusing very sparingly and at the quilt stitching phase so a piece is fused and then I sew it on through the envelope of batting and backing OR sometimes I also pin it if I must fuse a few pieces before stitching but the stitching step is coming quickly after the fusing.

      My tritych quilts were all pieced so I didn’t discuss this with you previously.

  5. Thanks so much for your guidance! Hope you don’t mind that I am back with another question.

    My question now is about the order of things.

    I have now pieced and quilted the background (sunset sky, mountains, water and foreground) for each part of the triptych. What remains is for me to add the appliques – the island on the right triptych, extending into the middle one, big Western red cedars in the foreground on both sides, the ferry on the right and a crescent moon.

    Given that I want to quilt each applique piece, I am thinking about the order. Would I first make each applique (with fusible), then quilt each, and then hand-sew it onto the quilt where it belongs? Or is there a better order?

    1. I would prepare each appliqué, fuse them on your landscape and then sew them to the quilted background. Finally, quilt the fused pieces. I haven’t done much appliqué on the scale you are doing but this approach should be the easiest and avoid hand sewing…always one of my goals!! If you want more depth for these pieces such that you would add additional batting under them, I think you could still do what I’m proposing as the easiest approach. When I have used appliqué it has been before any machine quilting at all so the appliqué pieces were quilted at the same time as the background. Your approach is fine and should work fine.

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