An Insiders Look at Creating an Art Quilt.

People often ask how I create my art quilts, so I have gathered together some process photos for you to enjoy.

My piece, The Ladies, evolved from a black and white photo taken of a garden party, sometime in the 1920’s. What fascinated me the most, about this photo, was all the hats, so they became the focus of the design. One woman, wearing a trench coat and beret, seems quite daring, in comparison to the rest of the “ladies”. The faces were less important to me, than the hats, but still convey a lot of character through the use of hand-dyed and batik fabrics.

These women belong to that era when women were called “ladies”, and thus, the name of the piece – The Ladies.

Sketch for The Ladies art quilt.

Sketch for The Ladies art quilt.

With each piece, I start out by enlarging the photo, or sketch, to my desired size. Then I create a tracing to overlay the foundation piece of fabric. This helps me to be sure that I am placing the pieces in the correct spot. I use a fusible web, on the back of the fabric, and temporarily stick the fabric pieces to the foundation.

This is what the start of the process looks like:

Detail of hat

Detail of hat

I start placing small pieces of fabric, fitting them together, in a similar fashion to piecing a puzzle.

Gradually the picture develops:

Four ladies in various stage of dress.

Four ladies in various stage of dress.

If I am satisfied with the look of the picture as it develops, I keep going. Otherwise, I can replace pieces, as needed, to get the correct shading, and look, that I want.


The Ladies showing the progress.

The Ladies showing the progress.

I love adding little details, such as the purse, that the woman in mauve is holding.

Finally, I look at the whole piece, and decide what background I need, to accent the piece.

A process photo of The Ladies art quilt.

A process photo of The Ladies art quilt.

In this case, this lovely, multicoloured fabric creates the look of a garden behind the ladies. Just the look that I wanted!

Next I add stitching to hold everything in place and to bring out all the finer details.

Here is the finished piece:

Full view of The Ladies art quilt.

The Ladies – full view

And a detail view:

Detail of The Ladies art quilt, showing a close-up of the hats and faces.

The Ladies – Detail

I hope that this glimpse in to my process, answers some of your questions. If you have further questions, please leave me a comment. I would be delighted to help out!




4 thoughts on “An Insiders Look at Creating an Art Quilt.

  1. Terry Aske

    Valerie – I always love seeing how other quilt artists construct their pieces. Thanks for sharing.

    (And every time I see this piece, I think about the Marilyn Belford Quilt University course you and I both ‘attended’ where you started this piece.)

  2. xxx

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    1. Valerie Wilson Post author

      Alexandra – I will look in to the compatibility issue. Thanks for the heads up!



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