Introduction: Wall Art Quilt
This is a beautiful wall art quilt that my daughter (@10 years old) made for the PTA reflections contest and it's entitled, "My Neighborhood." The theme was "Heroes around us" and she chose to portray our neighborhood (though a very creative & somewhat abstract interpretation as we are 'burb-dwellers and not city-dwellers as it might appear). She chose our neighborhood as her theme "because our neighbors are friendly" and she feels "it's every-day, ordinary people who make a difference in our lives." I love the warmth it conveys that even though it is night, you see the glow of people's lights. And even though it is night, it's happy and feels safe.
A wall art quilt would be the perfect project for a grown-up or child right now who is social-distancing / Corona quarantined and who also wants to beautify the home with a DIY piece worthy of any art show. Wouldn't you want to buy something happy and fun like this at your local summer art fair or farmers' market?
If you aren't a sewist and don't have the materials on hand, all you need is to know a sewist. Put out a request for fabric scraps to your neighborhood or extended family and I guarantee that you will find someone really happy to share with you the fabric materials needed. Sewists usually have way too much fabric and we certainly have an abundance of fabric scraps - pieces too big to throw away but too small to use for most projects. I, for one, would be happy to share fabric with a friend, neighbor, or family member wanting to make their way into a project like this. Of course you can also order fabric online.
Quilts are very time-consuming so this small version for the wall is a perfect beginner piece. But if you've never sewn before, I would certainly recommend practicing sewing a straight line - a lot of straight lines - on scraps before jumping in. Once you've gotten comfortable with that, you're ready to start your work of quilt art!
You won't believe how easy the steps are!
- 100% cotton fabric scraps (we used a lot of batik fabrics)
- 100% cotton fabric for base of front, 1 yard (depending on how big you want your finished wall quilt to be)
- 100% cotton fabric for back of quilt
- quilt batting
- glue stick
- sewing machine
- walking foot (ideal for quilting but don't sweat it if you don't have one)
- 1/2" double-fold binding (enough length for the perimeter of your quilt)
- wooden dowel (for hanging)
Step 1: Draw Your Picture & Cut Out
First, draw your picture on paper the exact size that you'd like your finished quilt to be. Use several pieces of paper together (taped, if need be) if you don't have large paper on hand. Make sure your picture isn't too complicated with too many intricate nor small pieces because these areas will prove difficult to sew around, especially if you are a beginner.
Next, cut out each object on your paper and lay it back in place on a table (or floor) so that when you are done cutting out all the paper pieces, they are laying together as if still connected. This will help you not get confused as to what pieces go where once they are all cut out.
I also love the way that the windows, doors and houses look hand-drawn - they aren't perfectly squared. I think it adds to the charm and modern feel of the art.
Step 2: Cut Fabric
Cut a piece of fabric large enough to be your foundation/ background with a lot of margin to give you extra all the way around. You can always cut it down later but you can't make it bigger so start with a slighter bigger piece than you think you'll want in the end.
Then, one-by-one, take the pattern pieces you made from paper and use that as a template to cut out your fabric. Cut some of the fabric slightly larger than your paper pattern if you want to layer them underneath another piece.
In the case of windows (if you have them), cut a piece of fabric to layer behind a window cut-out that is larger than the window. After cutting each piece, lay it on to the fabric where it goes - like putting a puzzle together. Do this right away, one at a time, or else it is easy to get confused about which piece goes where.
Don't glue them down yet on your fabric. Wait until you have them all in place and you're super happy with the look of the whole composition. My daughter swapped a few original fabrics out for other ones after seeing them together and feeling like it was too many different patterns or when she didn't like two colors next to each other like she thought she would. After you have it just right, you can... (next step)
Step 3: Glue Fabric Pieces Down
Once you have all your pieces cut out and you like the way it looks, go ahead and use your glue stick to glue the pieces in place on the background fabric. Yes - it is a regular glue stick that you'd use on paper at school! It's important to glue them down so that your pieces don't scoot around on you while sewing. And the glue won't show or if it does, it is easily washed out. Just be careful when applying glue to the back of your pieces that you don't get too much (no glops) and that you don't stretch out the fabric when applying the glue.
I think you know that this glue washes out so it wouldn't be as suitable to a t-shirt applique or clothing. You can use a permanent bonding material such as steam-a-seam or sulky but it's much more complicated. Since this is wall art and not a t-shirt, using a glue stick is just fine for this project as it should rarely need washing.
Step 4: Sew & Even Up
Next you will add a layer of quilt batting behind the front piece and then the backing fabric and pin all around (with quilting pins if you have them - they look like safety pins that have been bent). Just use straight pins if you don't have these!
Then zig-zag stitch around each border, changing thread color as you go to match the fabric. The zig-zag stitch will help keep your raw edges from unravelling. I would recommend starting near the middle and working your way outward from the center, smoothing the fabric as you go. Be patient - this is the most time-consuming step because you need to trace every border, including around the inside of windows - if your subject matter has windows.
After sewing all the fabric pieces down, add any details you want with stitching on the background fabric - like plants. I couldn't talk my daughter into adding some tufts of green grass with her stitching but she did add windowpane crossbars and the moon. Super cute! Adding stitching to your picture outside the fabric will add texture and interest. You can use chalk to draw these details on to your fabric and then follow your chalk outlines with your stitching. Chalk will brush off or wipe off later with a damp cloth. If it's a light fabric, you can use very light pencil marks.
Once you are done with all of your sewing, measure and even-up any edges. Sometimes things shift around a bit so a clean cut on each side with a rotary cutter and ruler will most likely be necessary. Remeasure and make sure your work is an even rectangle (or square or whatever shape you'd like). You probably don't want to end up with a trapezoid-type shape... just sayin'.
Step 5: Triangle Sleeves
Next you will prepare triangles for the upper back side in order to install a wooden dowel rod inside for hanging it on the wall. As you may see in this picture, we added the triangles after the binding was already sewn. They are laying on top of the binding on the back. Adding them before is less work for you - simpler is always good - so follow these instructions. Yours will go inside the binding.
Cut 2 right triangles that measure slightly less than 1/2 the width of your quilt. So say your quilt now measures 24" wide, cut a square that has sides measuring around 11". Then cut this square diagonally to make 2 triangles of equal size. These can be cut from any kind of 100% cotton fabric - doesn't have to match - won't show once your quilt is hung.
Finish the one edge opposite the right triangle by folding 1/4" and pressing, and then fold again, press and straight stitch along this edge. This is the only edge where raw edges need to be finished. The other two sides of your right triangle will be sandwiched into your binding around the edges.
Then pin your triangle into each top corner, the 90-degree angle of your triangle on top of the quilt's top corner and baste 1/4" away from the edge on those two sides of the triangle to fix to the quilt. This basting stitch won't show after the binding is sewn but will keep your triangles in just the right place.
Step 6: Bind Edges, Hang, Then Ooo and Ahh
We used only 1 package of binding. You can make your own binding but it's not expensive (about $2.50-$3.00 per package) to buy pre-made so I'd go that route if you are a beginner. (Binding is essentially fabric that has been cut on the diagonal and folded/pressed so all raw edges are inside at the center fold.) There are lots of great tutorials out there in how to bind a quilt. Like this one that has mitered corners: https://www.instructables.com/id/Flannel-baby-bla...
However, you can do this in one fell swoop as a shortcut as my daughter did. One side of the binding is slightly larger (wider) than the other. You'll want this side underneath the quilt then fold it around your quilt edge, making sure edge of quilt meets the center fold of the binding. You probably don't even need to pin this. Just sandwich as you go, use a straight stitch, and take your time to make sure it's all even. Start somewhat near a bottom corner but not at the corner. This will make finishing simpler if it is not at a corner. When you get to the corner you will have to do some hand-cranking of your sewing machine to slowly get your needle into the corner fold - and you'll fold almost as if you are folding the corners of the sheets when making a bed. Keep your needle down, lift up the machine foot, and then pivot the quilt to sew the next side. When you get around to where you started, you'll overlap that part and fold the raw ends inside and finish off. Again, if you need to see this in action, look up a tutorial. They abound on the internet.
Then all you need to do is cut your wooden dowel to put in for hanging and we hung ours directly on a nail. If your dowel is too big around for that, you can attach hanging wire around it and hang from that.
I hope you can make a beautiful piece of happy art like this for your home! It's something lovely with which to redeem the quarantine time.
Please also go to the Fiber Arts Contest and cast your vote for this piece. Thank you!!
Peace and health to you and yours in these social-distancing days.
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Participated in the
Fiber Arts Contest