Fabric Portrait of a Horse Quilt Block




Introduction: Fabric Portrait of a Horse Quilt Block

About: I am married and retired. Since 1990 my main artform was quilting, but in the past three years I discovered gourd art and that has become my new love. Besides quilting and gourd art, I play mountain dulcimer…

This shows the steps I went through to assemble an applique quilt block of a horse head for a friend.

Step 1: Print the Pattern

I printed out the original photo after using photoshop to separate colors and shapes and cut it out to help choose background fabric.

This instructable shows the process I used in photoshop on a similar project: https://www.instructables.com/id/Designing-fabric-portaitsquilts-using-photoshop/

Step 2: Trace the Shapes on Tracing Paper and Choose Fabrics

This shows the lines drawn to separate the shapes so they can be traced. Each pieced is numbered and given a letter that corresponds to the fabric for that piece. I glued snips of each fabric on the size to keep track.

Step 3: Line Fabrics Up on Pattern

I use deli paper or tracing paper to trace the pattern to help with placing the pieces on the background. I lay the tracing paper on top and line of the fabric piece under it make sure I get it in the right place. I also keep pieces pinned to it until I'm ready to attach them.

Step 4: Test Fabric Layout

Here are the pieces laid out to see how they work together before I start basting.

Step 5: Baste the First Pieces to Background

Here are the first pieces basted and ready to appliqué. I use a large needle and heavy thread to baste on the stitching line. This makes it easier to turn the edges under using the tip of the needle.

Step 6: First Pieces Appliqued and Next Group Basted

The first pieces are stitched down and the next are pinned and ready to baste.

Step 7: Making Adjustments

The second group is stitched, but at this point I realized I had either cut something too small or didn't place it exactly right and there was a gap above the dark shadow piece near the mane.

Step 8: More Adjustments

I chose a new fabric after looking at the photo and seeing there was a dark ring around the eyes and added that to both eyes and it covered the gap easily. Now to stitch them down.

Step 9: Almost Finished!

Getting ready to add the final pieces and will be finished!

Step 10: Finished!

And here is the finished product. It's fun choosing the fabrics as you have to look at the prints differently. The eyes were actually knot holes in a woodgrain print. Look for batiks, marbles, even some florals will work. Don't be afraid to use the wrong side of the fabrics as well.

Step 11: Side by Side View

Yes, the shadows on the block are darker than the original picture, but they add more depth and interest. I used fabrics out of my stash, but I might have been able to match the colors more closely had I shopped specifically for this project. It may not be a perfect copy of the photo, but it catches the spirit of the horse. remember, you are creating art, so it is open to your interpretation.

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    4 years ago

    I'm curious about the basting part of the process. I assume you turned under at the basting line, but what stitch did you use to tack down permanently? Do you ever use free arm quilting?


    Reply 1 year ago

    I just found this question after 3 years and not sure if I ever saw or answered it. It has been so many years since I made this, I believe I did needle turn to r


    10 years ago on Introduction

    This, this could be it, the project I need/want to remember a filly we had. Thank you so much for this instructable!


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I'm so glad I could help. I could have gotten a better resemblance, but couldn't afford to buy more fabric. The closer you can match the fabric to your pattern the better. I like to use 5-9 fabrics. I don't know if you the other ible that explains how to use photoshop to get your pattern. You can use tracing paper and make your own pattern, but photoshops makes it so much easier. Good luck!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    This is beautiful! I love horses. You have inspired me to try this...I'm just learning how to quilt.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    So glad you liked it. it doesn't look exactly like the photo, but I was trying to work from my stash and couldn't match the colors exactly. Feel free to ask questions if you run into trouble. My other ible shows how I used photoshop to separate the shapes and colors. the hardest part is deciding how many layers and matching the fabrics. I have found 5-10 fabric is the best range. If you try to do too much detail it ends up looking messy and confusing. When looking for fabrics, think out of the box. Look at the backside as well as the front. hand dyed and batiks are great for this.squint at smaller prints to see if they would work as a solid. I used a mauve with subtle rose vines on a portrait once for the ears. The vines looked like the shadows on the ear. It also helps to have a friend help you look for fabrics. My husband has a great eye for what I need and has found some of my favorite pieces. Beware. this can be quite addicting.


    14 years ago on Introduction

    Neat! So far you have posted two great Instructables. Keep up the great work, I really like them!


    Reply 14 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the kind words :)
    i have had these on my photo site, but mainly showed them to folks in quiltchat. I have become addicted to this site and decided to go ahead and post here as well.