Friday, July 25, 2014

Birches and Virginia Creeper

Birches and Virginia Creeper

Today I'll show you some of the steps I took making this quilt.  Out on the fabric market right now is  a GREAT birch tree fabric. (I sell it in my store, it is by Kanvas). BUT, when I made this quilt, I had to invent my own trees and this is how I did it.

This project is one from my new book which is out in November 2014 and called Lovely Landscape Quilts. I'm showing you extra bits that I couldn't put in the book.

I think I might have mentioned in a previous blog that I REALLY don't know what the outcome of a quilt will be when I start it.  I may have general ideas, but I usually start with a "what if....?"  I like trying new things!

That being said, I began string piecing 4-5 inch blocks of left over scraps. I knew I wanted a kind of landscape so I purposefully used lighter values in the 'sky' and added some blue prints. This is what I came up with.  I arranged the blocks so that I did NOT have those V's going horizontally all across the quilt top, but only here and there.

I thought this was kind of cool, but not interesting enough. Time to add something...
String pieced background

 I decided to make a clump of birch trees. So... time to draw them out on freezer paper and make a pattern. I did not want to fuse/applique these because seams from the underlying blocks would come through the the tree trunks and make them lumpy.  I also was sick of raw edges, hence instead of just cutting them out, I made a pattern so I could turn the edges under.  Here is my drawing. Incidentally, the patterns for all my branches and trees will be on tissue inserts in my new book!

Drawing out a pattern
 Next step was to find fabrics.  I sorted through my stash and found these.

Fabrics for tree trunks

You can see in this photo that I started with a 'base' tree trunk of that plain horizontal textured fabric. This is the tree that is on the right. (The edges are turned under already).

 I cut out some patches from the other fabrics and began to glue them onto my base trunk to add texture and get rid of all those regular horizontal lines.  I just used a regular glue stick and began cutting and adding bits of the other fabrics.

I made two trunks the same way.

Here is a  big closeup for you to see - 

Closeup of the texture

Once I was happy with the tree trunks, I got out fabric dye markers and shaded the left side of each tree trunk.

Shaded tree trunk

Shading tree trunks

Once the shading was done, I put them on the background.

I used both Sharpie silver metallic markers and a regular fabric marker - this one had a brush tip and is made by Marvy. I sell them on my website - when I have stock, I'm out right now. You can also buy them at a Ben Franklin store.
Layout - these tree trunks don't stand out enough - back to the drawing board...

Or should I say 'paint' board?
I have been known to get out white acrylic paint and highlight trees to make them bright white. I dabbed on paint on the right side in patches and did not 'blend' the white splotches into the rest of the tree trunk. Just splotched it on and let dry.

Painting the trees WHITE on the right side
I know, my ironing board cover is horrible. I go through them fast... which isn't a surprise!

The tree trunks are in place. I stitched down one side, and stuffed strips of binding underneath before stitching down the other side. I really want them to stand out and I didn't want seams under them to show.

Time for branches...

Drawing and designing branches
I use freezer paper to make all my branches. When I'm done, I stuff the paper into a plastic bag so next time I don't have to make branches if I don't want to. 

Finding fabric for branches

I wanted mottled gray fabrics with some texture which might resemble bark so I chose these. 

Branches are fused in place
By the time I was done shading the branches, you couldn't see any of the texture anyway. Oh well, it doesn't matter.

Adding the Virginia Creeper
The Virginia Creeper is just fused on. I had a great red leaf print so I just cut out the leaves. ("Broderie Perse Applique" - It is such a sophisticated way of saying cut and paste, lol.)
Added white veins to the red leaves with a marker

And here we have it. All done. For borders I just made more blocks which were slightly bigger and fudged them into the right dimensions. 
Comments? Questions? I'd love to hear from you. Quilt On!


  1. Fabulous! I love this and can't wait for the new book. Love the mix of fabrics and the glow in the sky area. Thanks for sharing how you achieved the details.....and the inspiration.

    1. Thanks Debbie - you'd better be saving and gathering scraps, lol. I'm so so HAPPY that Fons/Porter (They are the publishers) said YES when I wanted to include tissue paper inserted patterns. I hope all my quilty friends will find it helpful and will use them in their own projects too.

      Thanks for writing. :)

  2. Thanks for the great instruction. I can't wait to see your new book. Hope I have enough "strings" for that great background!

    1. Well... you can always buy a few 1/4 yard pieces to augment your stash, lol. There is a great great birch tree fabric out now that I hope will still be around in the coming months so you all won't have to go through all the extra work of making the tree trunks. Thank you for writing!