Turn a printed panel into a faux applique mini quilt
As you may know, Spoonflower is a print on demand fabric company. Designers from all over the world upload amazing designs that you can order. Spoonflower holds weekly challenges with a variety of themes to inspire the designers. Earlier this year, I hand lettered and illustrated this piece for the affirmations challenge. I wanted something that could be printed on a fat quarter and easily turned into a banner or art quilt.
My little art quilt turned out super cute and was pretty darn easy and fast. When I showed it at my quilt guild meeting, many of the ladies were impressed by how long it must have taken me to applique all those words. LOL. Like I have time for that! They were surprised that it was a panel. The secret is to machine stitch around all the shapes.
If you love this project and want to order this fat quarter to make one of your own, you can find it here: https://www.spoonflower.com/en/fabric/8585270-future-looks-bright-by-inklaura The default setting on Spoonflower is Basic Cotton, but I recommend selecting KONA COTTON from the drop down menu. You should select Fat quarter to get one panel. If you select 1 yard, then you will be able to make 4 little quilts.
When my fabric arrived, I did a little happy dance, and then washed it per Spoonflower’s recommendation. I used gentle cycle with a tiny bit of Ivory dishsoap (my favorite for fabric – as was recommended to me by Harriet Hargrave in a class I attended from her many years ago). Dry on gentle cycle, remove promptly, and press well.
For the backing, I chose a fat quarter of Kona Cotton in Lemon Yellow (sized slightly larger than my spoonflower panel). It was also prewashed and pressed well. If you choose to use a printed backing fabric, be sure to place it on your cutting table, printed side DOWN so that when the quilt sandwich is completed the pretty side will be facing outward.
Cut a piece of batting to match the size of your backing fabric and smooth it out over the top of the backing fabric. For small art quilts I use Hobbs Thermore batting. (http://www.hobbsbatting.com/products/thermore) It comes queen size and folded in a bag. One bag lasts me a LONG time. I like it because it is very thin (1/16”) and not lumpy and bumpy. Since it’s polyester, it doesn’t require dense quilting and if you need to wash the completed quilt, then it won’t pucker up like cotton batting does. While I LOVE a puckered up lap quilt, I don’t really want my art quilts to have that same effect.
Now I layered the quilt panel on the top of my sandwich and smoothed it all together. This is the point that it should probably be basted to avoid the fabrics shifting around while quilting.
Confession: For small quilts like this, I sometimes don’t pin or spray baste. GASP! I know! I really should but when the layers are sticking together well and I know that I won’t be doing a lot of heavy quilting that will cause it to shift, I just throw it on the machine and quilt.
Now it’s time for the fun part! I set up my machine with a new needle and put on my walking foot. I used matching thread for the top and either matching thread or yellow thread in the bobbin. I used cotton 50 wt thread – usually Aurifil.
First I quilted the line along the top curve of the rolling hill. Then I started quilting the line underneath it. Then I ripped it out because I just couldn’t see it well and veered off the path… oops. So I got out my trusty chalk pencil and drew a line so I could actually see where to sew.
When those lines are quilted, it seriously looks like you took a long time appliqueing that green onto the blue.
I changed my thread from green to white and outlined the edge of the clouds and one edge of the inner cloud accents too. You could do this with the free motion foot if you prefer.
With yellow thread, I SLOWLY outlined the main shape of the sun using the free motion foot. As you can see in the photo, I stitched a line connecting all the dots to the sun image. Although it’s not shown yet, I also stitched a line straight down the center of the darker yellow lines.
Now, I tackled the letters. If you go slow, it’s not hard. It just takes a bit longer. But seriously, nowhere NEAR as long as it would take to prepare all those shapes and applique them all down. I again used the free motion foot and went very slow. Honestly, the worst part was all the starting and stopping and burying the threads.
In these photos I had already buried the threads at the beginning of the T. I usually don’t do that until the end. Aaaand pay no attention to the unfinished U. I remember going back and ripping it out and re-doing it.
When I was done with the stitching, I flattened it out on my cutting table and grabbed my biggest ruler and my rotary blade. As is the case after any sort of machine quilting, the edges needed a bit of straightening out. Making sure you have right angles at the corners, trim the excess batting and backing away. I didn’t really measure it because this is a panel and my finished size wasn’t critical. I just trimmed a smidge away on all 4 sides.
Now my panel was ready to finish. I considered a standard binding but then thought it might look better without that line around the edge. I decided to try a facing instead. It was super easy.
Next time I will share how to add a facing and finish the art quilt panel.
If you end up making this panel, be sure to let me know. I’d love to see it!