Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mosaic Quilting tutorial

I've been working on a quilt to submit to shows next year using a mosaic technique I kind of made up. I say kind of because I heard someone talking about a book (Serendipity Quilts), but I never got the book, and after I did it, I looked through the book and found that she does it somewhat differently (and her quilts are amazing, where mine is basic, but I like it.)

Here is how I make a mosaic quilt.

First, find some scrap fabric and draw your design on it.  You need a line wherever you are going to use a different color. If you draw in the wrong place, just X out the line so you know not to pay attention to it. No one will see this. 

 Next, get a big stack of a lot of different fabrics of the color you plan to use.  You want a lot of variety or it won't blend as well in the end.  I raided both my scrap boxes and my fat quarter stash.

You are going to glue these down to the base fabric, but DO NOT glue all the way to the line.  Here you can see where I put glue down.  I do a mix of gluing the base fabric and putting glue on the fabric I'm putting down, but it is easiest to avoid the lines if you glue on the base fabric.Use washable glue sticks.  If you get them at back to school time, they cost a fraction of the rest of the year.

Fill the whole area, going OVER the lines.  Use lots of small pieces.  Or if you want a non mosaic look, you could just use one big piece, but this technique probably isn't the one for you.

Now, carefully cut all the fabric away so that it is exactly on the line.  I found using small applique scissors made this the easiest.

Here is why you didn't glue all the way to the line.  Tuck the next color of fabric UNDER the first color.
And fill the shapes the same way. Again, don't glue all the way to the line.

When you are done filling this color, trim again to the lines.

Keep going until the entire fabric is filled.

Now, you need to make a regular quilt sandwich- backing, batting, and this is your top.  I originally layered with tulle but I received some advice that it muted the colors too much, so halfway through I switched. 

Let's talk about tulle first:  To make the tulle "hide" you need to quilt very dense microquilting. This holds down all the fabric, and it also puts enough thread on the fabric that you can't see the thin layer of tulle without looking really hard. This also holds down any fraying and makes the raw edges basically not raw.  But it does mute the colors; but you could experiment and try different colors of tulle and see what they do.

The quilt artist who critiqued my quilt didn't like the muting of the colors, and she also thought the microquilting made the overall look too flat. She recommended looser quilting.  I did that on the outside of the flower (I had already done the flower).  In this case, I layered water soluble stabilizer over my quilt top, and then flipped it over and quilted from the back. (Because I had already done the center using the back better allowed me to see the design.)  This design choice also has a downside- raw edges. The tulle doesn't hold them down so there is visible fray.  For a few, I used non-washable glue to hold them down since they showed my background fabric, the quilting is not so tight to hold it down.  If you plan to do this method I would use coordinating background fabric and not just any old fabric like I originally did.

The front of the quilt is still a secret, but here is the back of one of them after quilting.  You can see how tight it is over the tulle.

Please let me know if you use this technique or if you have any questions!  I'd be happy to answer them.  Stay tuned for the final quilt.