Tag Archives: portrait quilt

Revisiting Portrait Quilting

Izzy on sax quiltIzzy saxIzzy on the Sax copy

My talented granddaughter recently experimented with the alto sax.  (This proud grandma can’t avoid mentioning the fact that she is proficient on the flute, but I’ll refrain from listing her other wonderful talents and attributes, so that we can get back to the quilting.)  I liked this photo so much that I wanted to try a wall hanging from it.  Here is the process used:

  1. The first step was using a photo editing program to posterize, change to gray scale, and enlarge the photo.  The enlarged photo was then printed in sections.  You may have to think through programs available to you, to accomplish this.  Once printed, the sections were overlapped and taped, to recreate the picture.
  2. Use a broad marker to outline the shapes you will use as patterns.
  3. I decided there were areas of background that could be pieced at random, and prepared these next.  (As the first photo shows, this included mainly areas to the upper right and upper left)  These were then attached to a light muslin base the size of the completed quilt.
  4. I now started building the images of granddaughter and sax from background pieces up, by tracing the desired area onto tracing paper and cutting them from my chosen fabric, already attached to a fusible backing.  These were pressed in place, sometimes directly onto the muslin, but at other times (such as in completing the face)  the pieces were first assembled by ironing them onto a non-stick surface.   An applique pressing sheet was used, but the release paper from a previous fusing process also works.  As pieces were added to the muslin they were machine stitched, using both straight and decorative stitches.  (Unfortunately the photos for this post are not clear enough to show detail, but this means you will freely use your own imagination.)
  5. When the image was complete, I chose to add borders, then a quilt sandwich was formed (quilt, light weight cotton batting and backing fabric) and was bonded together with basting adhesive.
  6. Now came the fun part.  Free-motion quilting was used to add dimension to everything.  If this is not joyful for you, however, a machine straight stitch would work just fine for all the quilting.
  7. A traditional binding was then attached.

While I enjoyed the process of this, my second portrait quilt, it has probably become just another chapter in my quilting education.  I am ever drawn onward to learning new techniques.  If another portrait quilt is attempted, I believe it will be more spontaneous and abstract.  But half the fun in this learning process is finding out what happens next!

Feel free to ask questions in the comment section, and I would love to hear about your quilting experiences.

Discovering Portrait Quilting

gemma selfiegemma selfie
For some time now, portrait quilts have intrigued me.  After studying them, listening to You Tube tutorials, reading and imagining, I finally jumped in and gave it a try last week.  There are as many styles and techniques as there are quilters, as we all know, so I kept reminding myself that there is no wrong or right when it comes to quilting.

I started with a selfie,Selfie for grandma posted by my son, as selfies already  have a nice low number of megapixels, making it easily simplified, and because the distortion makes me smile.  This was to be a trial piece and I anticipated it would go in a scrap pile somewhere when finished.  It really surprised me, therefore, when I actually started to really like it.  Many authors have mentioned that, with art quilting, you need to feel free to just go where the quilt takes you, and that it will often take it’s own direction.  Initially it was to be just the isolated head of my granddaughter, but as that neared completion, the distortion of the selfie begged to be explained, so the cell phone border was added, complete with hand embroidered icons and a sparkly “screen”.  The title then went from “A Selfie for Grandma”, to “Facetime with Gemma”.

The simplified process was as follows:

1.  Using a photo editor, the head was isolated and simplified using a poster app.

2.  The result was printed in gray scale and I then traced around each piece I was seeing, using parchment.  By cutting the parchment pieces apart, you have a pattern.Selfie for grandma

3.  At this point you need to consider the process you plan to use.  If doing hand applique you need to add 1/4 inch all around each piece, but I planned to bond and machine applique,   Bonding is applied to each fabric you plan to use, then the pieces are cut out.  (I traced onto the bond paper, so had to place my pattern face down as well.)

4.  The face on mine was treated as a base, with the smaller pieces ironed on.  Then the whole face was bonded to the background fabric.  I stitched close to all the edges before making a quilt sandwich, and used hand and machine embroidery on the eyes, eyebrows and eyelashes.  The rest of the quilting and machine embroidery were done after layering the quilt sandwich.

If you wish more detail on any of the steps, feel free to contact me through the comments.  I am always ready to talk about quilting.