Anatomy of an Art Quilt

You guys know I love to make fiber art, but I bet some of you don’t know how I do it.  Here’s what’s in this article:

  • Prep Work
  • Quilting
  • Blocking and Finishing
  • Hanging
  • Events

 Prep Work

Many people I talk with at art shows are intrigued by fiber art.  There are many different kinds, and nowadays artists are really mixing it up with all kinds of techniques.  Most of my work is done using 3 layers.  The front fabric, the batting, and the backing.

top, batting, and bottom layer








Mostly I use a  really fine fusible called Misty Fuse to hold all these layers together nice and flat so I don’t get any shifting or puckering.  I will iron these together and the heat does all the work.  In the old days, I used the traditional method of 18 gazillion safety pins to hold the layers together.  But as I told you before, I’m lazy and not very patient.  Plus all those pins tore up my hands.  So, once I make the top of the quilt, I am ready to fuse baste and quilt.

Fuse basted with white batting, edge not yet finished


Now if you are a painter you have some prep of the canvas, but once you paint the surface, you are more or less done.  But, art quilters add another really cool dimension- TEXTURE.  Hours and hours of quilting can go into a single small piece.  Every thread choice and line is important in the final look of the piece. In this photo, I used tissue paper to preview and try out some quilting lines and colors.

Detail of Splash#2 quilting


Blocking and Finishing 

Then comes the less fun part, but no less important.  The piece must be trimmed, and sprayed with water and lightly steamed and left to dry flat.  Edge treatments are very important.  To add or not to add a border?  I usually don’t unless the piece is begging for it.  Why, you ask?  Borders many times can pull the viewers eye away from the main subject matter.  

Sometimes I will add a traditional binding around the raw edge, or I will encase the raw edge and use a facing, so I get a clean edge.  Lately I have been mounting my smaller works on a canvas.

Faced, clean edge on Desert Dunescape


How to hang it?  If it is mounted on a canvas, it’s all set, but if not, I make a fabric hanging pocket across the back.  Then, I cut a hanging rod of flat wood or aluminium, add screw eyes or drill holes and slide it in the pocket.  Now it’s almost ready.  I make a label with the art’s name and info and my info, and print it out on fabric, fuse it to the back, and voila!  Done.  This whole process can take anywhere from a week to 2 months depending on the size and complexity of the piece.

Hanging pocket with wood slat








Please feel free to share this article, just make sure you credit me and include this link: my website.  Thanks! 







Come see my work and me in person!

Show Opening! August 3, 2012

Piedmont Craftsmen Gallery:  Stick and Stitch, Art Works in Wood and Fiber

601 N. Trade St. Winston-Salem, NC 27101







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One thought on “Anatomy of an Art Quilt

  1. Good article, Roxanne! Really explains how many of us do things, right down to the finishing.

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