What Every Quilter Needs to Know Before They Sew

Blue Desert

Hi Everyone!

A big welcome to all the new readers!  What’s new? Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to some very talented ladies at Bernina Club in Raleigh.  I even showed them my very first quilt. Ever.  Bad quilting and all.

IMG_5927 IMG_5926

In case you couldn’t be there, I can give you the Cliff notes. Here is the Reader’s Digest version:

If you want to make memorable, well-designed quilts, and who doesn’t, you must, must , must learn from my mistakes! Yes, I’ve made them so you don’t have to 🙂

Here are 3 very common problems that I have noticed in my own work and my students work:

1.  Where do you begin? How do you get started with an original art quilt? (And do I have to know how to draw?)

2.  Undervaluing value contrast

3.  Rushing to finish without evaluating your design

And here are my solutions:

For #1:  Gather Inspiration

Collect pictures in a notebook, or on Pinterest.  Take camera walks looking for things that catch your eye.  Round up your best travel photos.  Collect pictures of textures, colors, animal, vegetable and mineral life, water, skies, trees- in short, anything you’re attracted to.  Use these images as a jumping off point.  You can trace the most important parts- so no, you don’t have to draw!  Some of my best work came from a photo.

For #2:  Use a Range of Values

Get to know your values-  the values you have in your stash.  If you don’t have the lightest and darkest values, you are not playing with a full deck of cards!  And worse, your quilts will be boring because of the lack of value contrast.  See if you can see the values in your fabrics by looking at them through your camera on the black and white setting.  


For #3:  Stop, Wait, & Evaluate

Work up until your pieces are up on your design wall- pinned, but not sewn or fused.  Now move back and make sure you have a balanced composition.  Really look! Do you have a good range of values?  Is your composition too chaotic or too static?  Is your focal point clear?  Is your main idea clear?  Do this final evaluation before you finish and don’t rush this part.  According to Jane Hall, well respected quilter and judge, a good design counts as much as good technique. Really!  I heard her say it…

I hope these  tips help you with your designing.  And if you have any questions about designing your original art quilts, please ask me below in the comments. 



Adding the dark values has helped give this piece some definition.  But I had to cut the dark strips because they were too thick and were overpowering the whole design.  Little by little this piece is coming together!  I haven’t had much time to work on it lately, but I hope to get some more work done later this week.



Two fabulous books that are required reading for all my students:  Inspired to Design, Seven Steps to Successful Art Quilts   and Visual Guide to Working In a Series, both by Elizabeth Barton.  You can get them both on Amazon. Gorgeous pics, and lots of great design advice.



I want you to make the most amazing, original art quilts that you can.  That is why I am now accepting private students who are serious about their creative expression in the world of art quilting.  Take advantage of my 15+ years as a textile artist, and speed up your learning curve.

To work with me privately, please set up your initial, no obligation,  free Get Creative Call here: 

Schedule Appointment

You can find out more by clicking on the Testimonials and Private Coaching tabs to the right in the sidebar or at the menu at the top.

Did You Know?

That I am on Pinterest?  Did you know that there are many amazing art quilts and traditional quilts being pinned every day, just waiting for you to look at?  

Never before has so much inspiration been in one place.  It’s like having an art museum in your hands.  If you haven’t checked it out, there are many, many types of things being pinned.

 It’s super easy to get started.  You can take a look at my pins, which are organized on different “boards” HERE.  Once you are on that page, you can click on the Get Started Button to make your own page on Pinterest.  Then start pinning!  I can spend a lot of time on Pinterest, because it’s all visual.  And I have a feeling, you will too!   


And don’t forget, I make custom commissions too! Read what my client Glenda had to say about her custom commission experience:

“Normally, I would be anxious about commissioning someone to do a work of art such as this. However, I felt a connection to you when Leigh showed me your work. It resonated with me and when I met you, you seemed almost a personification of your work. I immediately felt comfortable with you and knew that what you would create would be stunning. And it is!”

About Roxane


Roxane is a full time studio textile artist and teacher with two girls and 1 fat cat. She is a 2012 Niche Award Winner and exhibits her work all over the world. Her work is in several private collections and loves doing custom commissions.  For more info go to http://roxanelessa.com.

If you and a small group of folks want a more private instruction experience, call me. We can work out a studio workshop in my studio. Just drop me an email: roxane@roxanelessa.com

Permission to duplicate: You certainly can use this blog, just be sure to credit me and include this link, Roxane Lessa. Hey, if you like this blog, please hit the FB or Twitter icon in the top right sidebar and share with others! That’s why they are there…..:)



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