Landscape Quilts: Design and Technique

Detail: Hielan' Home

Long established principles of painting can be applied to quiltmaking to produce a great variety of landscapes. Without resorting to creating our own fabric (though this is fun!), value, color, print scale, texture, contrast, and line quality can all be brought into play to design a realistic quilt. Techniques such as colorwash, bargello, foundation piecing, invisible blind-hem machine appliqué, and curved-seam piecing are very adaptable for landscapes and other pictorial quilts. Embellishment and surface techniques such as embroidery, stenciling, and drawing can be used for special effects or to add small detail. Composition, perspective, and emphasis "speak" to the view and give heart to the quiltmaker's vision. My design class touches on all these topics in as much detail as the length of the workshop allows. I've developed worksheets that cover these topics and become a permanent reference for each student. Some classes include "visual exercises" (eyes, not hands) to sharpen observations and improve attention to landscape details.

Machine Appliqué for Landscape Quilts

It is almost true that anything you can draw, you can appliqué. New foundation materials and sewing notions make it possible to do amazing things with the sewing machine. This method is flexible, makes replacing fabrics easy, sews quickly once the design is completed and mimics hand-appliqué in appearance. Best of all, there's no resin or stiffness, so hand quilting is as easy as machine quilting.

Woodland Waterfall is a pattern I developed to teach machine appliqué. It is designed for ease of layering and so that the season depicted can be chosen by the student. The class includes both turned-edge machine appliqué and soft-edge appliqué in addition to lots of verbal information on adding detail using a variety of techniques. Satin-stitch embroidery is demonstrated, as is my method for accurately positioning it without marking the top.

Piecing for Landscape Quilts

Working with straight and curved seams, and a little thought, it is possible to create pieced landscapes. Seams are used as tools and are exploited for ease of construction in addition to their usefulness as lines. This is a class for people who love puzzles and like the graphic quality of piecing. The technique is no more difficult than traditional piecing and all it takes is a willingness to step off the "grid."

Pieceful Leaves is the pattern I developed to teach this piecing technique in a short class. Some leaves can be eliminated from the design, and fabric choices can be simplified for beginners.

Conferences & Retreats

These classes can be and have been offered in a variety of forms from an intensive 1-day class to a weekend workshop (2-days plus lecture), to a 5-day residential retreat class. Students appreciate a bit of time to "process" the volume of information contained in the class or to put it into cloth, so shops sometimes offer this class with a week or two break between sessions. It is also possible to schedule a "class reunion" several weeks after the first classes to discuss details, quilting and border design. Students like to see each other's progress.

Both appliqué and Piecing can of course be adapted to any pictorial image, so these workshops are useful for anyone who wants to create a recognizable image of any type -- portrait to still life.

See more students' landscape quilts in the Student Qult Gallery.

Fees and Requirements

For fees and requirements, send an email, or call me, (805) 962-8511.

©2006 Norah McMeeking