Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How to Make a Watercolor Quilt

What is a Watercolor Quilt? Traditional quilts use different colors and shapes to make patterns. Watercolor quilts use the intensity of the colors and the values (light to dark) to create their patterns. The fabric is usually small squares or strips with brightly colored floral patterns. This post offers a brief description of how to design a watercolor quilt, it assumes that you already know how to make a quilt.

Step 1 - Designing

Start by drafting a design on paper. Since it's values that are important and not colors, you can use a pencil on graph paper. Make some areas dark, light, and medium in value. Figure out how many squares you'll need of each. Traditionally watercolor quilts are made of 2" x 2" squares. When sewn together with a 1/4" seam allowance, the final size of each square will be 1.5" x 1.5".  

Step 2 - Sorting
Organize your 2" x 2" squares into three piles: dark, medium and light. Darks usually have a background that is black or a very dark color with foreground colors that are very vivid and bold. Lights usually have a white or very light colored background with foreground colors that are pastel or muted. Sometimes it helps to have a "medium-dark" and "medium-light" pile.

Step 3 - Arranging
Arrange your dark, medium and light squares based on your design. Step back and look at it, then rearrange squares until they fit your design better. You can rotate the squares or even use the back sides if you like that better. This is sometimes the hardest part because I'll want to keep arranging and I have to make myself stop. 

Step 4 - Finishing

Piece together, quilt and bind.

Resources If you don't have lots of brightly colored floral fabrics, you can buy a set of 200 pre-cut 2" x 2" squares. You can also buy them in strips and fat quarters. A handy tool for making watercolor quilts using 2" squares is "Quilt Fuse," a fusbible webbing that has a 2" x 2" grid marked on it. Arrange your fabric on the Quilt Fuse using the grid, fuse them in place with an iron, then fold the rows over and sew a whole row at one time.

Here are some watercolor quilts that I designed and made: Watercolor Sunset, and Watercolor Swirl.

If you've made a watercolor quilt, please post a link to a photo of it in the comments section.

1 comment:

OliveStreetStudio said...

Thanks for the how-to. I wasn't sure what a watercolor quilt was, but now I know. And better yet, how to make one! :-)