A Beautiful Mess

abeautifulmess.com · Jul 10, 2014

DIY Quilted Modern Art

Hi, guys and gals! It's Mandi here. Quilts are a great way to add a graphic, handmade look to a bedroom, but what about in the living room? I've been wanting to add a quilted touch to the other rooms in our home, but there are only so many quilted pillows you can throw on a sofa before reaching crazy-old-lady status, and I wasn't loving the look of hanging quilts on our leaning ladder for display. Again, too granny.

After mulling over my quilt inspiration, and having always been an admirer of Ethan Cook's, I thought I'd make my own graphic quilt and mount it on the wall as modern art. I completed this project in one day, and it makes such an impact in our living room! Check out how I did it below.

-fabric (I used muslin and a mustard yellow linen)
-lightweight batting sheet

-sewing machine
-safety pins
-staple gun
-fabric scissors
-craft blade (optional)
-painter's tape (optional)

Step One: Cut out your base fabric to be about 5" wider than your stretcher frame. Then cut out the pieces that you want to applique over top of it. Keep in mind that you will lose about 1" around the edge of the applique pieces from the next step. I cut my rectangles to be a bit wavy around the edges to add a quirky look, rather than making perfectly straight edges. I liked that the rectangles in Ethan Cook's art aren''t perfectly straight, and wanted the same kind of vibe for my own.

Helpful Tip: You may find it helpful to sketch out your design before committing the scissors to your fabric.

Step Two: Turn down a 1/2" edge around the border of the applique pieces and iron it crisp.

Step Three: Pin the ironed applique shapes into place as shown above.

Step Four: Sew the applique pieces into place, sewing closely along the edge of each one.

Step Five: Draw the quilting lines onto the finished quilt top. I used a T-square and drew vertical lines on the background, and horizontal lines on the applique pieces. I made the distance between the lines to be the width of the T-square, because it made drawing the lines easier.

Step Six: Sandwich the sheet of batting between the quilt top and a sheet of muslin. Each of these layers should be perfectly stretched out and wrinkle free. I used painter's tape to stretch out each layer to make sure they were perfectly smooth.

Step Seven: Use safety pins across the surface of the quilt to attach all three layers together. This will keep the fabric in place and will help prevent sewn-in creases from forming while sewing.

Step Eight: Stitch on top of the drawn lines with a wide stitch. If you want to hand stitch the quilt lines—be my guest! I thought about it for a second, but thinking about it exhausted my entire quota of patience.

Helpful Tip: Start at the top middle of the quilt. Sew from the top to the bottom in the same direction for every line. This will prevent the fabric from bunching unequally. I sewed from the middle to the right about halfway, then from the middle to the left halfway, and then I repositioned the safety pins because the fabric had shifted a bit as I sewed. Then I finished each edge before moving on to each applique piece. After sewing, I pulled the fabric strings through to the back of the quilt.

Step Nine: Use clamps to stretch the finished quilt tightly around the stretcher frame. Staple the fabric along the rounded edge of the back of the stretchers.

Step Ten: To finish the corners, pull in the corner of the fabric, then pull in each side of the corner. After stapling all around the edge of the frame, you can use a blade to cut off the excess fabric about 1/8" from the staple line.

I finished my quilt art with a simple framing technique that I'll share soon. You could also leave it unframed. This project is completely customizable to whatever shape of style you like, and you don't have to use it as art—it would make a nice headboard too! -Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Spring and Valentine of the Signature Collection.

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