Embellishing Landscape Quilts – Paint, Beads, Etc; Finishing the Mini: Part 6


Embellishing Landscape Quilts can change the overall feel…

This weekend I posted a video finishing my large After White Sulfur wall hanging which I have been making on YouTube for some months. In that video I add gray metallic paint splatter and beading to the faint green mid-ground area and add orange satin-stitching in the white parts of the sky.

Embellishing landscape quilts is not only fun, but it is a practical way to add life and depth to parts of a quilt that could use a little oomph.

My mini-landscape quilt embellishments will be similar to those seen in that video: Splatter Paint, Bead, Satin Stitch | Part 9 Landscape Quilting Tutorial. Again, this mini-landscape tutorial is not intended to replace the video, but to shrink the project to a more manageable size and cover a few issues beyond the scope of the video.

BEFORE & AFTER PICS for the larger piece

Some specialized tools/materials: arranged clockwise, more or less:

Not an exhaustive list, here are some favorites. They work well, but better brands may exist.

Jacquard Textile Paint and Jacquard Lumiere Light Body Metallic Acrylic—craft paint for fabric would work too.
Thread Heaven
—I usually forget to use this, but threading the needle is a little easier, and tangles are fewer when I do.
Lint roller—best deal at Costco, when they are in stock.
Lots of light—I love to bead in direct sunlight, but at night I wear an LED light around my neck. Mine is called a Beam N Read, and you can check it out here on this link to Amazon: Beam n Read LED 6 Hands-Free Task Light.
Beading needles—size 10 works well, but they end up bent.
Nymo thread—nylon monofilament beading thread is much stronger than all-purpose sewing thread.
Bent tip embroidery scissors—I can’t function without them.
Glass beads of all shapes and sizes
—watch sharp ones—they can shred thread and scrape you.
Vellux blanket piece (under everything else) or other non-slip surface—to reduce bead “runaway.”


Here I use the same two types of fabric paint as in the video, this time in yellow and metallic gold. If this doesn’t makes sense, please check out the video. The time stamps under the video function like a table of contents, so you can click right to a topic of interest. The images below will enlarge quite a bit if you click through them.

1a) In conducting a blah bead audition, I discovered that I really wanted to add more yellow—to pick up both the bright yellow in the mountains and the light yellow in the tree. I had some bright yellow seed beads, but I wanted a dramatic transformation of the batik fabric, which has a distinct, repeating white flower in the pattern.

1b) Recreate the boundary of the area in question with paper and tape to protect the mini-landscape quilt as well as your work area from errant splatter. This is a little fussy but easy to do by lifting the paper to see the quilt and then drawing the boundary in stages. Once cut out, you can extend the paper with tape as needed. I just tape the fabric to do this as shown in the next picture. Notice that the tree trunk itself is covered with tape.

1c) I brighten up metallic gold paint with clear yellow and add enough water to make it pretty drippy. Even so, it should look and behave more like paint than lemonade! Take a minute to experiment on paper before working on your piece. Experiment hitting the paint-loaded brush from above. Then switch the brushes and try hitting your other brush with the paint-loaded brush. Here I apply mine, creating sloppy splatters, not the distinct dots that I added to the bigger wall hanging. I like the sloppy spatter on the mini quite a lot!

1d) You can no longer see the white flower shapes. This makes me think of the open fields of Alpine wildflowers. I am imaging beading that brings to mind showy hills of red Paint Brush, white Bear Grass, blue Forget-Me-Nots, purple Larkspur, and yellow Columbine.

STEP 2 – ADD BEADING to taste

Initially I plan on mixing the colored beads uniformly across the splattered area, but after a quick test, I decide to make swaths of color, as if the blooms are growing in drifts. I work to make the placement appear random, as flowers would be in nature.

2a) I didn’t actually dislike the batik area that I splattered. But because I wanted to add “flowers” and because this is a tutorial on embellishing landscape quilts, I wanted to focus on one area and transform it completely. So I looked through my beads, imaging what they might add. Also, I hadn’t yet decided what to do with the yellow areas on the tree. So while I was at it, I found some nice brown and amber beads that I might use in those areas. 

2b) Beading always takes time, but with a comfortable seat and a cup of tea, it can be quality time. You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t enjoy working with your hands. The older I get, the more I enjoy this kind of work. Plus I usually do it while my husband and I watch t.v. I try to put in a double knot every 4 or 5 beads, and I hide all my knots in the quilt sandwich or inside a bead as I work.


4a) After adding the beads, I want to add a little more red, so I decide to free-motion quilt the yellow on the tree to justify the red beading. 

4b) I hop from area to area quickly and then cut off all the connecting threads. This is sloppy looking, but I will only fix it if I decide to sell it.


5a) Heat set paint as sson as your drying time has elapsed!! And always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Mine needs 24 hours to time and then my hottest iron applied for 30 seconds with no steam. You only need to accidentally wash your design out once or twice before you take this very seriously!

5b) Here are videos on making hanging sleeves and lath: I am not a fan of dowels or rings for hanging wall art. Dowels hang on nails in a way that I find makeshift, and rings concentrate the stress of gravity on too small an area to avoid long term sagging of fiber work.

CAUTION: Always sew your sleeve on last if you are planning to machine stitch the part of the quilt where it goes. I rarely add stitching to the top few inches. But if I did so carelessly, I would sew my sleeve closed!

Hanging Sleeve for Irregular Bindings | ZSA video tutorial
This is an 11-minute video.
Any reasonable sleeve will work. Again, my hanging sleeves are designed for artwork that I sell directly to the public so that the quilt will hang as neatly as possible in someone’s home or office. My sleeves are intended to make hanging simple and fool-proof.

Competition and quilt show sleeves must be constructed to their official specifications.

Easy Hanging Lath | ZSA video tutorial
This video is 5 minutes.
I made my first sticks, but Frank always makes them for me now. I think he likes to keep me out of the woodworking area so I won’t start organizing it. Also, it is a nice ritual when I tell him that one or several pieces need sticks. Of course this little piece could use a much smaller stick, like screen molding, and a smaller sleeve to go with it.


5c) Don’t over do this. If you really don’t like raw-edges, no amount of trimming will make this aesthetically pleasing to you. Trimming too close is a no-no.

STEP 6 – TAKE STOCK – The good, the bad, and the ugly

Would I change anything? Not really. I would certainly finesse certain parts a little differently if I made more. And I might still add red beads to the yellow areas on the tree, which would have benefited from using variegated thread. I may also paint gold in the shapes on the binding at some point. But this was a good exercise and is a cute little landscape. It is a size I have never tried before except for my quilted trivets. I could see it looking smart in someone’s little hallway, or in a comfy reading nook somewhere.



Zazu’s Pro Sewing Hacks

Here are all the pro sewing hack videos I have on YouTube. Please check them out if you haven’t had a chance. They are also available on YouTube on my Pro Sewing Hacks Playlist. Click a thumbnail and that video will open in another window.

Go from Homemade to Handmade

#1-12 Pro Sewing Hacks

Uploaded just 15 days after I created my YouTube channel, this is the video that started it all. Here I present a baker’s dozen of the most useful tools I have incorporated into my work over the years. Whether it is a large stock of extra bobbins, specialty threads (that fuse with heat or wash-away), or a sharp seam ripper, these hacks will help take your work from looking homemade, to looking handmade.

#13 Chain Everything

#14 No Pins–Mitered Hems

#15 Improved Topstitching

#16 Free-Motion Hopping

#17 4-Pin Fusible Thread Quilt Binding

#18 Simple, Handy Rice Funnel

#19 Hide Your Serger Tails

#20 Clothespins in the Sewing Room

#21 Prop Your Foot

#22 Painter’s Tape for REA

#23 Hand Sewing Beyond Basics

#24 Easy Cut Stencils

#25 Why a Bead Spinner?

#26 Easy Lath Hanger

#27 Wall Art Sleeve

#28 Fiber Art Thumbnails


Mini-landscape Quilt Tutorial, Plan & Add Tree: Part 4

My mini-landscape quilt with the tree added. It’s pretty cute. I like it.

If you watched my last YouTube video, Free-Motion Quilt Midground | Part 5 Landscape Quilting Tutorial, you know that after quilting the background of that larger work, I realized (and my husband agrees) that the quilt doesn’t really need the tree and other foreground elements that I was planning to add.aws5

While that question is still up in the air, I have decided to add a tree to this piece now. While I like my little landscape quite a bit, I feel that the various elements do not visually cue the subject matter quickly enough. I am hoping the strong tree element will say immediately: mini-landscape quilt to whoever sees it.

A Word About Composition—apart from the subject matter of a work of art, composition has to do with the arrangement of your elements. Good composition generally seeks qualities like balance, unity, rhythm, contrast, movement, etc. Personally, I tend to experiment with the shapes in my pieces  and tune into my emotional responses, because when a design works, we feel it. But terms like rhythm do help us describe what is happening in a piece, as well as describe why we think we are reacting the way we are.

If you have never taken an art class or spent much time visiting galleries and museums, you might enjoy reading up on the elements of composition, the rule of thirds, and related topics. Then spend some time looking at art you like and see if you can put words to the qualities that speak to you. This process will feed your confidence and empower your artistic voice as you work on your own fiber art. It will also help you understand better what you are doing when you decide to be a renegade and try to create successful pieces in opposition to accepted principles of good design. 

STEP ONE: Study Your Elements  

Consider spending a few minutes out on the street taking a few inspirational shots of trees you like, or go through your photos looking for ideas. Consider how a tree looks when you crop a panoramic view down to just the area of your current project with a strong, sculptural tree trunk—with or without branches, leaves, or even pine cones—in the foreground. I’ve included some sample photos here. Most of these images will enlarge a little if you click them.

I tend to photograph the tree trunks intuitively the way I want to use them, but you can also crop a tree down to an area of interest and layer it over your background. I have indicated in aqua and orange two ways that you could use the trees in one of the photos. And of course you can also quilt an imaginary tree. 

So this is what I do. I was immediately smitten with the tree below. But the houses, and the concrete and the SUV had to go. In this case, I used two layers of white fabric, to diminish show-through of my background. I also used grey scraps stitched with teal thread. I embellished the tree trunk with teal seed beads after binding. Are you thinking of ideas for quilts you want to make?

If you become an avid landscape quilter, you will likely find yourself stopping to photograph little bits of interest everywhere. Luckily, it is easier than we ever could have imagined to always have a camera Read More …