Mini Landscape Quilting: Artistic (Free-Motion Quilt) Binding: Part 5

Landscape quilting in miniature

Landscape quilting mini with two fabrics turned to form a raw-edge applique binding

My mini landscape quilt binding will be a smaller, but more detailed and artistic version of the larger quilt binding that I did in my last video on YouTube: Free-Motion Quilt Binding & Fix Flaws | Part 7 Landscape Quilting Tutorial. landscapr-part-7bAgain, this tutorial is not intended to replace the video, but to shrink the project to a more manageable size, as well as cover a few issues beyond the scope of the video.

At the same time, at this miniature size, I am able to show you a more complex and artistic binding that can be achieved using more than one layer of fabric. Taken to the extreme, this technique allows you to integrate the edge of your design with the face of any raw-edge appliqué project. And so to switch things up on this mini, I’ll scissor cut both my perimeter and binding fabric, and then incorporate two layers for an irregular and artistic binding that “frames” my little quilt.

STEP ONE: Prepare for binding

Photo a) Wash and dry your piece by machine. Washing and drying relaxes and shrinks the materials, resulting in a quilt that has a visually rich texture.

Photo b) Press piece from behind with a lot of steam. Then trim and clean away the fray with curved embroidery scissors and a lint roller so you can see what you have to work with.

Photo c) Trim the perimeter with scissors to create an irregular shape. It is critical to make this appear deliberate. Otherwise it will just seem sloppy. A few good notches on the sides and angling near the corners is usually enough to accomplish this. Avoid sharp inside corners for now.

Photo d) Cut 1 or 2 layers of fabric and layer them as shown. Please start with one layer on your first project. Place the wrong side of your quilt against the right side of your binding(s). At this size, I like to cut my fabric larger than my piece by up to an inch or so (as shown) and forgo pinning. Please do whatever makes you feel comfortable. For larger work, I would scissor cut my piece and binding fabrics all irregularly to match each other and then pin them like in the video.

STEP TWO: Bind Mini Landscape Quilt

Photo e) Stitch around piece between 1/8-inch and 3/16-inch from the edge of your piece with a tight stitch length (2 mm or 12 stitches/inch or less). Stitch around a second time. I do mean TWICE. This creates a much more stable edge that won’t pull apart.

Photo f) Carefully trim close to the stitched edge leaving an 1/8-inch seam allowance beyond the stitching. I like to do this with the binding Read More …


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 …


Mini-landscape Quilt, Mountains & Sky: Part 3


Mini-landscape Quilt, Mountains & Sky: Part 3

landscapr-part-4Now let’s free-motion quilt (FMQ) the mountains, sky, and foreground of our 12 x 12-inch mini-landscape quilt. I covered the mountains and the sky for the poster-size version of this project in my last video, Connect Mountains to Sky | Part 4 Landscape Quilting Tutorial. This is a simplified version of the raw-edge applique landscape quilt series on my channel, Zazu’s Stitch Art on YouTube.

Reminder: it is easy to neglect your tension while free-motion quiltingTension can change for the worse each time you start up in a new location, re-thread the machine, change your bobbin, etc. Feel the stitching under your quilt without looking at it and then turn it over. You will get so you can tell with your fingertips, with the work still in the machine, if something isn’t right. Then you can get a look at what is going on…

STEP ONE: Free-motion quilt and satin-stitch the mountains. I highly recommend looking at mountains you like and then drawing an outline of the mountains on your fabric with chalk or wash-away marker. Or wing it and hope for the best. I do that a lot now. In the beginning, I referred to pictures constantly and drew everything first. (I stitched these on the fly.) Notice that the mountains are not too straight along the bottom.

I used black thread. I knew that making this bright iris fabric work as purple mountains would be a challenge. The kind of challenge that I enjoy setting for myself. (You can decide for yourself whether I pulled it off.) Whenever I am trying to obscure a strong print with stitching, I go for the highest color contrast possible between thread and fabric, sometimes even resorting to heavyweight fibers, and techniques like couching, bobbin-drawing, or artistic and strategic (“wonky”) satin-stitching.

STEP TWO: Free-motion quilt the sky and foreground. All our overlaps have been dealt with, so anything goes… Just have fun and contrast your colors… Click this image to see the details…I know it isn’t perfect…

This was pretty easy…and now we are a step ahead of the videos. We will add our interest (maybe a tree, fence, or stump) concurrent with the large raw-edge landscape we are making in the video project.


A fabric like these irises is pretty risky in a landscape quilt. I’d love to hear your opinion on whether or not the mountains work in this funny little piece…

So please leave me a comment…Beth – Zazu