How to Make Story Quilts
Tell a Story with a Quilt
A story quilt is an art quilt that tells a story that is obvious to anyone who is viewing it. It can be used to tell stories to children at nighttime or to leave a legacy for future generations. It can be used to make a political message, share a part of history, or share your values. It can also tell a joke or funny story.
What Kinds of Stories are In Quilts?
There are stories all around us - stories from the news, funny things our kids or pets said or did, stories from folk tales, stories we watch at the movies or read in books. Any of these stories can be told in a quilt. You can choose one story to tell, or combine several into one quilt.
You even can make up your own story, for example, of your child's encounter with her favorite character from television. Imagine sharing your favorite stories from the Bible with your grandchildren on a quilt. You have a great visual to show the kids while they learn valuable lessons. How about the story of the family memorialized in a quilt for future generations.
Memory quilts often use fabric that has been used by a loved one. A quilt can be made from overgrown baby clothes, or t-shirts a graduate has used while she was in school. Ties a retiree has used throughout his career also make great material for quilts. The story in these quilts, unfortunately, only last as long as there is someone to remember the history of the fabric, unless the information is written on the back of the quilt.
Another option for memory quilts is to portray a memory or a sense of the person through the use of motifs and words to tell a particular story. You can use the special fabric that has been used by the loved one, or purchase fabric to go with the story.
Story Quilts on Amazon
How to Make a Story Quilt
There are many ways to tell your story in a quilt. While it is possible to buy patterns for some story quilts, I enjoy designing my own. The stories I want to take are more personal, and a lot of the enjoyment in making them is from the design process.
The first step in making a story quilt is to choose the story. Think of the details you want to share in the quilt. You can opt to tell the story or stories in one piece, or make different blocks to tell a number of stories.
Next, think about what motifs are necessary to tell the story. You can draw them free hand, but don't worry if you can't draw. You can find simple motifs from coloring books, images on the internet, use photographs, or find fabric that has the motifs you would like to use. There are also many websites and books that specifically show you how to make story quilts.
Think about the setting for the story. You may want to add fun little details that will really get the story across and add more depth to the story.
Once you have chosen your story and the motifs that are necessary, you can choose the techniques you want to use. Most quilters will use a combination of these techniques.
Fabric Choice for Story Quilts
Fabric choice is an important consideration since it sets the mood of the quilt as well as providing a medium for the story. Fabric from clothing that has been used by family members will bring back memories in a historic quilt.
Fabric can also be used to portray a sense of location. For example, if your character is outside on a clear day, blue fabric can be used as a background to represent the sky. Fabric that has been printed with clouds on it can be used for even more realism.
Color choice is also important. Bright colors will make a cheerful and lively quilt, while toned down colors will add to a sense of nostalgia.
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Photo Transfer in Story Quilts
If you have photographs of your subject, photo transfer is an effective way to add them to your quilt. You can press some fabric on some freezer paper and print your photograph on it using an inkjet printer. To make sure that the photo will not wash away, press it to set the ink with heat.
Photo transfer is also useful for words. You can print a poem, quotation, story, or whatever words you want to add from a word processing program using a font and frame as you desire, then print that on the fabric for use in your quilt.
Fabric that has been pretreated specifically for photo transfer is available for purchase. In addition, if you want to use your own fabric, you can purchase paper that is treated for that you can then apply to your t-shirts or other fabric. photo transfer
Words in Story Quilts
A common way to make sure that your story is properly conveyed is to use words. These words can be added to the quilt using a variety of techniques. They can be written on a quilt using a fabric marker, they can be painted using fabric paint. They can be embroidered by hand or using an embroidery machine. They can be created on the computer using a word processing, scrapbook or photo program and printed using an inkjet fabric on fabric that has been prepared fabric. They can also be pieced as shown in the photo below.
Most quilters like to limit the number of words they use so they can make the quilt more striking with visual images.
Appliqué in Story Quilts
Appliqué is frequently used to tell a story. It can be used in many ways to convey the action and characters.
For example, you may decide that you need a horse in the story. You can consider buying fabric that has a horse printed on it. You can then use the whole piece, or cut out the horse and appliqué it to your background fabric. Alternatively, you can draw your own horse and cut out the pieces to appliqué on a background fabric. Or you can use a photograph you have and transfer it to fabric, and then appliqué that to the background.
Embroidery and Embellishments in Story Quilts
Embroidery is often used to embellish a story quilt. It can be used to add beautiful designs on the seams, add words and dates, as well as motifs that help tell the story. The embroidery can be done by hand, by a regular sewing machine, or an embroidery machine. Some stores also offer motifs that have been embroidered that can be attached to a quilt using an adhesive.
Story quilts can also include embellishments to help tell the story. Items like buttons used in clothing, patches earned in Girl Scouts or the military, pins representing community service, and pieces of jewelry can all be added to help show the history of a loved one.
The crazy quilt below shows a variety of names and a few motifs that have been added using embroidery.
Story quilts are a unique art form since most of them are created by the designer to tell the story, and don't lend themselves to be mass produced. They can be serious or humorous, bold or subdued. The choice of the fabric, color, and the choice of techniques can tell us a lot about the designer and maker as well as the story that the quilt is intended to tell.
© 2012 Shasta Matova