Painted Quilt Canvases

Discover Nanette S. Zeller’s method of creating and using free-motion quilt “canvases”. Utilizing lightweight muslin and leftover fabric scraps in lieu of a stretched canvas, she gessos her quilted canvas to ready it for surface design. Learn how she uses this method to create the innovative background on her art quilt “Surveillance Drone” shown above.

About this Quilt

Designed By : Nanette S. Zeller

“Shortly after starting my quilting journey, I began exploring mixed-media art. I spent a lot of time experimenting with acrylic paints and surface design. At some point, it occurred to me that since an artist’s canvas was just heavy fabric, why couldn’t I just paint a quilt with acrylics. I tried it and I found out I could.” – Nanette S. Zeller


  • Lightweight, cotton fabric (white muslin works great)
  • Fabric scraps
  • Low- or mid-loft quilt batting, 1″–2″ larger than muslin
  • Backing fabric, 1″–2″ larger than muslin
  • Binding fabric
  • Basting spray
  • Glue stick
  • Stiletto or chopstick
  • Gesso
  • Acrylic paints
  • Small sponge paint roller
  • 2″–3″-wide house paint brush
  • Small paintbrush or old toothbrush

Explore Nanette’s Painted Quilt Canvas technique and more art quilting inspiration in the February/March 2018 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine.

Pick up your copy of Quilting Arts Magazine for art quilting tips and tutorials!