Art Quilt Design: 5 Tips to Try

When I’m looking for inspiration for a new art quilt, I’m lucky to have a shelf stacked with magazines and books from my favorite art quilt instructors. I could spend hours perusing back issues of Quilting Arts, for instance, and have a million ideas for my next creative journey. I also have a deep appreciation for surface design, embellishment techniques, hand stitching, and embroidery. Those interests inform my fabric choices and design preferences. My stash of fabric, threads, and beads is enviable. Need a button? I have thousands. Interested in vintage sequins? I’ve got that covered, too.

But sometimes, despite all of the visual inspiration, I still need some guidance. And for that, I turn to experts in the field.

Carrie Bloomston on the set of Quilting Arts TV

Carrie Bloomston on the set of Quilting Arts TV.

Several years ago I had the opportunity to work with Carrie Bloomston on the set of Quilting Arts TV as she taped her incredibly informative video, “Art Techniques for Quilt Design: Drawing, Composition, Collage, and Stitch”. Carrie is an inspirational speaker and talented artist in addition to being a very successful fabric designer. But she also has a special gift: helping others to find their passions and reach their artistic goals. “My strength and value comes from my creative enabling,” she says, and it is true!

One of the interesting things I learned while working with Carrie was about drawing. Now, I’m not at all proficient in drawing and feel intimidated by even picking up a pencil for that purpose. But Carrie’s guidance was critical in helping me see the importance of drawing as a warm-up exercise as well as a tool for looking closely at the world around me. If you can draw an apple, you will notice its line, shape, and the shadow it casts. All of those components can be captured in an art quilt or with a collage. Being able to draw is the foundation for art.

Carrie Bloomston teaching art quilt design starting with drawing loops

Drawing large and simple loops is a great way to warm up!

Here are a few tips I gleaned from the taping:

1. Even simple drawing skills give you more confidence to express yourself and create your own designs.
2. Warm up by drawing large loops on the page. This also works while at the sewing machine if you prefer.
3. Set a time or your phone and limit the practice to 2 minutes. Do a series of 5 2-minute drawings.
4. Do not judge or criticize yourself while you work.
5. Quilting and drawing are connected. The more you can draw, the more you can begin to sew in an improvisational and off-the-trail way.

Close up of art quilt composition by Julie Golden

Quilt by Julie Golden featuring fabric designed by Carrie Bloomston.

Carrie had so many great tips and techniques that she gleaned at art school and generously shares with her viewers. Drawing was just the beginning! I love having a video at my fingertips so I can revisit a lesson or be inspired once again by an artist’s work. Check out the “Art Techniques for Quilt Design: Drawing, Composition, Collage, and Stitch” DVD and video download and more from our Quilting Arts Workshop series… you’re sure to find inspiration from every one!


Leave a Reply