Color on Quilts

As I go through quilting magazines, I see lots of ideas I want to try.  I get as far as pulling out the inspiring articles and filing them in one of my numerous notebooks.  I tell myself that one day I will go through the notebooks and try every single technique in them, but usually, the ideas languish in the notebooks.

But the August/September Quilting Arts magazine had a technique I had to try immediately.  There’s an article called “From Sketch to Stitch to Color” by Ana Buzzalino, about using Inktense watercolor pencils on fabric. Buzzalino creates small wholecloth quilts on muslin, and then colors just a few areas.  Since I actually had a tin of Inktense pencils on hand, I tried the technique within just days of reading about it.

butterfly on zinnia

This is the photo I started from.  Not the prettiest butterfly in the world, but I loved that orange zinnia.


Here is a very basic stitched outline on muslin.

Dry pencil on muslin.

Dry pencil on muslin.

I painted over the colors with glazing medium.

I painted over the colors with glazing medium.  You are supposed to use textile medium but I couldn’t find any in the house.

when everything was dry, I added more stitching.

When everything was dry, I added more stitching.  The painted area was easy to stitch through.

The next day, I reworked the colors, dipping the pencils in water.

The next day, I reworked the colors, dipping the pencils in water.  The glazing medium made the fabric stiff, suitable only for wall pieces.

The brown butterfly is kind of a dead spot, but I do like the blending and swirls in the flower and green background area. ( I might could save this piece with sequins or something covering up the butterfly, but it is just practice.)   Working on the piece gave me more ideas.  I wondered if I could use the pencils to color in tiny areas within free motion quilting patterns, to make it look like I was awesome at piecing!  I also wanted to try some watercolor effects.  And another quilter in my quilt group had shown us a “herky-jerky” outline stitch with applique, to add a sketchy effect, so I wanted to see how that would look with the Inktense colors too.

Also by this time I had found my one little bottle of textile medium.  (It was in a Tupperware container up by the spare flashlights and extension cords in the pantry, just in case you’re curious. Or thinking to yourself, “Where is my textile medium?”)  So I wanted to apply that instead of glazing medium, and see how that worked.

I wanted to try some other effects.

I wanted to try some other effects.

All colored in.

Tiny faux piecing on the upper left, watercolor effect on the upper right, and your standard apple, with “herky-jerky” outlining, on the bottom right.

I really had fun with the apple – I don’t know if you remember those old painting shows on PBS, with some German gentleman who would turn out a landscape in 30 minutes, but that is where I learned how to paint an apple!

I did have trouble with the tiny spaces in the swirly design – I don’t think I would be able to fool someone into thinking I actually pieced that.  But it was worth a try.  I do like the watercolor effects in the pebble quilting, and I could use that apple on some 50s style kitchen textiles.  The textile medium made a huge difference, and the fabric is pretty soft.

I had so much fun with this!  If it looks like a fun technique to you, I would encourage you to look at that issue of Quilting Arts.  Buzzalino’s examples are gorgeous.  In every issue, the contributors are so creative, and so generous about sharing their techniques and tips.