Sunday, 11 January 2009

Paper Quilt tutorial

I have been asked to do a step by step tutorial for the paper quilts I have been making. These quilts are inspired by Beryl Taylor, and I would recommend her book - Mixed Media Embellishments - to anyone. Her work is much more detailed (and beautiful) than mine, and involves sewing, fabric, and more complicated techniques. I have simplified what Beryl does and translated it from mixed media to paper.

This is my favourite paper for making paper quilts with - it is smooth, heavy, and feels lovely. It also takes inks and paints beautifully, and holds up well to the quilt making process.

Unfortunately, I had run out of my favourite paper and didn't want to wait for mail order, so went looking for a substitute. this is what I found- it is the same weight, but not nearly as smooth, and doesn't take ink, colourwash sprays, or paint quite as well. It did hold up to the process, but it isn't as flexible as my favourite paper....

When I start to make a paper quilt, the first thing I do is decide on the colour. This particular paper quilt is going to be white - an unusual choice for me, as I love vivid colours. I don;t think I can cope with white without any contrasting colour, but I want this quilt to have a 'pure' quality which it would lose if I added a colour, so I have chosen to add touches of gold, which provides contrast and adds to the slightly 'holy' feel I am looking for - gold and white reminds me of churches...

Once I have decided on the colour scheme, I go through my supplies looking for all the bits and pieces I might be able to use. I am trying to use up scraps on these quilts, and long lost and forgotten embellishments, rather than buying anything new. I always end up with a large collection of possibilities, of which I will only use a little. Just getting it all out and looking at it always gets me thinking about how the quilt will look. Here are the things I spread on the table this time....

Brads & eyelets - if I had not almost run out of small round gold brads there would have been more of them on the finished quilt, but I only had 3!!!

Fabric flowers, beads and shells. At this point, I thought I would use the shells, but in the event, I didn't.

Some white picket fence (bought in the US in 2007), some fabrics, some white gauze, some handmade gauze 'paper', and some see through tissue type stuff with gold flecks in it.

A selection of buttons, punches, embossing powder, tags, grungeboard and a wooden stamp.

Some gold thread, pearl trim & ribbon.

A selection of ribbons, lace & trimmings, and some white sticky backed paper ribbon.

Some rubber stamps. I had begun to think I might want a 'harlequin' element in this quilt, so restricted myself to harlequins and some little tiles.

Some air dry clay embellishments and some little white satin flowers and butterflies.

So, I looked at all the supplies and contemplated things. And then I tore 2 sheets of paper out of the pad, and tore them up. I made a wide piece and a narrow piece. I tore very carefully and made sure the torn edges were showing on top of each piece.

I decided I wanted a fancy bottom to this quilt, so measured, drew, and cut a piece of paper the same width as the main section, with pointed scallops at the base.

I cut another piece of paper the same width as the quilt and tore the bottom edge, before running it through the Wizard in a harlequin cuttlebug folder (top left in the picture below). I cut 3 x 2 inch squares and ran those through the Wizard in the same folder (middle left) and finally ran my pointy scalloped edge piece through the Wizard in the tapestry/baroque cuttlebug folder (bottom left). I painted all my base and cut papers with white gesso, as I wanted a chalky finish to the quilt. I also chose two Paper Perfect castings from yesterday's marathon casting session, and painted them with white gesso (right hand side of picture).

I used a Versamark pen to go down the edges of my main and edge pieces, and gold embossed them, then stuck them together with double sided tape.

I gold embossed the torn edge of the top piece and the scalloped edge of the bottom piece, then stuck them to the quilt using double sided tape. I then added a touch of White Fire Treasure Gold to the raised areas of the embossing.

Now I started having fun. I tried various layouts, using the things I'd chosen from my stash. Sometimes this stage takes me quite a long time, sometimes it is quite quick. I never get an idea for the finished article from this, just a basic plan, a kind of framework or template for where I want the main elements to be. I work on the detail later in the process, once I have the framework sorted out. Here are a couple of layouts, which are very different from how the quilt turned out.

From the 2 layouts above, the only thing I really liked was the pearl trim covering the joint, and the elements I thought would go into the final quilt were the little squares at the top of layout 1, the shrine, and the buttons.

I looked at my punches and decided the quilt needed some little flowers, so I punched some out of gold vellum and also out of some baking paper which had caught some gold colourwash overspray.

I added the flowers to the sides of the quilt. If there is something I'd change about this quilt, it's the order in which I did some things - I should have added these flowers right at the end, as all the handling of the piece while I worked on it left these flowers less than perfect!

Then I decided the quilt needed some larger gold paper flowers and white beads at the bottom, and some buttons and gold beads at the top. I have some very fine gold coloured wire (from Rioja wine bottles!) which I used to attach these embellishments, but you could easily sew them on if you wanted. One thing I do is measure very carefully where I place things, and I make the holes in the paper with an awl before starting to attach anything - it makes the sewing or wire threading much easier.

Next, I decided to develop the little squares into slightly more attractive embellishments. Sorry the picture is so fuzzy, my Xmas present camera and I are still making friends. I took a square of the paper which had been run through the harlequin cuttlebug folder, painted with gesso and highlighted with Treasure Gold, a square of some sheer ribbon with a gold design painted onto it, a flower punched from pearlised card, and a small white brad. I punched a hole in the square, and used the brad to attach everything to the square and also to attach the embellishment to the quilt.

I took some more of the sheer and gold ribbon and cut it into strips about 1/4 inch deep and the width of the quilt. I laid one strip just above the pearl trim, and sewed some beads and sequins onto it, which also held it to the paper. The gaps between the sequins looked too bare, so I punched some little flowers from white paper and stuck those on top. Then I added the square embellishments.

I decided that my focal point was going to be a shrine. I had made the Paper Perfect cast using a shrine stamp, and painted it with white gesso, and highlighted with Treasure Gold. I found the perfect image on a Christmas card - an old painting of a mother & children. I gave it a coat of soft gel medium, then a second coat, at 90 degrees to the first. When it dries, you can see the brush marks, and it looks like canvas. If you gently rub Treasure Gold over it, the wax catches the high points. You can still see the image, but if you angle ti in the light, it all looks golden. It's hard to catch on photographs, but you'll get the general idea from the 2 pictures below.

Then I had another play with layouts, and liked the layout below enough to attach everything permanently.

When I was done, it still needed something, so I found a couple of german scrap shooting stars and added those. Here is the finished quilt.

It will be going to its new home in March. I hope the recipient likes it!!!


  1. WOW!!! Your paper quilt looks fan-blooming-tastic. Thanks so much for the tutorial, I'm definitely going to try to create one of these. I love the shrine stamp you have made the paper bellie from, who makes it. Way to go Adrienne!!! You rock.


  2. That is fantastic Adrienne,thanks for sharing!!

    Anne S

  3. Woah. I loved reading through this, through your process and multiple layout ideas. I have this book and I love everything Beryl makes. I am not much of a fabric person so seeing your version in paper form really inspires me. This is just beautiful (like all of them really). Thanks for detail and sharing with us.

  4. Wonderful, fantastic, brilliant!! Thank you for showing us how you make these paper quilts, I usually work in fabric but you have inspired me to consider all the possibilities of paper.

  5. Adrienne - this turned out fantastic!! I even "think" I know who it is going to :) Thank you so much for taking the time to do these step-by-step instructions.

  6. Thank your for sharing how you made this simply gorgeous piece of art.

  7. Thanks for sharing Adrienne - what a gorgeous result! I'm sure it'll be treasured... and I like your paper castings too. I had fun making some with kitchen roll last year!

  8. Absolutely fabulous! I love these quilts and it's great that you've posted a tutorial too - very generous of you.

  9. fab tute Adrienne, thank you!

    I think that's a lost coast shrine stamp? I have the full set of them, never thought of using them to make a paper cast, it looks great!

  10. Wow Adrienne, this is so fantastic and really wonderful tutorial, how lovely are you to share it!

  11. s tutorial is fabulous!!!! And so is the quilt!
    Thank you so much for taking the time to show the steps!!!
    I will use this idea for sure!

  12. AWESOME technique, Adrienne! Totally AWESOME!

  13. Wow, been looking back through your recent threads, what inspiration!






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