New collage quilters … a lesson in looking at fabric motifs!


Quilters new to collage quilting look at a photo of a finished collage quilt and are sometimes confused! Just how did all that fabric make it onto the line drawing pattern? I thought it would be fun to take away the mystery. Believe me … you will never look at a piece of fabric in quite the same way ever again!

When you look closely at Moo-Shu, my panda art quilt, you will notice lots of light-colored flower fabric in her face and body. When planning the quilt, I asked myself … how do I make Moo-Shu’s face and body look like white fur? The answer … why with white orchids of course!

I actually used three colorways of the same fabric line from the Spring 2018 Kaffe Collective. From left to right in the first photograph, I used Kaffe’s Black Orchids, Cool Poppy Garden and Natural Orchids. The fabric actually comes in five colorways and all are quite beautiful. The coloring of the orchid petals in the different colorways have different shades of gray, and also beige, which added another color dimension to Moo-Shu’s “fur.”

After fusing larger pieces of these fabrics which contain all kinds of colorful flowers, I basically cut away the background around the flowers with my Karen Kay Buckley scissors (baby blue handles). I left some of the flowers large to be cut smaller later, if needed. Don’t be concerned when you get to the edge of the fabric and you don’t have a whole flower to cut away. I use smaller parts of flowers all the time to fill in a spot on the line drawing pattern. I saved all the colorful cut motifs that were not “white” orchids to be used on Moo-Shu … or for a future project.

I used a pansy fabric for parts of the face between Moo-Shu’s eyes down to her nose and mouth. There was lots of fussy-cutting since I was interested in just the pansies with purple around the edges. Again, I saved the other pansy motifs in other colors for future projects.

Once you understand the concept of cutting away the background on a piece of fabric, the possibilities are endless! Not only flowers … but novelty fabrics are so fun to cut up and tuck in a collage quilt. Motifs like cans of tuna, fish, butterflies, birds are often not noticed when standing back from a collage quilt. But look at all the fun things you can see up close. My grandkids, Jacob and Ben, had so much fun trying to find all the different things tucked into Moo-Shu.

If you are interested in purchasing a Moo-Shu pattern (full-size) with supply list and detailed instructions, head over to my Etsy shop! Stay tuned for future Collage Quilt hints and tips and new patterns!

4 thoughts on “New collage quilters … a lesson in looking at fabric motifs!

    • Hi Joan – I have recently taught a group of quilters at our church! We had so much fun! I made sure to craft my instructions to be very comprehensive and welcome questions. I’ve been quilting for almost 40 years and after I made my first collage quilt, I was hooked. If you decide to make Moo-Shu, I would LOVE to post a photo on my blog of your interpretation of the quilt! Regards, Dixie

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