Quilting – In the Eye of the Beholder


When I was seven years old, our neighbor’s teenage daughter taught me how to play the piano. Of course, I soon wanted my own piano. With a mixture of excitement and nervousness, I approached my father with my request and received the standard reply: “We’ll see.” I never cared for that answer because at best it meant a long time delay, and at worst, that nothing would ever come of it.

So with my seven year old mind, I came up with a little game that I actually thought held some merit. Every day as I walked home from school, I would look up into the clouds and scan the sky for the form of a piano, believing that on the day that an ethereal piano appeared, a tangible piano would be delivered to my house. Oh, to be seven again. I don’t remember ever seeing my cloud-piano, but the real thing did finally arrive one day.

I tell you this little story because I applied the same childlike vision to the batik fabric for this quilt. After cutting the fabric to size, I then studied the surface to see if any forms popped out that could be used as a basis for real objects. The most obvious forms were those of leaves, something the designer had planned. However, two unplanned forms also appeared: a butterfly and a humming bird.

Butterfly Form

Hummingbird Form

This same eye exercise can be used on hand-dyed and hand-painted fabrics. Wonderful shapes sometime appear that can be used as main themes or sub-themes in your quilts.

I began this project by stabilizing the fabric with Decor Bond. I then outlined with pencil the somewhat nebulous leaf forms printed on the fabric.

Pencil Outline

Next, I gathered all the thread colors I thought I might use to outline and free-motion embroider the surface designs. (I used Valdani cotton thread.) After thread outlining all the leaves, I began working on the leaf veins, using multiple colors.

Leaf Outlined with Thread

Then I lightly embroidered each leaf, using whatever pattern came to mind at the moment.

For the hummingbird and butterfly forms, I thread outlined the bodies and then did some simple fills. For example, I used a small feather design in the hummingbird’s wing area. I also gave him a ruby throat. The butterfly received some spots, more definition in the wing area, and antennae.

Hummingbird and Butterfly

The idea for this quilt actually came to me while experimenting at the Embellisher. Testing various fabric and fiber mixtures, I developed a technique that I call “shadow felting.” I was so pleased with the results that I decided to make a quilt to showcase my new discovery. Of course, I will share the technique with all of you in part two.


N. Rene West
Time Treasured


  1. March 9, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    Beautiful! I love batiks.

  2. Joanna said,

    March 9, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    What a great idea! I love that you used childlike qualities to obtain your results. Thanks for all the inspiration! I am part of SurfaceDesign on yahoo groups and this sounds like such a great idea for a postcard trade. Thank you for all your tutorials. You share such great information.


  3. Lori said,

    March 9, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    That is so beautiful. You have such talent.

  4. fembellish said,

    March 10, 2007 at 6:58 am

    I always receive such a boost of creative energy from my readers’ kind comments. Thanks to all of you for such high praise. I hope I can live up to just a little of it!

  5. Dianne said,

    March 10, 2007 at 7:04 am

    This is just beautiful, and I love the story which inspired it!

  6. Micki said,

    March 10, 2007 at 10:17 am

    Thank you for sharing your childhood story and the quiltlet is very beautiful.

  7. Julie said,

    March 11, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    beautiful ethereal quilt! Love love love…smile

  8. October 26, 2008 at 10:24 am

    […] mit dem Embellisher verziert – Teil 1 – Teil […]

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