Sunday, October 14, 2018

From Tree to Shining Tree (With 3 Tips)

In our last installment, I showed off a commissioned tree-themed quilt. Sending it to its new owner broke my heart! It also lacked buttons. So I rapidly made the following three quilts, each about 15" square. A winter tree:

An autumnal tree (or maybe a summer citrus?)
Can you find the bra clip?
 Next: Winter again? The trunk is white.
But the leaves are green, so let's call it early spring!
The trunk is Jane Austen text so I added a metal heart charm (the text below it says "heart is really attached")...
...and a squirrel from the cake-decorating store.
Want to make your own tree quilt? Two tips:
1. Practice is important, but I like my designs better if I don't draw them first - use scissors to cut trunks from paper. I grab every bit of junk mail and scrap paper in the vicinity to cut out practice trees. Below is a draft for last week's tree quilt, cut from the paper that comes with batting.
And here are two smaller trees cut from a double layer of an old Jo-Ann Fabrics fliers. 
2. To give fabric tree trunks extra dimension, back them with Decor Bond, a medium-weight fusible interfacing. A layer of DB isn't strong enough for, say, a fabric box, but it is thicker than interfacing you'd use for most garments. I pencil-traced my papercut trees onto DB's non-fusible side, rough cut it out (beyond the pencil borders), then pressed the fusible side to the back of the trunk fabric and cut out the two layers together along the pencil line. DB also controls fraying. I then used a glue stick to lightly attach the non-fusible DB side to the background fabric. In the squirrel picture above, you can see the slight but satisfying ridge that raises the trunk above the background. (No financial affiliation with DB.)

3. Combining batiks with prints is always a gamble. The immediate background for two of these tree quilt is a bunch of batik strips I sewed together a couple of years ago, in my Ann Brauer phase
If you want to combine batiks with prints, it's often better to choose prints that have a watery near-batik quality. The postage stamp print below was pretty watery. The button print and text print, not so much. 
As with almost every other decision in quilting, combining batiks and prints means auditioning things next to each other to see if they work!


  1. Are you planning a large tree quilt with these squares?

  2. No, Bobby, they're all freestanding and finished seperately.

  3. Thanks for the tips. I love the way they came out.

  4. They are so much fun. The buttons really add to it. I like your other tree quilt, but I like these more. Beautiful.

    1. Rena, that's just what I wanted to hear - I am virulently pro-button! Thank you!