Saturday, October 29, 2016

"Love, Charlie". How to Adapt a Child's Artwork for Applique Quilting

The Background Story
"Love, Charlie" is the first little quilt I've based on a piece of child's art. I had so much fun, and the resulting mug rug is one of my very, very favorites. I do hope it won't be the last piece to be inspired by a child.

Two years ago, Charlie made this painting in his art class. This lovely boy is the very talented son of one of my daughter's coworkers. I've sort adopted the family, and I designed the Tooth Fairy Pillow for Charlie when he lost his first tooth.

The Process

Step 1: Make a photocopy of the section of the artwork you want to use. Reduce or enlarge it to fit the size you need for your quilt.

The painting is greatly simplified, but it is definitely recognizable, and it retains much of the flavor of the original.
Step 2: Use a light table or a sunny window to trace a simple outline of the drawing onto paper. Working with fabric is quite a bit different than working with paints or a crayon.The artwork will more than likely need simplification and a bit of reshaping. The antlers were too skinny for fabric pieces, so I enlarged them and rounded them out. I eliminated some details.The black outline of the deer's head and the little white accents on the nose and ears were some of the details that I left out. The mouth ran into the chin, so I changed the shape just a bit.

Step 3: Back to the light table or the window. Flip the original drawing upside down and trace it onto a fresh sheet of paper. This will give you applique shapes that are already reversed and ready to use.

Step 4: Make dotted lines to show the overlap of the different pieces you'll need to cut for the appliques.

Step 5: Trace all the pieces you'll need onto a piece of paper or card stock and label them. You can trace them onto the paper side of your fusible web for quick fuse applique from here. This also works with freezer paper for turned applique.

Step 6: This step is optional. I always draw my pieces on card stock so that I can cut them out for tracing onto my fusible web. In this way, I know that I can make numerous identical copies of my pattern very quickly.

Finishing Touches

I embroidered the mouth, nose and eyes.

And finally, I embroidered a message to Santa. This wasn't part of the original painting at all, but when I looked at that little deer's face with those big eyes and that quirky smile, I knew this little guy wanted something.

What a blast! I do play and enjoy myself in my sewing room, but this was the most fun I've had in weeks. Charlie's deer was the lighthearted and very sweet pick-me-up that I've been needing.

I'd like to play around with other children's artwork to see how they might turn out. If you'd like to send me photos of your favorite child's drawing, I can see if anything else might adapt as nicely to applique as Charlie's deer did. No promises for using your photo, but I'll definitely respond to all emails.

Send photos to my email:

Happy Last Weekend of October! 

October Halloween.