Mar 22, 2024

Collage Quilting by Cassie Cartmell

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Collage Quilting by Cassie Cartmell

Join Baby Lock Educator Cassie Cartmell as she shares her collage quilting process using her Baby Lock Soprano. If you try this technique yourself, please tag us and Cassie on our social media channels for a chance to be featured by Baby Lock!



I’ve been sewing for quite a while and throughout the years I’ve changed from garment sewing, to bag-making, to quilting- and I think I’ve finally found a passion in collage quilting. I’ve tried traditional quilting, and there was something lacking for me: the chance to put my own creative spin on it. I used to always love applique, so collage quilting was taking that to the next level.

Collage quilting is a captivating and artistic approach to creating quilts. Instead of traditional piecing, where you assemble blocks, collage quilting involves layering small pieces of fabric to form intricate designs. 



In collage quilting, you start with a foundation fabric, usually a neutral color. This fabric serves as the base for your design. For this design, I decided to dye my fabrics. I use RIT Dyes; one of the things I like about their dyes is on the website they provide you with the recipe for the different colors you can create using their different dyes.

The reason that I dye the fabrics myself is because I want the same weave from the fabric and be able to control the tones of the fabric colors. It’s incredibly hard to do this if you purchase fabric from a store because even if you find the same exact color, the weave of the fabrics will be different.

I produce my design from either a picture I’ve drawn or a photograph I’ve taken. If I’ve used a photograph, I have to draw over the entire piece using a black sharpie. This is because the photograph is way too busy to use as is. For this part I will use tracing paper so I have a nice clean design to continue to work with.

Once I have traced out my design, I will flip it over. If I don't, all my pieces will be reversed as I once again need to trace out all these sections individually.

For this part, I will use heat and bond to trace all the pieces I need and I also prepare my main fabric so it’s ready to go. For the background of this piece, I went with a blue color. I will also trace this design onto the fabric, and because the background was dark, I used a silver sharpie for this. Now I know where each of my pieces will be placed!



From this point, it's basically cutting the pieces and making up the picture.

I’m not rigid with the design- if there are sections that need to be bigger, I make them bigger if there is something extra, I want to add I add it. I let the design grow organically.

Once the collage is complete, I’ll place some batting behind the top layer, but I don’t add a backing at this point. I don’t want my thread sketching to appear on the back. I go around all the pieces I want to highlight making the piece look like it is sketched out like a pen. I’ll go over about three times.

This is what the piece looks like before.

I will use a frixion pen to make faint lines for where I’ll be sketching the design out.

This is what it looks like after, now the thread sketching is complete.

I use my Babylock Soprano to thread sketch.

Thread sketching is like free motion quilting where you drop down your feed dogs; the difference being thread sketching is much more freeing.  I recommend trying this technique if you would like to get into free motion quilting. It’s less stressful following shapes than it is trying to create a free motion quilting design you haven’t really tried before. With this technique you are simply following along with a design that is already there for you.  This way you can also get a feel for the movement.


After it is all thread sketched, I will then add the backing to the work. I will now go over the background of the piece in some style of free motion quilting. Here I did a simple meander as I really don’t want any quilting to take over the design.  In doing this my thread sketching sections create a slightly 3D effect.

I also joined a group called the Fibre Art Network for Western Canada. This has also helped to push me and help to make my designs more challenging. The point of the network is to help promote this style of work as an art form. They enter their pieces into art galleries and sell their work. I encourage you to join this network or a similar one in your area. Check out the Network's gallery here

I love collage quilting and hope you give it a try! The world is your oyster so to speak with this style, you can create portraits, landscapes, still lifes,whatever takes your fancy. Take your next quilt to the next level! Visit my YouTube channel for more inspiration. 


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