A picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes we really want to just make a statement. There are many ways to add lettering and words to quilts, from surface design techniques to quilting or embroidery. Let’s look at a few of them.
An option that quickly comes to mind is writing on the quilt with markers, as on a label, or as shown in this exquisite example by Christine Alexiou. In our January/February 2015 issue she explained in detail how she created this remarkable quilted book. Using computer generated text, Christine painted the fabric with diluted fabric paint to mimic vellum. Stabilizer was ironed to the back of the fabric to avoid stretching while painting. She then traced each letter, working on a light table with the computer generated text beneath the fabric. I’d say it was well worth the effort!
Another way to use the magic of computer generated text is to print directly on fabric from a computer. Lea McComas added text in relatively subtle manner by printing text in a variety of styles and fonts on this clever quilt.
Jenny Bowker incorporated two types of writing in her series of quilts celebrating the 100 years since the naming of Canberra. She took photos in a variety of locations that represent what it’s like to live in Canberra. Computer generated text identified the location each image was taken, and quilted, hand written-style notes at the bottom of each piece tell more about the image and the date it was taken. Using black thread for both types of lettering adds emphasis to the words, makes them clearly legible, and is a unifying design element among all the quilts in the series. You can find out more about her process in her article Canberra Sketches in our March/April 2014 issue.
Kay Bell’s cover quilt from the same issue also features quilted text. The words on this quilt, Inner Circle – Flower of Scotland, are particularly important to the piece, as they are the first verse of the Scottish National Anthem. By using a double layer of batting and quilting a tight fill around each letter Kay was able to make the letters stand out from the background and serve as a frame for the central image.
Hand embroidery is another popular technique for adding some text to our work, as shown in this detail from a charming quilt made by Stephanie Patterson.
These are only a few examples of how to accomplish writing on a quilt. How about cutting out letters from fabric that has letters printed on it, piecing letters, appliquéing them, or using paint? What is your favorite way to add text to a quilt?