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Creating One-Of-A-Kinds

When someone hires you to create a one-of-a-kind birthday gift for a friend – and the only parameter is to be about quilting – that’s a fun assignment!

For this project, I thought a lot about what I should make and how it could be personal to these two friends, whose shared love of quilting made for many enjoyable get-togethers. I decided it should not only say something about their friendship and shared hobby, it should actually be them quilting!

With photographs of both women in hand, I sketched (waist up) paper dolls of friends Joyce and Gail, and designed little outfits for them to wear. (Don’t worry about the no-legs part; you’ll see they’re seated behind a quilting table!)

As for the quilt, I didn’t want it to be just a picture of a quilt, but rather an actual paper quilt hand-pieced and made for the collage, which was a 9″ x 12″, wood-framed canvas base. I sketched and played with design ideas, including a color scheme of jewel shades for a pretty quilt, and a pull-out color for the ladies’ dresses.

This was getting fun!

The Quilt

To give the quilt a three-dimensional effect, I used a 1/8″-thick, horizontal board for the quilting table, which would hold the quilt as the friends worked on it. I selected richly colored papers with small patterns that would lend themselves to being small pieces of the quilt.

Cutting the papers into tiny quilt pieces required precision so they’d fit together perfectly like a jigsaw puzzle, so I used a die cutting machine and small square dies. After cutting the pieces, I then cut each square into two triangles, which was the basis for my quilt design.

The quilt pieces were laid out in a design I thought would be pleasing to the eye, and the prototype quilt stayed to my left – while the true (blank) quilt board was to my right. Using small tweezers and a craft knife for careful placement, each piece of the prototype quilt was lifted one by one, moved over, and attached with gel medium to the final quilt board.

This was painstaking work, but fun to see the quilt come together one tiny piece at a time! (If you guessed there are 60 individual paper pieces that make up the quilt, you are correct!)

When the quilt was finished, I trimmed it on the front and sides with purple satin ribbon (left unfinished at the top since the quilt is under construction by the friends), and set it aside for the time being. (Joyce and Gail just kept popping up everywhere!)

The Ladies

At this point, the friends existed only as pencil drawn figures. It was time to bring the ladies to life!

Using acrylic paints, I painted Gail’s and Joyce’s faces, necks, and hair; inked in facial features; and added on a pair of glittery, quilting eyeglasses for each. If you’ve been following The Daily Artisan blog, you know how much I enjoy making paper dolls and little dresses for some of my projects – and this was no exception!

Complementary patterned paper was drawn and cut into dresses for the women, and an overlay of sleeves (arms!) was added. I wanted pointed collars that mirrored the shape of the quilt pieces, as you’ll see in the green and white striped collars on their dresses. (Excuse the red barrel look – it’s just double-sided tape for their dresses and arms!)

Purple buttons were added, as well as a “Gail” and a “Joyce” name tag like they’d wear if attending a quilting show or conference.

The Collage

With all the rich colors in the quilt – and the ladies’ purple outfits – I wanted a neutral background so I painted the canvas a pretty camel color.

And, then came the assembly – quilting table with quilt in process; the ladies with their tea cups and kettle; some loose quilting pieces at the top of the unfinished quilt; words I wrote and printed in a stitchery font I found online; and a polka dot, green ribbon as a left border and also around the entire perimeter for a finished look when hanging on the wall.

Since it was a birthday gift, I made an accompanying birthday card with some of the leftover quilt pieces and green ribbon, and also decorated the envelope with them.

What a fun project to make! And Joyce and Gail were pleased with the collage as a way to honor their friendship and shared love of quilting!

Do you enjoy making collages? What’s your favorite subject for them? Be sure to comment below!

January 8, 2022



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