Saturday, 24 September 2011

How To - Make an Art Quilt Style Mixed Media Canvas - Autumn Owl part one

This is my first ever How To for my blog and its series on how to make a decorative canvas for your wall.

For this you will need

for part one

1: a canvas

2:embroidery thread and thin yarn in natural shades such as green, brown, purple,yellow and orange

3: sewing needles

4: scaps of fabric. You will only need small pieces as no branch piece needs to be bigger then one inch

5:twigs, fabric leaves, flowers,acorn caps, nature ephemera

6: anything else that is small, decorative and takes your fancy.

Step one is to unwrap your canvas. I'm using an 18 by 24cm one.

Step 2 is to tea stain your canvas. I dislike white surfaces and its always nice to start with something that gives you the feel of your surface. Leave it to dry and you can now think about your design.

I started by drawing a simple tree branch design in paint on my computer and transfered it to my canvas. You can either draw in from the screen or print it out and use tracing paper to copy your design.

Once you have your image on your canvas you can then start embroidering your outlines. For this I used embroidery threads in yellow and green, some dark purply/grey handpainted silk yarn and brown knitting yarn. A mix of textures as in nature.

When you have finished your outlines this is what you should have

Now is the exciting bit.

The next step is filling out your tree branches. You will need you fabric scraps and more embroidery cotton

You need to cut each piece of fabric roughly to the size you need as you stitch it. For the multi coloured branch each piece is around half the width of the space and I have used large raw stitches to add to the organic nature of the piece

This branch is a mixture of suede,silk,cotton,curtain fabric and acid etched damask.

Once you have finished you branch I suggest you add a couple of small twigs by oversewing them onto the already stitched canvas to give you a feel of how you are progressing

The second and third branches I have used the same technique but have used a single fabric one a pale fawn/grey linen and the other a green gold loose woven heavier fabric

The wonderfull thing about this is that you don't need to finish one layer before starting on another. I have already suggested the adding of small twigs and now on the other branches I have added french knots and small circles of yellow and green fabric to represent lichen on the plainer branches along with some fabric ivy leaves

You will need to fill in the other branches in the same manner using whatever fabric you wish but not making any single piece bigger then one inch.

Remember to leave to botton horizontal branch free of embelishment as that is where you will put the owl.

Next post will be filling in the background


  1. oooh can't wait to see how this progresses; it looks great already! I haven't worked on stretched materials for ages - but I suspect it may make work take less time and be more accurate!

  2. Thank you,

    I'm reallu pleased with it so far.

    Its almost zero cost as well. All I have had to fork out for is the canvas and tha was only a couple of £
    Its my first piece on a set of two.