Art Judi Blaydon

Published on January 11th, 2013 | by Taylor Majewski


How-To: Design a Quilt from Quilt Artist Judi Blaydon

Judi BlaydonAs industrial sewing technology has advanced, the quilting process has become more and more accessible, leading to the rise in unusual quilting methods and design. Today, quilt artists are transforming the craft into an unusual art form that focuses more on aesthetics than the practicality of sewing together a warm winter blanket.

Indeed, the quilts made by quilt artist Judi Blaydon can hardly be compared to those your grandmother used to make. Blaydon’s quilts are vibrant and abstract, visceral and somehow familiar, as though sewn together from a dream.

In addition to being a quilt artist, Blaydon has judged quilt shows and developed workshops for quilt-makers in the U.S., Canada, Switzerland and Japan since 1981. Most recently, Blaydon’s quilts were featured at the ArtQuilt Gallery in New York City.

“Whether an abstract landscape inspired by a collage made from fragments of photographs, or simply an expression of the joy of color and pattern, my work is always about things I love,” stated Blaydon in her artist’s statement on ArtQuilt Gallery’s website. “My quilts record things I dream about, wish for and remember.”

In her book, Collage + Cloth = Quilt, Blaydon gives us insight into how to personalize a homemade quilt, encouraging her audience to explore personal themes in their quilt-making by incorporating photographs into the process.

Now you, too, can become a quilt artist and create a personalized quilt by following Blaydon’s simple steps:

Step 1: Find Inspiration

To create your collage, gather photographs from either film or digital cameras that inspire you.

“Your collage elements will come from photographs you have taken,” Blaydon suggests in her book, “selected because you love looking at them and because you love seeing them together.”

Step 2: Choose Photos

Spread your collection of photos on a table or wall. Pick three of your favorite images. Then choose three more images that complement and contrast with your first group. Use a color copier to make two or three copies of each.

Step 3: Create Collage

Generate different sizes of each photo to add visual interest and variety of scale to the collage. Blaydon suggests using copies of your photographs to “play, experiment, audition and propose” your quilt design with various sizes and formats.

Step 4: Glue Collage

If you are happy with your design, glue down your final collage on 8½” x 11″ white paper.

Step 5: Draw Design

To transform your collage into fabric, you will need to make a seamline diagram. Place your collage under a sheet of matte acetate. Using a see-through ruler, draw with a black pen on the dull side of the matte acetate, outline major shapes in the collage and draw the details you find within them.

Step 6: Enlarge

Enlarge your design. Refer to Blaydon’s chart for enlarging dimensions. The quickest and most accurate enlarging method is to take your diagram to a copy shop that can make large-format reproductions.

“You’ll need to have an idea of how large you want your quilt to be so you’ll know how to do the enlarging,” Blaydon recommends.

Step 7: Look for Fabric

Once your collage is finalized and you’ve enlarged the scale, start looking for fabrics that match your vision.

“Search for details in your collage that may go unnoticed,” Blaydon suggests. “For example, look for streaks of light, gradations of value, subtle changes in color and variations in design patterns that you want to express via your fabrics.”

Remember that working with fabric is an interpretation of your collage, not an identical replica.

“You may deviate from the character and personality of certain visual elements within a collage,” Blaydon reminds her readers, “while remaining respectful to the basic structure.”

Step 8: Sew!

When you’re happy with a fabric design that you feel best represents your collage, complete the quilt by sewing it together.

Find out more about quilt artist Judi Blaydon and how to order her book at

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About the Author

Taylor Majewski is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Art History and Economics from Occidental College in Los Angeles. Born and raised in a rural town in Connecticut, Taylor had little exposure to art growing up. In high school, she developed a passion for drawing and painting, which led to multiple independent studies in oil painting. Her work has been featured in a student exhibition at the UCLA New Wight Gallery. Living in Los Angeles, Taylor has immersed herself in the arts culture by visiting a myriad of museums and galleries. Next year she will be studying abroad in Italy to continue her Art History coursework. In her free time, Taylor loves to read, write, and watch the Red Sox.

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