Texture Poster

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Texture in art engages our sense of touch and sight. It captures the way something should feel when you reach out to touch it. As quilters, we are naturally apt to want to reach out and touch a beautiful fabric or quilt. In this lesson we begin by studying how you as a quilter can draw viewers in with the use of texture.

Have you ever walked through a fabric store and not actually touched any of the fabrics you are attracted to? Try it sometime, it is harder than you think. Lucy Lamp from Sophia explains texture this way:

"You wake up in the morning, toss back the crisp cotton sheets. Your bare feet move across the polished wood floor. You get into the shower and feel the warm water splash against your skin, the soap slides over your arms. You wrap yourself in a soft terry towel. Your clothes provide you with a whole array of textures: silky, starched, velvety, coarse, elastic. Breakfast provides even more: fluffy scrambled eggs, crisp bacon, melted butter dripping off crunchy toast.

You look out the window, and even though you can't touch it, you can see the layers of texture in the leaves of the old oak tree and its gnarly bark, the multicolored aging brick on the building across the street, the gleaming polished surface of a car.

Imagine the world without texture.

Touch is one of our senses. Our hands and skin are equipped with sensitive nerves that distinguish texture. In addition to giving us information about the world around us, our sense of touch gives us pleasure. We find sensual joy in the tactile experience of different surfaces.  It is an essential aspect of visual art for the same reason."

Consider the Sparrows-Matthew 10:29-31 by Randi Swindler

Let's use the quilt Consider the Sparrows-Matthew 10:29-31 by Randi Swindler, to find her use of texture to tell a story, while holding the viewers attention.

Consider the Sparrows-Matthew 10:29-31 by Randi Swindler detail

The window frame and ledge are made of wood. Your eyes confirm that it is indeed wood because the stitch lines mimic grain lines we recognize to be found in wood. Notice how the spaces between the lines allow the fabric to puff up slightly, making the wood appear to be a bit rough. This is not a smooth window ledge. Maybe this window is on an old cabin in the woods?




Consider the Sparrows-Matthew 10:29-31 by Randi Swindler detail


Speaking of window, did you notice that, with the addition of a few smears of paint on a sheer fabric, your eyes tell you that the surfaces are two smooth panes of glass.





Last but not least, each of the birds wears a coat of soft feathers, created using a combination of paint and thread sketching.
The thread sketching gives the suggestion of individual feathers without actually outlining each and every one individually. The birds feel soft and real.
Consider the Sparrows-Matthew 10:29-31 by Randi Swindler detail 

Award winning quilt artist Susan K. Cleveland (Featured in Show 109: Piping Hot Curves!, Show 1001: Mastering Miters And Perfect Prairie Points, Show 2308: It's Hip to be a Modern Dresden, and Show 2510) shares her approach to texture when it comes to capturing a viewer's interest in a quilt.

Flowers & Feathered Frenzy by Susan Cleveland
Flowers & Feathered Frenzy by Susan Cleveland.

Susan K. Cleveland 

I might approach design a bit differently than others since my degree is not in art or design. I started with very little confidence and very little talent, but a great deal of passion. In grade school and high school, my grades in art classes were based on my enthusiasm and effort and I was fortunate that my little art ego wasn't squashed! My design knowledge has developed as my confidence in quilting has grown.

Oh, I love a variety of textures in quilting! Quilts loaded with texture cause me to pause and take a long look. It seems there are three ways I like to vary textures in my quilts: with fabric, with quilting, and with embellishments.

While commercial solid fabrics look smooth, my favorite hand-dyed solid fabrics have depth. Solid fabrics will show off fine workmanship and allow quilting lines to be more important. Commercial prints are available in any texture you like and can be a simple way to add variety to your quilts. Busy prints hide quilting lines so keep that in mind.

One texture I do not appreciate in quilts is raised seam lines. Yikes! When seams are not ditch quilted, they will seem to float and often don't stay straight as they should. I'm a big promoter of ditch quilting! Quilting in background areas can completely change the look of a quilt.

Flowered & Feathered Frenzy by Susan Cleveland-detail

Background quilting can create a rich, elegant texture or something wild and crazy. While machine quilting creates a flat line and contours between the lines, hand quilting creates texture within its broken line.










Ah, embellishments! Today there is tremendous variety in threads, ribbons, beads, buttons, and baubles of all sorts. I like mixing smooth, shiny threads with more loosely twisted matte threads for contrast in texture. Felted wool balls are among my favorite embellishments. They can be cut and stitched upon or they can simply dangle from a prairie point.

Psychedelic Big Bang by Susan Cleveland  
Psychedelic Big Bang by Susan Cleveland.

Of course, for every rule or guideline that exists in design, there are many fantastic examples that break all the rules, so … go figure. Design something and if it pleases you, it's a big success!


Practice Exercise: Finding Texture Around You

(From Sophia)

Go for a walk around your neigborhood, a local park, or a place of interest to you. Be sure to take a camera or cell phone with you. See how many forms of texture you can find. Don't hurry, take your time and look closely around. Remember, you are training yourself to be more observant. Take your photos and upload them to a file or print on a page for your notebook. These images can later be used for inspiration. Below are examples of texture to get you started:

(All images by Lilo Bowman)

Click here for more topics related to The Art of Quilt Design program.



We continue our selection of quilts exhibited in 2019 at the Houston International Quilt Festival as part of their 45th Anniversary, the Sapphire Anniversary. The Sapphire Celebration exhibit is described as:

"Quilters have long used the color blue to symbolize trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven. Sapphire is also the chosen gem to celebrate 45th anniversaries—which International Quilt Festival is doing this year (2019)! These new and antique blue and white quilts will be suspended from the ceiling in a spectacular and unforgettable display."

To be a part of the exhibit, quilts had to fit the following criteria:

  • Entries may be Traditional, Modern or Art.
  • Entries must have been made between 1974 and 2019.
  • The minimum size is 50” x 50”

Please enjoy the eighth quilt from the exhibition by Karen I. Miller and Janice Jenney.

Title of Quilt: 100 Treasures

Quilter's Names: Karen I. Miller and Janice Jenney

Now is the time to "Feed the Soul" not to expect or decide to make a bunch of rules for yourself. I like goals, but only if I am allowed to be flexible. During these challenging times...and yes they ARE challenging on so many levels, we need kindness. Kindness is a gift best showered on yourself first...for if you cannot gift yourself kindness, how can you ever take the next step to be kind to others.
This little heart was stitched by my friend Deb during a workshop with Sue Spargo in Tucson, AZ at the beginning of February. It is a sweet memory that I cherish. How life has changed.
I find it settling for my soul to embrace those things which bring joy, memories, and brain stimulation. And, my hand stitching does all of that! If you have traveled along this bumpy road with me for any length of time you know that I am buried in hand stitching. There is a rhythm and beauty, whether it be embroidery, Spargoing, cross stitch, or appliqué (both cotton & wool).
A gift to my stitching world has been Ariane Zurcher! I introduced you to her back in January 2019 (Anna and G on the Road: Artistic Passion with Ariane Zurcher) but what you may not know is that since then she has been working and developing a YouTube Channel called On the Other Hand. She has worked with Sue in bringing support to the left handed stitcher. But what is awesome is that it is filled with ideas for the right handed stitcher. I think for those of you who are already deep into Spargoing and for those of you who are thinking..."Maybe I should give it a go," please turn off the news and subscribe to her channel...you will be feeding your soul.

Stay tuned and travel along with us on Quilt Roadies.

Click here for Anna's blog.



Lysa Flower does, and she has created a quilt that will have you "wanting your MTV". Enjoy We Got the Beat, and head on back to those days before streaming music was the norm.

We Got the Beat by Lysa Flower, of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada and the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild, was featured in the Piecing category at QuiltCon 2020.

Photos by Mary Kay Davis


Silk is glorious, but troublesome. Here is some hard earned thoughts and approaches from Alex. To watch past lessons, go to our home page, scroll down to the LIVE section, click through to YouTube and pick what you want to see.


Alex Anderson gets to know Lorraine Turner. They discuss her books, new fabric line, Houston Quilt Show Exhibit, learning to let go, and slow dancing.

It's a fun time with a wonderful artist who shows some of her works and tells what is happening during the quarantine.



LIVE Moved to Thursday April 9

Let’s Make Dancing Squares
Learn to make Ricky’s fun and improvisational Dancing Squares. No fuss, tons of fun. You will have a blast letting go of all rules and measuring. One very special quilt from Ricky’s collection will also be shared that features this fun technique.
(Approx. 45 minutes)


Sylvia Schaefer decided she'd had enough when everyone kept telling her dinosaurs were "just for boys". Take a look at this fabulous quilt she created with both improv and paper piecing. It brought a smile to our face and a lot of other little girls too at QuiltCon this year.

I Can't Believe I Have To Say This by Sylvia Schaefer, of Athens, GA, was featured in the Piecing category at QuiltCon 2020.

Photos by Mary Kay Davis


At WeAllSew Lori Kennedy, from LoriKennedyQuilts, is in the Easter spirit. She writes, "Let’s get crackin’ and decorate eggs! No messy dyes. No spilled teacups! Create a gorgeous table runner or set of napkins for your spring table with the adorable, Eggs in a Basket free motion quilting motif!"

This is a great way for a beginner to practice their quilting.

Click here for full tutorial.



Alex is back sharing her thoughts on Pinning for Success. She also shares what happens when...

Get the 2020 Block Of The Month Kit

Top 10 Reasons to Join the Quilt Show!

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