A journal quilt is a small quilt, usually the size of a US typing paper. They come in 8 inches by 10 inches and are made in a series that can be finished either weekly or monthly. Journal quilts provide an excellent venue for a quilter to try new techniques and think of unique designs to incorporate into a miniature quilt.
The idea of a journal quilt came from American textile artist Jeanne Williamson who wanted to experiment and make art by making a small quilt each week. Journal quilts do not require a vast amount of fabric, and there is no need to be a quilting expert when making these small quilts.
You can create journal quilts quickly and easily because you only need tiny pieces of fabric and use any method to put your small quilt together.
Journal quilts are perfect for newbie quilters or young children who are just learning to quilt. Aside from stitching the fabric patches, you can glue or fuse the fabrics to create your miniature quilt.
Anything goes when you make a quilt journal to express your ideas on a patchwork of fabrics. But here are a few basic things to know to start making your journal quilt.
Choose a piece of fabric for the surface of your quilt. Cut the top fabric according to the size you want. Usually, a journal quilt is the size of a US typing paper.
Select a good material for the back of your quilt and some batting to insert between the two fabrics. Cut the three fabrics into equal sizes.
Note: The journal quilt does not necessarily need to have three layers. You can choose to have only the top fabric to embellish and the back fabric since you do not need a journal quilt to keep you warm.
You can also choose to bind the three layers as you quilt, or you can finish decorating the top first before you attach the backing.
Start decorating your quilt. There are many ways to embellish your journal quilt.
- Cut your fabric patches into shapes that you want. You can sew, glue, or use fusible fabric to join the materials.
- Embroider on your fabric. You can use other embellishments like sequins, beads, buttons, etc.
- Paint your fabric using fabric paints or permanent markers.
- You can use dyes to color your quilt fabrics and fabric patches.
- There are design elements such as t-shirt transfer paper to transfer an image or a printed design.
- For your top quilt design, glue various materials to your small quilts, such as lace, paper, metals, or other sentimental items.
- Create a felting design on your quilt surface.
Put your journal quilt together by layering the three pieces; top, batting, and backing fabrics together. When making a journal quilt, you can use any quilting style; there is no wrong or correct method.
You can join your layers by binding them around the edge. Some journal quilters do not put binding around the small quilts and use border stitches instead, such as satin, scallops, or blanket stitches.
Tips for Creating Journal Quilts
Quilters creating journal quilts for fun or when joining competitions have these things to keep in mind.
- Journal quilting is a great way to practice if you are into hand-stitching. Journal quilts do not require miniature stitching. Big or normal-sized stitches will work on journal quilts.
- Compared to huge quilts, journal quilts do not need the binding of the edges. Since journal quilts are such small pieces, you can try finishing your quilt with decorative machine stitches.
- If you want the edges to look like it has binding on the edges, you can use ribbons or couched cord.
You can hand-stitch the borders of your journal quilt using blanket stitches or zigzag stitches to secure the layers of your mini quilt.
- There are no rules on how to design the surface of your journal quilt. You can use various media such as printed photos, paints, or iron-on fabric designs.
- It is also easy to incorporate sequins, buttons, or beads on a bond-paper-sized quilt. You are not limited to traditional quilting techniques like making patchwork or applique. You are at liberty to choose your style or method.
- If you are joining competitions with your journal quilts, you need to be aware of and comply with the requirements set by the journal quilt committee. Some competitions would require using three layers of fabric like a regular quilt. If there are no such specifications, you can only design the top quilt and use a commercial felt as an excellent backing.
- Lastly, as with any quilt you make, put your name and the date you finished your journal quilt for posterity.
The best thing about journal quilts is that they are tiny, and you can finish them in no time compared to blanket quilts, which almost take forever to complete. There are also no strict rules to follow when making a journal quilt. Let your imagination run wild to develop your creativity, design, and sewing skills.
Journal quilts will also make excellent work samples for your portfolio when applying for an artistic or textile-based college course.
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What are journal quilts used for?
You can use journal quilts to be creative and document what is going on in your life.
Journal quilts started when quilter Jeanne Williamson was having trouble finding time to quilt. She was also looking for ways to become more creative in her quilts. Making a journal quilt is an excellent way to try new techniques and materials weekly or monthly.
What started with one person aiming to have fun experimenting on small quilts attracted many quilters who wished to do the same. Read on for the variety of uses of journal quilts for several quilters.
- Making a journal quilt is one way to express oneself. Some quilters use journal quilting to show frustrations or grief from day-to-day experiences.
- There are no restrictions regarding the style to use for journal quilting. You can use any material to adorn the top surface of your journal quilt. You can paint, embroider, glue, machine, or hand-stitch your designs on the surface of your quilt.
- Creating journal quilts is an excellent way to use small pieces of fabric as design elements for your tiny quilt.
- Making a journal quilt is a great way to practice or learn a new technique you want to apply to a larger version eventually.
- With journal quilts, it would be easy to finish a large number of quilts in a short time.
- You can use journal quilting as a homeschooling project for children to develop creativity and design skills. Journal quilts are fast and easy to make so that kids will not have to put together large pieces of fabric that would take a very long time to finish.
- Make journal quilts to express your feelings in a non-verbal manner.
- Learn new math skills by making journal quilts using math lessons like tessellations, Fibonacci, or geometry.
- You do not necessarily need to sew journal quilts, so it is easy for young children to make. Journal quilt enthusiasts can experiment with dyeing and painting fabrics, fabric fusing, and needle felting, to name a few.
What is a narrative quilt?
A narrative quilt is a type of quilt that tells a story. Some narrative quilts are created using pictures, sound, scents, and textures to tell a story.
A quilter or a group of quilters create narrative quilts to tell a story about momentous occasions, events, or important feelings.
You can find narrative or story quilts in different cultures around the globe. The leading story quilter is Faith Ringgold, who got her inspiration for her quilts from historical events and personal experiences.
For a long time now, quilters have been using quilts as a medium to tell stories about day-to-day activities, historical moments, as well as special events. Some quilters put their stories into quilts for these reasons:
- It is a chance for self-expression and to tell your story.
- It is an artistic way to commemorate a special event or moment.
- An excellent gift for a friend or family member
- You can learn new skills and practice the ones you know.
- You can hang your story quilt or place it on the sofa for décor purposes.
- Use as a sensory instrument for people with mental or physical problems such as visual impairment, depression, etc.
- Use it as a conversation piece when family or friends visit.
What kind of stories can be told through quilts?
Stories on quilts can be about their creators. Quilts can tell stories about historical and personal events using familiar materials like old clothing and the design incorporated in the quilt.
Many quilts tell stories that replicate the lives of the people who make them, while some record the cultural history at a specific place and time.
A quilt is an excellent way to present a story. You can make a story quilt on your own or with a group of friends or fellow quilt enthusiasts.
Before building a story quilt, here are a few things you need to consider.
- Think about the things that interest you. Build your story around your interests to help you decide what elements you want to include in your quilt.
- Think about the techniques you want to use for your story quilt. You can choose from patchwork, collage, embroidery, beading, and many more. Draw your design first on a piece of paper before starting your quilt.
- List the materials you would like to use for your quilt.
- Before making your quilt, consider how you will use it when finished. If you are putting it on display, it may not need to be as toughly built as it should be when you intend to use it as a rug or a blanket.
- Suppose you are a newbie at sewing and not entirely confident at stitching fabrics together. In that case, you can still create a fabulous quilt by gluing the patches of fabrics or materials together. You can also use iron-on adhesives to put things tidily in place.
- If you are using scents or sound buttons on your quilt, think about how you will incorporate them effectively into your quilt. You may sew them into pockets at the back portion of your quilt.
- If you are working on a quilt with a group, it should be clear to everyone which part of the quilt you want to work on.
Creating a quilt should be fun and memorable as the finished piece of story quilt you get in the end.