It’s Easy to Watercolor a Quilt for Framing

If you love quilts but can’t sew, how about taking the time to learn a little bit about watercolor painting and paint a quilt for your walls! 

1paintquilt1Matt and I know that quilting is near and dear to many of your hearts. Aside from you telling us about it when we see you out and about, we can see what articles interest you the most by the number of hits it gets on the website, and anything related to quilting always gets a boatload of hits.

So, I was inspired by one of our fans, Ginny L. Lang, who painted a couple of lovely quilts for Matt and me several years ago, to teach you all how to quilt by painting!  It’s certainly an opportunity to open up the world of quilting to those that don’t know a stitch about sewing.  So look out, we are going to do a no sew quilting project! Just gather up some water coloring materials and get set to quilt! Hahaha! We’ll begin with just a single quilt block, just like you would if you were a beginning quilter.

Materials List:

  • 300 lb. watercolor paper
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Right angle
  • Watercolor paints
  • Brushes
  • Container for water


1. I start with heavy watercolor paper at 300 lbs. you can see I did the top painting on 140 lb. paper and you can just see the difference in the thickness.  The heavier paper holds up better and of course is more expensive.


2. To get started, select a quilt block design that you like.  I have a book that I refer to, but you can find quilt block designs on our website or other quilting sites.  When you find one you like, draw it lightly onto the watercolor paper.  You may need a triangle for a right angle, ruler or even protractor to get the right shape and measurements.


3. Now you need to choose your palette of colors, just like when you are shopping for fabric for your quilt.

I chose to do an analogous color scheme, or it’s sometimes called neighboring because the colors are close to each other on the color wheel.  I have blue, green and yellow.


4. Once the color palette is chosen, think about how to make the colors look like fabric.  Most often in quilting, you combine patterned fabrics to create your quilt.  I have made an attempt to create a small plaid on mine and another fabric with polka dots.  To create these you use a mask to cover what you want to stay white.  It can be messy, so I don’t use it too often.  But, the good news is I’ve seen some beautiful quilts done in rich jewel tones in solid fabrics too, so anything goes.  Plus, it’s your painting, do whatever you want.

5. When you watercolor, you have to wet your paints to soften them up, so lightly spray your paint with warm water, then wet your brush and go to your first color.
Go straight to your paper if you plan on using your colors full strength, which is what I did.


Use different brushes to get tiny stripes or make plaids.  You can even create a mottled appearance by putting the color down first and then immediately blotting it with a paper towel as I did along the border of the block.


6. You can finish up your design by adding some details.  For instance, when you are sewing, after you piece together your quilt, you do the actual quilting which adds stitches to all of your pieces.  In this photo I’m in the process of adding the white stitches.  It’s tough to see them on the light colors, but on the dark navy, they really show up.

So, Matt and I recommend dark colors because they will be beautiful with the stitching detail in the end.


As I’ve mentioned this wasn’t my idea, it was Ginny’s, and here’s another quilt painting she made to help inspire you! Now here’s lady that knows her way around a paint tray.  Aren’t these patterns beautiful?


Ginny matted her watercolors with beautiful cream fabrics and added fabric tape measures, needle threaders and more.  I won’t go to that extreme, but I will add a colored mat to mine to bring out the blues.  Slip this into a frame, and I have finally finished a quilt!

Matt tried this little project with me and he said he enjoyed this a lot more than painting walls.  You don’t need ladders, heavy paint equipment, and it’s a lot tougher to ruin any clothes watercolor painting!

Well, for those of you who haven’t tried watercolor painting, I highly recommend it.  I’ve taken classes and really enjoyed the whole experience. Remember, there never comes a time to stop learning new things.  And, you can be sure to do that if you keep following Matt and me….around the house!

For more quilting projects please visit our sewing section and look under quilting.


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