Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Stencil Quilting by Tammy Tutterow

I am addicted to collecting.  I love just about anything and everything that is vintage.  I especially love vintage sewing things like buttons, trims, and lace.  Not long ago I realized that it was a shame to keep these treasures hidden away in boxes and drawers.  I gave myself "permission" to use them in projects.  One of the ways I like to use them is by creating what I call "spool books".

I create long strips of quilted fabric cut to fit a large vintage wooden spool.  I wrap the quilted fabric around the center of the spool.  I like to embellish them with different collections and themes.  By using the vintage items on projects like this I can use and enjoy them without altering or changing them.

The spool book I am sharing today features my collection of vintage pressed plastic buttons, vintage trims, and a few pieces of vintage velvet millinery leaves. If you don't have a spool, you can also make a small quilted fabric collection quilt to hang or display on a table.  It would also make a wonderful book or journal cover too!

To create a spool book or collection quilt, cut one piece of cotton batting and two pieces of cotton muslin all to the same width and length.  The size will vary depending on your spool, journal, or display needs.

Sew along the top and bottom edge of the three layers together to keep them all together.  Normally I add tons of random sewing lines all over the piece to create a quilted look.  For this piece, I wanted a more artistic crazy quilt look to my sewing lines.  The Rafters (L046) stencil by MaryBeth Shaw provided the perfect framework.

There are different ways you could transfer the design, I chose to use Distress Ink.  Distress Ink reacts to water so it is fun to use on fabric because you can mist it with water to soften its look.  To transfer the stencil design, lay the stencil on the fabric.  Use an ink blending tool to tap ink onto the fabric through the stencil.

(Keep in mind, Distress Ink will wash out of fabric so it is not suitable for a project that you intend to launder.)

The ink will create a nice outline of the stencil design.  Repeat the process again as needed to fill the full length of the fabric strip.  This stencil design makes it easy to use end to end with no break in the pattern.

Machine stitch along the solid lines from the stencil design.  This pattern looks like it would be too intricate to sew but it is actually quite easy.  It is all straight lines!  The inked areas will be all "contained" between the sewn lines, almost like a pieced quilt!

Mist the fabric with water if you want to soften the ink to create a more aged or tea dyed look.  The more water you use the more bleed and movement you will get in the ink. 

Use a heat tool to dry the fabric.

When the fabric is dry, you can add trips to the end of your fabric strip if desired.

To add more interest to the "quilt blocks", you can add more stenciling.  To do this, place the stencil on the fabric strip again, matching up the solid lines of the stencil with the sewing lines.

Place a second stencil (shown L318 Wall of Words) on top of the first.  Use an ink blending tool to randomly apply assorted colors of ink onto the fabric through both stencils. 

The first stencil will act like a mask keeping your stitching lines clean.

You can continue adding more random stenciling to create the looks of random fabric patterns.  (Stencil shown M086 Techno Insiders Circle).

You can also add stenciled images without masking the stitching.  In this case, I added a favorite feather stencil (M075 Imaginary Bird Feather) to be a part of the "collection" theme.  

This stencil is a favorite because it comes in two parts, the stencil and a mask.  To create this feather, I inked the top part of the feather with the stencil in place in the mask.  I then used just the mask to ink the lower part of the feather.

I love the way the stenciling in the squares mimics a pieced quilt!

The final step is to embellish.  I used the different "quilt squares" as guides for placing different elements.  I finished the first third of my strip by filling it with vintage buttons, lace trims, and velvet millinery leaves.  I used the same thread to attach all the buttons and to "tie" the leaves to the fabric.  I used mini safety pins to attach the lace trims.

As I find more buttons or trims that fit the theme I will be able to come back and add them to open squares on the strip.  I love a project that allows you to come back and add to it again and again.



cotton muslin
cotton batting
sewing machine with thread
Ranger Distress Ink (assorted colors)
Ranger Ink Blending Tool
Ranger Heat It Craft Tool
water mister
assorted embellishments


  1. What an awesome project. I love this! Thank you for sharing this wonderful project with us.

  2. Gorgeous ideas for a quilt! Your easy to follow directions makes this project so inspirational!

  3. Tammy! This might be one of my favorites because I, too, have a bunch of vintage stuff, love to stitch AND have several wooden spools to use. I moved into a new house a few weeks ago and the challenge will be to find those spools! Thank you for sharing this!

  4. It's a stunning project, if only I sewed!

  5. This is an awesome project. I have a box of spools in the attic (gasp!) Haven't yet found a place to put them since I moved into a smaller house. But, after seeing this great project I may dig them out and give this a try. Thanks for all your vintage inspiration. (I want to make the thread spool holders too!)

  6. This is just so cool! Love this idea!

  7. I so love this, using stencils on fabric, never really thought of that. Just love all the different aspects and especially the finished product. Thank you so much for sharing, you have taken my love of quilting and stamping addiction to a new level!

  8. I just love this creative technique. I cannot wait to try it myself. Thank you!

  9. I'm gobsmacked! This is just so out of the box and wonderful. Just wow!

  10. I am loving your "Quilt Book" which resembles Snippet rolls that I adore and keep promising myself to create. Thank you for sharing your technique. The stenciling is very unique. Creative Bliss...

  11. this is so fabulous, I love it! I am a confirmed button & vintage notions hoarder. ;-)

  12. How creative and beautiful....brilliant idea and can't wait to try this!

  13. Definitely a "must try!" Love the look, and now I know what to do with my mom's vintage buttons and trims!

  14. Que hermoso! Sutil y lleno de posibilidades!


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