Quilting a Child’s Painting

It all began this way. On the left, is a simply printed tea towel from my granddaughter. On the right, is the fabulous print that will create the border. HERE WE GO!


This may have been the most fun I’ve ever had in quilting! Probably because it began as the very simple artwork of my 3 year old granddaughter, Juniper. She printed it using fruit dipped in paint. I always say, I’ll quilt anything, but kid art is the BEST!


Appropriately keeping with the theme, I added this fabulous fruit print border I had picked up from my guilds’ “share pile” the night before. I made it 6″ wide, really not knowing where I might go with this project.


I wasted no time and got it on the frame as fast as I could. I didn’t mean to work on it for so long, but it did consume about 3 days. I’m guessing it might have been 15 hours of quilting. I had no pre-plan and designed as I worked. Thread color is always difficult for me. It scares the BA-G-BEES out of me to use a contrasting color, always afraid I will make a mistake and it will JUMP out of the quilt! Thankfully, I had a couple of longarm friends who encouraged me to GO GREEN, so I dove right in!!! (the color is Kiwi, by Glide)


I used a double batting of 100% wool because I wanted some big fluff! This was all stitched free motion, so I used round templates and eyeballed a lot of the circles. I wasn’t terribly concerned about perfection on this piece. I wanted to keep some of the child and whimsy that it was screaming!


Before going any further, I wanted to make sure to get a signature in. Since it is a collaborated piece, it deserved both our names AND a date!! Label and date your quilts! I like using my own handwriting. Try it, you’ll be surprised that writing with your longarm will look a lot like your regular handwriting!


Then there were the lines! I’m a little particular about lines, maybe OCD about them!!! I like them straight and I use my ruler, moving it along and beside the entire time. These are 1/8″-1/16″ over the entire piece. Eeeek!!!!


It’s hard to see, but I continued the line work into the border, adding a line of pearls at random spots.


After getting the circles where I wanted, lines where they needed to go, I went inside the painted circles and organically stitched where the paint had landed. I like the juxtaposition of the inside and outside circles.


Then there were the rhinestones!! OMG!! I have waited for the right quilt to do some intense embellishing and this was the one! Once again, hard to see in photos, but I placed about 150 stones throughout. This was the icing on the cake!


At this point, I was so thrilled I had put our names in before I even started. I got a little carried away and before I knew it I had filled in all the space! I let a few circles and ghosted shapes flow over into the border. I love asymmetry and use it whenever I can.


Here is the finished piece before I stretched it onto an artists’ canvas, next step! I wanted it to hang and be self framing, so the hubs helped and we stretched it over a canvas, stapling to the inside as we stretched. The hardest part was making sure we kept it centered and equal on all sides. I had also quilted it to the edge, so I had plenty of excess fabric to use for stretching.



And who doesn’t love a back!!! Oh my gosh, I may love it even more!


I always believe the back of a quilt tells the real story. You can see things you will never notice on the front. I was sad that by choosing to stretch on the canvas, I lost the back view! Ah, well, “C’est la vie!”


Before I let Juniper have it back, I hung it on my wall for a few days. I decided if it were me, I might hang it sideways. Pieces like this are so great, they can go a few different ways and you can have a new piece of artwork each direction! I hope you enjoyed this piece and are inspired to re-purpose a special fabric from a child. I guarantee fun!!!


  1. Leave a Reply

    Susan Mullen
    May 27, 2016

    Kelly, thank you so much for showing us this great project! And thanks, too, for showing your granddaughter that you love her work and you are inspired by it! I know this will mean a lot to Juniper! Also, I’d love to hear her opinion about hanging it sideways versus the other way.

    • Leave a Reply

      [email protected]
      May 27, 2016

      Thanks Susan! I’m not sure which way they put it. I’ll find out next time I’m there! Great thing with kids, there is no right or wrong way 🙂

    • Leave a Reply

      December 31, 2016

      Thank you for sharing all of the steps. I often enjoy looking at beautiful work and wonder how the artist got there! This encourages me to keep on learning and being brave with new projects. God bless!

  2. Leave a Reply

    cindy parry
    May 27, 2016

    Oh, my goodness! This is too cool! Love what you did. The final quilt is beautiful and I’m sure your granddaughter is pretty darned proud of her artwork that you made so extra special.

  3. Leave a Reply

    Ginny Cook
    May 27, 2016

    I just absolutely love every little and big detail on this masterpiece! It is a treasure for keeps. Great art and artists.

  4. Leave a Reply

    Mary Ann Witalec Keyes
    May 27, 2016

    I absolutely love this quilt!!! You and Juniper should be very proud. I also occasionally stretch finished quilts on wooden frames. You don’t need a pre-stretched canvas. I buy stretcher frames (available in sets of two in a wide selection of lengths) from our local art supply store, assemble the frames, and staple the finished quilt to the frames. I add a 2 or 3 inch strip of fabric to all sides and wrap it around the frame before stapling. Although it will be hidden from the front, I use a matching or neutral fabric for the strips. The advantage of this method is that you can still see the quilt back when you turn the frame around. Also, it is simple to do and doesn’t require much carpentry skill or many tools.
    Best, Mary Ann

    • Leave a Reply

      [email protected]
      May 27, 2016

      Hi Mary Ann and thanks! I went searching in my small town for stretcher frames, but couldn’t find any. I could have ordered or waited, but I wanted it done yesterday, so I went with the canvas. If I was patient, that’s exactly what I would do 🙂 My hubs was pleased that I made something work so he didn’t have to build me a frame, which also happens often!

  5. Leave a Reply

    Lesley Swenson Morris
    May 27, 2016

    Just incredible !! Truly a labor of love and work of art. Just amazing.

  6. Leave a Reply

    May 27, 2016

    What an awesome project! I love the collaboration between you and your granddaughter, you did a great job accentuating her art!

  7. Leave a Reply

    Brenda J
    May 27, 2016

    How absolutely beautiful! This will likely be Juniper’s favorite quilt, and you’ve treated it like the art that that it is. How lovely the memories that this will bring, kudos!

  8. Leave a Reply

    Janine R
    May 28, 2016

    This is absolutely stunning! Who knew a work of art was lurking inside a simple child’s project. I hope she will treasure this forever.

  9. Leave a Reply

    May 28, 2016

    Hi! So glad you went “bold” and used the green…….you ‘rocked’ it!!!!! The many lines are very effective, too!! Great use of a piece of fabric art!

  10. Leave a Reply

    Elsie Bulva
    May 28, 2016

    What an amazing creative endeavour that will last your’s and Juniper’s lifetime. What a great conversation piece and treasure for the future.

  11. Leave a Reply

    Brenda Duran
    May 30, 2016

    What an absolutely stunning piece of art work. Something as simple as Juniper’s art and you making it truly pop with your own art!!! Great job by both!!!! Thanks so much for sharing.

  12. Leave a Reply

    May 30, 2016

    Amazing for sure but yikes woman are you a glutton for punishment with all those straight lines! But you made it yours and very special!

  13. Leave a Reply

    Barbara Campbell
    December 31, 2016

    You are absolutely amazing! A simple piece of artwork from a child becomes a masterpiece with your talented touch. The inspiration you provide is much appreciated. Love your work!

  14. Leave a Reply

    April 18, 2020

    What kind of paint did you use? Thank you!!

    • Leave a Reply

      April 18, 2020

      This was just tempera paint, but you could use anything except watercolor to get this effect. It won’t be washed as an art quilt so don’t worry too much about that.

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