Tag Archives: relief quilting

Relief Quilting Words in Negative Space {Tutorial}

I don’t write on my quilts. I have yet to find a pen or pencil that I trust enough, so I just avoid it as much as possible. I use a Clover Hera Marker* for marking straight lines, which is fabulous since it creases the fabric without actually leaving a mark. (*Affiliate link) But when it comes to complex designs or words, I either have to eye it or just wing it.

When I thought of the idea to write baby Reagan’s name in the heart speech bubble of her Pinkalicious Hazel Hedgehog quilt, I knew there must be a way to get her name to show up accurately but subtly among the matchstick quilting I had planned within the heart. Enter: Freezer Paper. I’ve had freezer paper in my sewing space for over a year, since Grammy June told me it was a must have for paper piecing back when I was first learning. Since I really enjoy foundation paper piecing using plain old copy paper, I have yet to touch the freezer paper. Until today.

TUTORIAL- Relief Quilting Words

Here’s a quick little tutorial on how I used freezer paper to help quilt words in negative space.

Relief Quilting Words in Negative Space

Step 1

relief quilting of words in matchstick quilting with freezer paperGather your materials. You will need:

  • Freezer Paper (I’ve read high quality brands like Reynolds work better than Costo-type brands)
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Thread for quilting (I used 50wt Aurifil variegated thread)
  • Your quilt!
  • Optional: printer paper and printer
Step 2

relief quilting tutorialPrint a sample of the word you want to quilt, scaled to fit in the proper space. Trace onto the dull side of the freezer paper (shiny side away from you). Alternately, you could just draw the letters onto the dull side of the freezer paper–entirely up to your desired look.

Step 3:

relief quilting tutorialCut out the letters carefully, using paper-cutting scissors (not your special fabric ones!)

relief quilting tutorialArrange on your quilt as desired.

Step 4

relief quilting tutorial(Note: before ironing your letters to your actual quilt, always test the freezer paper on a scrap of the same fabric. The freezer paper should stick to the fabric, and after cooling should be easily peeled off without leaving any mark or residue.) Iron your letters to your quilt. The shiny side of the freezer paper will stick to the fabric.

Step 5

relief quilting tutorialMatchstick quilt around the letters. I used Aurifil 50wt variegated Bubblegum-3660 to match the background fabric, since I wanted the name to be subtle. Use contrasting thread to make the name stand out more.

Relief Quilting DiagramHere is a *rough* sketch of the path I took while quilting. I used my walking foot to matchstick quilt the entire background, stitching two stitches in the ditch along the outsides of the heart to travel from line to line, rather than having a *million* thread ends to bury. I actually stitched every other line backwards, holding down the “sew in reverse” button for the entire line of quilting. This was easier to me than maneuvering my entire quilt back and forth, and worked just as effectively.

relief quilting tutorialNote: After using your walking foot to matchstick quilt the background (around the periphery of the letters), some of the freezer paper letters may have come unstuck. 

relief quilting words tutorialIron them on again, using the little indents (if your letters had any) as a guide.

Relief Quilting FMQNext, free motion quilt the matchstick quilting within and between the letters, since the space is so small and back and forth quilting is much easier free motion style (you don’t have to twist and turn your entire quilt like you would using a walking foot!). Be sure not to quilt onto the freezer paper.

Step 6

relief quilting words tutorialPeel off the freezer paper letters. Bury any threads.

Step 7

relief quilting words tutorialAdmire your relief quilted name!

I’m linking up with Late Night Quilter’s Tips & Tutorials Tuesday. I hope you found this helpful, and let me know if you try it!