The Impressionist Quit – Like Impressionist Painting, but with Quilting

Few of use will ever be fortunate enough to own a great Impressionist painting or even see one in person, but there is no reason why we can’t learn to make our own Impressionist work of art using fabric in the form of a quilt. The idea is to blend hundreds of quilt squares into a luminous fabric painting. There is no applique, no strip sewing — just simple piecing of squares on point. You will use printed fabrics to create a beautiful impressionist masterpiece.
“Hands on” means to learn by doing — until you start working on an impressionist quilt project, you won’t begin to comprehend the the idea of building a quilt that appears as a landscaped garden, a meadow, or even a cascading waterfall.


IMPRESSIONISM IS A STYLE OF PAINTING that originated in France during the middle of the nineteenth century. Artists like Monet, Renoir, and Pizarro shocked the art world with their revolutionary approach to painting. They shunned the rigidly controlled atmosphere of the indoor studio, preferring to paint in the open air. Here they captured the fragile beauty of a delicate bouquet of flowers or the elegant simplicity in a quiet country scene. The Impressionists were obsessed with natural light and their interpretation of one perfect moment frozen in time. Monet is famous for his cathedral and haystack series painted at different times of day to illustrate the changing effect of light on color. Impressionist painters used unblended pigments and applied them directly to the canvas with snort, swift brush strokes. They broke the individual elements of a painting into many separate colors to obtain a luminous impression of the whole; the effect was softened outlines, with one area blending into another. By using warm-cool color contrasts and value changes, the artists created illusions of light.

Your goal is to become landscape impressionists quilters and to interpret nature in a similar fashion as painters, but with fabric and quilts rather than paint — it’s that simple.


The impressionist quilting technique is different from the watercolor technique is that all of the squares are placed and sewn on point rather than on square and in straight rows. Placing the squares on point helps to create the illusion of a real painting. The edges of the squares soften and there is a gentler blending from one color area to another. This somewhat shows itself in some Amish styled quilts. Look at the different ways in which they set the Sunshine and Shadows pattern — you will find that the quilts with the squares set on point have more vitality. The colors are also more interactive, blending and transmit illusions of transparency.

Another important difference in this impressionist quilting technique is that many of the flower squares are cut by hand to ensure it is filled by the whole flower and it is centered in each square. This sounds like more work (and it is), but the end result is well worth the extra effort.

With the Impressionist quilting technique you are striving to create an actual picture, not an abstract arrangement of light and shadow. By using flower prints for the floral areas, leaf prints for the trees, tie-dyed and marbleized fabrics for the sky, and textured prints for hills and mountains, you can visualize your picture as real looking as possible without actually painting on the fabric.