Translate Words Into Fabric Collage

Words and fabric collage are two of my favorite things. So I get excited when I see a way of putting them together in the same project.

fabric collage with text
Fabric collage wall hanging with transferred
text, by Bethan Ash.

I discovered this relatively easy method for how to make a collage of words and fabric in the new book Vibrant Quilt Collage by Bethan Ash.

You'll need large fabric scraps or fat quarters, iron-on transfer paper, fusible interfacing, muslin for backing, a computer and ink-jet printer, a sewing machine and sewing supplies.


1. Pick six words for color – such as blue, green, turquoise – and translate into 4 different languages.

2. Type the words out on your computer, enlarge, reverse, and print out onto iron-on transfer paper.

3. To make the pieced background, select 6 fabrics in matching colors to your chosen words.

4. To prepare the background, cut the cotton fabric and interfacing into six 12" × 16" (30.5 × 40.5 cm) blocks. Iron the rough side of the interfacing to the wrong side of one of the blocks, using a dry hot iron. Repeat this process on the remaining five blocks.

5. Cut out your printed words and sort into separate color piles.

6. Take one of the fabric blocks and place it face up on a flat surface. Start applying the matching color words by laying each face down onto the surface of the corresponding block, and heat transfer following the manufacturer's instructions.

7. When all the words have been applied to all the blocks, lay the blocks out on a flat surface in a sequence of 2 across by 3 down. Join the strips using a sewing machine, with a straight stitch and a 3⁄8" (1 cm) seam allowance.

8. Once you have finished joining all the blocks, open the seams, cover with a cloth, spray, and press with a hot iron so that the seam allowances lay flat.

9. To prepare for quilting, place the muslin backing right side down, add the layer of batting or interlining, then place the color block panel on top, right side up. Pin the layers together.

10. Stitch randomly through the layers many times, using straight stitch and a variety of colored threads, removing the pins as you go. Repeat until the background is stitched to your satisfaction, and any raw edges are covered.

11. Finally, press, trim, hand-bind the edges, and sew a sleeve for hanging on the back near the top edge.

If you wanted to omit some of the sewing, you could simply fuse the blocks to craft felt. You could also change up the words. For example, to make a fabric collage wall hanging for a housewarming gift, you might use the words "house," "family," and "love" in different languages.

Bethan explores many processes, exercises, and projects for combining collage with fabric in her book. I recommend Vibrant Quilt Collage to anyone who likes to combine collage, color, and fabric.

P.S. What word or words would you put on a fabric collage? Leave your answer below.


Blog, Collage, Fabric Art, Mixed-Media Techniques


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