DIY Quilted Modern Art

Make your own quilted modern art for a huge design impact!Hi, guys and gals! It’s Mandi here. Quilts are a great way to add a graphic, handmade look to a bedroom, but what about in the living room? I’ve been wanting to add a quilted touch to the other rooms in our home, but there are only so many quilted pillows you can throw on a sofa before reaching crazy-old-lady status, and I wasn’t loving the look of hanging quilts on our leaning ladder for display. Again, too granny.

After mulling over my quilt inspiration, and having always been an admirer of Ethan Cook‘s, I thought I’d make my own graphic quilt and mount it on the wall as modern art. I completed this project in one day, and it makes such an impact in our living room! Check out how I did it below.

Make your own quilted modern art for a huge design impact!
Make your own quilted modern art for a huge design impact!
-fabric (I used muslin and a mustard yellow linen)
-lightweight batting sheet

-sewing machine

-safety pins
-staple gun
-fabric scissors
-craft blade (optional)
-painter’s tape (optional)

Make your own quilted modern art for a huge design impact!Step One: Cut out your base fabric to be about 5″ wider than your stretcher frame. Then cut out the pieces that you want to applique over top of it. Keep in mind that you will lose about 1″ around the edge of the applique pieces from the next step. I cut my rectangles to be a bit wavy around the edges to add a quirky look, rather than making perfectly straight edges. I liked that the rectangles in Ethan Cook’s art aren”t perfectly straight, and wanted the same kind of vibe for my own.

Helpful Tip: You may find it helpful to sketch out your design before committing the scissors to your fabric.

Step Two: Turn down a 1/2″ edge around the border of the applique pieces and iron it crisp.

Make your own quilted modern art for a huge design impact!Step Three: Pin the ironed applique shapes into place as shown above.

Step Four: Sew the applique pieces into place, sewing closely along the edge of each one.

Make your own quilted modern art for a huge design impact!Step Five: Draw the quilting lines onto the finished quilt top. I used a T-square and drew vertical lines on the background, and horizontal lines on the applique pieces. I made the distance between the lines to be the width of the T-square, because it made drawing the lines easier.

Step Six: Sandwich the sheet of batting between the quilt top and a sheet of muslin. Each of these layers should be perfectly stretched out and wrinkle free. I used painter’s tape to stretch out each layer to make sure they were perfectly smooth.

Make your own quilted modern art for a huge design impact!Step Seven: Use safety pins across the surface of the quilt to attach all three layers together. This will keep the fabric in place and will help prevent sewn-in creases from forming while sewing.

Step Eight: Stitch on top of the drawn lines with a wide stitch. If you want to hand stitch the quilt lines—be my guest! I thought about it for a second, but thinking about it exhausted my entire quota of patience.

Helpful Tip: Start at the top middle of the quilt. Sew from the top to the bottom in the same direction for every line. This will prevent the fabric from bunching unequally. I sewed from the middle to the right about halfway, then from the middle to the left halfway, and then I repositioned the safety pins because the fabric had shifted a bit as I sewed. Then I finished each edge before moving on to each applique piece. After sewing, I pulled the fabric strings through to the back of the quilt.

Make your own quilted modern art for a huge design impact!Step Nine: Use clamps to stretch the finished quilt tightly around the stretcher frame. Staple the fabric along the rounded edge of the back of the stretchers.

Step Ten: To finish the corners, pull in the corner of the fabric, then pull in each side of the corner. After stapling all around the edge of the frame, you can use a blade to cut off the excess fabric about 1/8″ from the staple line.

Make your own quilted modern art for a huge design impact!Make your own quilted modern art for a huge design impact!I finished my quilt art with a simple framing technique. You could also leave it unframed. This project is completely customizable to whatever shape of style you like, and you don’t have to use it as art—it would make a nice headboard too! –Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Spring and Valentine of the Signature Collection.

  • Can you share the frame directions link that you refer to as upcoming? I can’t find it on your site. Thank you!

  • This is super cute! With the amount of scrap fabric I have this could be n awesome diy!

  • I love this so much. I grew up with a grandma that was always behind a sewing machine, quilting, and this remind me of her. I’m definitely going to try this.

  • I made the not-straight lines on purpose, but it’s very easy to do the same project but with 90 degree corners and straighter lines. Though my squares are a bit more quirky, I did keep my stitched lines perfect straight using a T-square. This project is done according to my own home’s style, but of course you should make decor decisions that fit in with what YOU like. 🙂


  • this looks great and brings something unexpected in the living area!

  • Hey Sanda! Sorry you were offended by the term granny. It’s an actual decorating term used, and not in a derogatory manner. It’s used to describe decor using crochet, cross-stitch, quilt, and even floral designs in decor, and it’s pretty popular. I myself used to use it in our old 1920s apartment, but it doesn’t fit in our mid century modern ranch. You can check out Emma Lamb’s beautiful Granny Chic Pinterest boards for more of that style if you’re into it. Check her out here:

    Also, I used “crazy old lady” as a tongue-in-cheek attempt at humor in conjunction with the design term granny. One might also say “crazy cat lady” or “crazy young kids” without meaning ill-will towards those who own cats or are young. 🙂


  • Sure! I used a 36″x48″ frame made from heavy duty stretchers I bought at a discount art supply store. The muslin fabric I bought was from the quilting section at JoAnn. It’s sort of sheer, but when you layer it with batting and more muslin on the back, it’s fine to hang on the wall. The amount of fabric I bought for my frame was 3.5 yards. I cut that amount in half and used one half for the decorative side and the other half for the back of the “sandwich,” so to speak. 🙂


  • This is so awesome, it turned out great! I would have never thought to use such a bedroom-related textile in the living room but it makes a surprisingly modern and unexpected statement piece.

  • This is so cool! I have a friend who knits panels and then paints abstract color/shapes on them with acrylics… I’m really digging the whole painted textile/texture thing these days!

    <3 dani

  • Thanks for the idea! Could you provide more information on the size stretcher frame you used as well as the amount of muslin fabric required?

  • This is really, really cool Mandi! It’s so different and unique 🙂


    Laurali Star

  • I always love what you do, but i hate this, sorry!!!!!! but I dont like it, not even the colors.. btw I Love the rest of thing what you guys do


  • Whoa! It’s huge! I love it (that’s what she said).

    What a fun idea, I would love to try this. Also, I’m totally picturing someone trying to use this frame-quilt as a blanket and it’s making me lol.

  • gorgeous! love that color yellow!


  • Hey,

    Just and idea, but you could vacuum the piece to keep dust off! 🙂

  • This is so sweet! Such a fun piece! Can’t wait for the frame!

  • I’ve been wanting to make something similar to this as a framed piece above our headboard. I love it!


  • Hold on a minute! Cut the ageist comments. Please. Out of date, not hip, should not be labelled granny or old lady crazy. How about just out of date, dated, old fashioned, boring…you have lots of adjectives to choose from.
    I’m a grandmother and I can assure you I do not have any of the aforementioned pillows.

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    would mean a lot if you would comment what you think of my tag and link your page so i can look at your tag 🙂 thank you have a nice day

  • This is so awesome. I love how simple and effective it is and definitely looking forward to seeing how to make the frame!

  • This is great and useful tutorial. I am just surprised to see all the process that you have used to come up with this art work. Great job done keep it up!!

  • I am a very neurotic person, so I would be bothered by the not-straight lines of the mustard yellow fabric in this…
    And I would not be bothered by the “granny-ness” of the quilts on the couch, they just make things cosy! I would worry about the quilt on the wall becoming too dusty, and you can’t wash it anymore.

  • Great DYI! I should try, thanks!


    LivRiot on Bloglovin’ & I’ll follow back 🙂

  • WOW – I love this idea!
    It’s perfect for your living room.

    Greetings & Love

  • Such a great DIY idea! It’s a beautiful minimalistic piece to have!


  • I like the organized chaos feel in this. By that, I mean how the mustard patches aren’t perfectly straight. Will you ever share a post with the mess-ups that happen while putting together a post like this? (If everything works perfectly the first time, nevermind!)

  • I really like modern art and this is such a creative project again! I really love this one!

  • I’ve never seen a quilt like that, it’s so unique! It’ll definitely be a conversation starter for guests! 😉

  • I love that it’s not crafty and more of a work of art. I’m not too crazy about quits, nothing against them. They just remind me of grannies (which is not a bad thing), just don’t want to decorate my home grandma style. This is so modern and minimalist. It could be a cool inspiration board pin too. LOVE IT!!

  • Wow! What an awesome idea! This is a great way to use up your scraps!

  • I could totally see this as a killer headboard! Another thing to add to my to do list before school starts!

  • Great idea! Love the idea of using the technique for a headboard! Loving all of your tutorials xx

  • Never seen anything like this before!


  • Could be interesting way to use up scraps if you have 100’s like I do

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