Last month, I decided to try a fun technique from Pat Ferguson’s book Zen Quilting. Prior to this book, I had never heard of Zentangles but am now fascinated with them. A Zentangle is basically a structured version of doodling. It starts with an outline, which may or may not be roughly square, drawn on a 3 1/2″ piece of paper (a Zentangle tile). That shape is then filled with patterns. The finished piece is meant to have no up or down and can be displayed in any orientation.
With her book, Pat Ferguson takes this Zentangle art form and transfers it into machine quilting by creating patterns with continuous lines and then reproducing them in a larger size on fabric with machine stitching. The machine stitching can be enhanced by filling in areas or adding intricate decorative designs with a fine Pigma pen. The designs may also be colored, though the black and white style is traditional.
I had so much fun making these two 8.5″ mini-quilts and I am planning to do more. Not only does it help with creativity, it’s a very constructive way to practice free-motion quilting and helps with creating free motion quilting designs. It took me about 10 drawings to really start to like what I was doing and feel comfortable with it. I then chose the two Zentangles I liked most to turn into quilts. I chose to stick with the traditional approach of black thread on a white background (scary quilting territory!), black pen stitching, and filling in the border with white on white machine quilting. Next, I hope to try make a version where I color the fabric after I’ve stitched the design.