by Karen Marchetti
Gammill Quilt Artist

Rocks, Trees, and Snakes – Finding Inspiration in Textures

I am intrigued by texture. Being part of this amazing quilting community, I’m finding more and more that others are too.  From fabric to quilting stitches, do you find yourself touching instead of looking – you’ve just got to touch? If you answered yes, you are probably also intrigued by texture.

I tend to look to nature for inspiration — tree bark, rocks, clouds, flower petals, tall grass, and leaves, even mud drying in the sun – all of these make for interesting textures and as a result can become amazing ideas for quilting. If you stitch them large they become all-over patterns, while shrinking them down would make awesome fills. I find myself wandering through home improvement stores — simple items like floor tiles, marble slabs, and wood will spark ideas for the most amazing quilting patterns. But, it doesn’t stop there. Start looking for textures anywhere – an office supply store, your own kitchen! I am constantly looking for patterns and interesting textures. I always have my phone with me to photograph things of interest. I have so many photos that I’ll probably never use but, if maybe one or two of them have a special element that might work, it makes all of them so worthwhile.

What I’m finding out more and more is many people see a photo and can’t quite translate what they see into quilting stitches. With all the technology available, there must be an aid for this translation, right? Yes, there are many photo editing apps available, I tend to mostly use Prisma, Enlight, and PS Express – there are many to choose from, find one that works for you.

In this article I’m going to share some of my photos with you – both as an actual photo as well as an after photo using filters available on the apps. I’m hoping you are amazed by how well the textures translate with use of the filters. I’m going to warn you now; I have a real problem with tree bark.

The first picture is of the glass in my front door – oodles of texture happening here but, for some, it might be difficult to translate the texture. The photo on the right shows a different look by using a filter:


Now that texture has become easily stitchable.

This photo is a close up of outdoor upholstery fabric. I hear many people state they are apprehensive to quilt grid work and/or use rulers because they might have a little imperfection or two. This shows that a grid can still be beautiful even if the stitching is unevenly spaced. Some of these lines are wider than others. Again, the photo on the right is using a filter, which helps to translate the visual perception making it much easier to see the pattern.


Another texture that many are uneasy about is pebbles. Why? Because they feel their circles aren’t perfectly round. Guess what, nature isn’t perfect either! There is absolutely no reason to fret when stitching pebbles. I like when they are all different sizes, it adds visual appeal! Look at this photo of fish tank gravel – essentially pebbles, right? Look what happens when we add a filter – a bunch of tiny misshaped pebbles! Quilt away with your odd little circles – you’re simulating nature!


This photo shows the edges of my sketchbook; on the right the filter is added. This texture is one that I use a lot while quilting. You’ll see in the filtered photo there are open areas as well as shaded areas. Ruler work! The open areas would be unquilted space, while the shaded areas would be filled with a nice background fill. This works perfect for borders – why not take that piano key border one step further – try different spacing of the quilted and unquilted areas.


This next photo shows a replacement roller for my laser printer. I love the texture on the roller – it would be great for water, sand, as well as a general all over fill. Lines don’t have to be straight to be effective!


Okay, I warned you about the tree bark… Here are several samples of tree bark photos along with their filtered results:






Okay, maybe my obsession doesn’t stop with just the bark. Here is a tree trunk with an amazing root structure. If you were quilting a tree with roots, it might seem a little daunting – just break it down into shapes and lines and it becomes a bit easier.


This next photo is of a pool patio (and yes, it is a bit blurry, no worries). The texture may look overwhelming in the original photo but, add a cool filter and look what happens! So much visual stimulation happening now – the eye has multiple surfaces, sizes, and densities to keep interest.


Wood grain – yet another of my favorite textures:



Here are some more really cool textures:

14 15 15b 16 17 18


What might inspire you – a trip to the zoo, botanical garden, your own backyard? Look at everything and take too many pictures – you might just be surprised!


Karen Marchetti

Gammill Quilt Artist – www.gammill.com


Karen’s website: www.creativelongarmquilting.com


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