Photo of collage quilt of a squirrel
Finished projects

A Quilt Finish: Hazel Nutt Squirrel Pattern by Laura Heine – a gateway drug into art quilting

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Last month I FINALLY finished making the Hazel Nutt Squirrel pattern by Laura Heine. I posted photos of my version of Hazel Nutt on my Facebook and Instagram pages right after we hung her on the wall, but it’s taken FOREVER for me to find time to actually sit down and write about the process here on the blog.  My defense is simply this: I’ve needed to sew. (Who can blame me for THAT?)

Photo of Hazelnut Squirrel Quilt hanging on a wall
Hazelnut Quilt in her new home

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You’ve probably seen a few of these around the internet, and I even saw one in our local quilt show a few weeks back.If you’re not familiar with Laura’s work, you can find out more about her on her website, Fiberworks. She has about a zillion collage patterns and they are all amazing .

Art Quilting with the Collage Technique

I actually started working on Hazel Nutt last summer and finished the top fairly quickly. It was my first art quilt, and the process was surprisingly easy. Phase 1 was tracing the design onto pattern ease, which is like a thin papery fabric. It sort of has the texture of interfacing.

Photo showing the initial pattern traced before making the collage quilt
Hazel Nutt design traced onto the pattern ease.

Phase 2 was selecting my fabrics, which were then fused with Steam-a-seam and then cut into strips.

Photo showing a palette of fabrics in reds golds oranges and purples
Fabrics I chose to use in my Hazel Nutt Quilt

The fun really began when I started arranging my strips and playing with the colors. The collage technique was something I had not played with in quite some time, and I found it completely relaxing.

a close up photo of a collage quilt depicting a squirrel
Close up of Hazel Nutt’s face

If I can ever get through the mountain of projects on my plate right now, I’d like to repeat the process with a design of my own. (I’d like to make an art quilt memorializing Freckles, our very much missed French Brittany.)

close up photo showing various motifs used in a collage quilt
Collage quilting – fun with motifs!

Matchstick Quilting

The kink in the process for me was finding the nerve to sandwich that thing and put it on my machine to quilt it. One thing that’s not exactly apparently before you start making one of these is that your quilt top is rather stiff. There is a lot of glue in that fusible product and lots of fabrics are overlapping each other a bit in the finished design. Before sandwiching, my Hazel had a texture similar to cardboard, and I was afraid that quilting her was going to cause my machine to throw a motor. So, I kept putting it off.

Image showing close up of Hazelnut Squirrel Quilt hanging on a wall
Hazelnut Squirrel Quilt in her new home

One of my quilting buddies, who does a lot of longarm quilting, had the solution for me: use a denim needle.

So, I sandwiched her and (aptly) used Tula Pink’s Orange Crush fabric from her Slow and Steady Line for the back. The red, pink and orange fabric features an assortment of forest animals.

Red orange and pink fabric with forest animals
Tula Pink Orange Crush fabric from her Slow and Steady collection

I decided to use the matchstick quilting technique in order to quilt Hazel. Initially, I was aiming for perfectly straight lines, but guiding the bulk of the quilt through my machine made that quite difficult.  After a few wonky lines I decided to just go with it. And that was probably a good call because the occasional wobble gave the quilt a much more organic feel to it.

a closeup photograph of collage quilt with straight matchstick quilting
Closeup of Matchstick quilting on my Hazel Nutt Quilt

I will tell you this about Matchstick quilting – it uses BOOKOOS of thread.  When I returned to the quilt shop for the third spool of thread within the space of a week, I prayed all the way there that they still had the color in stock!

closeup photo of collage quilt showing tight straight line quilting

Another shot of the matchstick quilting

The whole process was a lot of fun, and I am definitely hooked.  What about you? Have you tried one of Laura’s patterns?

Full view of collage quilt
Alternate view of Hazel Nutt Collage Quilt

2 thoughts on “A Quilt Finish: Hazel Nutt Squirrel Pattern by Laura Heine – a gateway drug into art quilting

  1. Wow! I love everything about this project!! I have never tried making a collage quilt. I don’t know if I could…I want to, though. I keep scrolling up to see your quilt. It’s fantastic…

    1. Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words! Pretty sure you could handle this…it’s pretty straightforward. (I wish I’d taken more pics of the “during” because you can try things out and move them around. It’s much like painting with fabric.) The key to the whole thing is the design that is drawn on the pattern ease at first, cause that serves are your boundaries. I will say that I wish I had started with one of Laurie’s smaller patterns, because they would have been less cumbersome to quilt.

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