Composing a Landscape Quilt


Creating a landscape quilt involves more of a creative process rather than a pattern, so let’s take a look at the composition elements of some landscape quilts and think of ways we can implement these ideas in our own creations.


The first element to consider in a landscape quilt is the horizon. It is a common theme in all landscape quilts.

Notice the use of horizon in the following examples:

Patchwork Landscape by Jo Diggs 1993

Notice how the horizon is near the top of the quilt.

Summer Solstice by Leah Gravells

The horizon is near the bottom of this quilt.

Magical by Joanne Baeth

For this landscape quilt the horizon breaks at the center of the quilt. This is important for the reflection effect.

Placing the horizon in a dramatic location creates intensity. The foreground or sky do all the work when the horizon is placed at the opposite extreme. When the horizon is in the center of the quilt, balance becomes essential.

Try the following:

  • Place fabric strips on your design wall. Try to create a scene with the horizon near the top.
  • Move the strips around to create a low horizon. Fill the wall with sky.
  • What happens when you remove the horizon?
  • Move the horizon around. What feels the most pleasing for you?

You’ll notice, the horizon gives a measure of comfort to the viewer. It is a strong point of reference.



Value is used to create depth and movement in landscape quilts. Often times, that sense of moment comes from the way the artist plays with the light in the quilt.

To play with value, it helps to remove the color. Take a look at a few landscape quilts in grey scale.

Here is Jo Digg’s Patchwork Landscape again. Notice how she layers the lights and darks against each other. The landscape ripples with value. Can you see how she uses the values in vertical strips to create a shimmer? This adds another dimension to the viewer that they may feel more than they notice the actual visual effect.

Take a look at Summer Solstice by Leah Gravells in grey scale.

Joanne adds bits of light even in the dark areas. The gradation between light and dark has tiny fluctuations. This gives her quilt that┬á sparkle. When standing in front of it, you’d swear it was twinkling.

Removing the color also highlights the dramatic effects in this quilt. The result is breath taking.

Try the following:

  • Arrange strips on your design wall to create a landscape. Take a picture with your phone and use a grey scale filter to remove the color.
  • Move the lighter value strips directly beside the darkest strips. What happens?
  • Use a pack of paper ranging from grey to black. Cut various size strips and play with arranging them to create a landscape. What is easier or harder about working in grey scale rather than color?
  • As you work on your landscape piece, take a black and white picture of the quilt to evaluate your use of light and dark.
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Lynn Bell

Which issue of AQ has Leah Gravells “Summer Solstice?”

Hi Betsey Langford!
These are unbelievable. I recently opened a landscaping company in Santa Rosa, CA, and my design and architecture team are impressed with the creativeness of these quilts. I know writing about these topics is not always interesting, but you have taken landscaping to a whole new level.

Thank you so much!