Water Lily Quilt: A Touch of Hawaii Without All The Work



As I was looking through the original samples from the Paintstiks on Fabric book, I was reminded how far we have come on this Paintstik adventure. I say “we” because it really has been a shared journey. I have had the opportunity to teach thousands of students and readers to use Paintstiks on fabric, and I have learned more from you than I could ever have imagined.

Today, let’s take a look at the Water Lily quilt that I made a number of years ago. I enjoyed the fact that it required far less time than a traditional Hawaiian quilt. (And today, it would be even faster!)

[Tweet “Make a Hawaiian-style quilt (in a hurry) with Paintstiks on Fabric.”]


Photo from Paintstiks on Fabric book

This is the photo from the book that got me thinking about the Water Lily Quilt. To make this stencil, I cut a stencil from a folded sheet of freezer paper, pressed it to the fabric with a warm iron, and added the image with Paintstik color and a stencil brush.



Cutout from my Water Lily design

Several years later, I was teaching at a machine quilting conference in Duluth, MN. Helen Smith Stone, the show coordinator, sent out a couple of pieces of fabric and asked the instructors to make a small quilt for a charity auction. The only requirement was that it had to be machine quilted.

I can paint a whole lot faster than I can appliqué, so I decided to cut a Hawaiian-style stencil and turn it into a small quilt.



Freezer paper stencil for painting Water Lily image

We didn’t have nearly as many iridescent Paintstik colors at that time. For this piece, I started with Pink in the center, then worked my way out through Purple, Dark Blue, Turquoise, and perhaps a little bit of Green. (All iridescent colors.)



Painted fabric after stencil was removed

After the stencil was removed, I decided that some thread painting (by machine) was in order to add a bit of texture.



Detail of completed Water Lily Quilt

I changed thread frequently to stay consistent with the paint color, and was pleased with the way it looked. I was not, however, pleased with the amount of shrinkage due to the stitching – in spite of the added stabilizers.

I only had the one piece of fabric, so there was no turning back. I layered the wavy top with batting and backing, said a prayer, and carefully stitched around the perimeter of the painted design. I wasn’t sure if I had a snowball’s chance in hell of this thing turning out flat, but the only way to find out was to keep going.



Water Lily Quilt by Shelly Stokes

As I stitched around the design, the quilt flattened out – at least in the center. Luckily, the Quilting Gods smiled down on my work, and the quilting in the border was enough to tame the last of the (very) wavy edges. After a good blocking, the Water Lily Quilt was ready for binding and her appearance in the charity auction.

[Tweet “A Silhouette Cameo would make a Hawaiian-style quilt even faster.”]

If I Were To Make This Again…

It’s great fun to look back at projects I completed years ago –– and to think about how I would create them today. So, how would I make the Water Lily Quilt?

For most of the project, I wouldn’t change a thing. Paintstiks, fabric, freezer paper stencil. Check, check, check. Creating that stencil? That’s a whole different story!

The biggest change in my fabric art toolbox is the addition of my Silhouette Cameo cutting machine. Rather than folding freezer paper, drawing a design, cutting by hand and hoping for something I liked, I would definitely head straight to my Silhouette software and cutting machine. And for good reasons:

  • Creating a design – or tracing one drawn on paper – is easy to do in the Silhouette software.
  • The ability to see the full design and make changes before cutting anything cuts a whole lot of time out of the design process.
  • The actual cutting is much faster (and more accurate) when the Silhouette Cameo does the work.

And now, of course, my brain is spinning with ideas for creating Hawaiian-style designs with the Silhouette. And Extreme Stenciling. And Hand Embroidery. And…

Oh goodness. From a Water Lily Quilt to a whole new Paintstiks on Fabric adventure. Here we go again!


Your Turn

Do you find inspiration in your old projects when you take a trip down memory lane? Do you ever think about how you would make them differently today? Leave a comment below to share your story.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]



  1. Aleeda on September 29, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Quick and beautiful. Two REALLY important traits.

    • ShellyStokes on September 30, 2016 at 8:56 am

      I agree, Aleeda. I love the look of appliqué, but I don’t have the patience for the traditional needle-turn method.

  2. Brenda Stirling on September 29, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    I just love this project. I do not have a silhouette cutting machine,
    is there any other way this project could be done?

    • ShellyStokes on September 30, 2016 at 8:58 am

      Not a problem, Brenda. I made this long before the Silhouette machine was on the market. For the Water Lily, I cut a stencil from folded freezer paper using the traditional Hawaiian quilt method. But, instead of appliqué, I painted instead.

  3. Beth Sherman on September 29, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    I love what you have done! I do not have a Silhouette machine but I may beg a friend to cut my design out.
    Thanks for the great inspiration.

    • ShellyStokes on September 30, 2016 at 9:01 am

      You’re welcome, Beth. I’m glad you found inspiration in this little project.

      You can actually cut these stencils the old fashioned way by folding freezer paper and using a sharp pair of scissors. But a friend with a cutting machine is a lovely friend indeed! ?

  4. Elizabeth A. Franck on September 29, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    Nature has been my inspiration for most of my life. Since childhood, I have been drawing and taking photographs. My notebooks of images inspired by these creative activities have been the source of many surface design excursions into fiber art using inks, paints, paintstiks, and pencils plus raw-edged applique resulting in many samples and ufo’s as well as some finished art quilts.
    Last week, after seeing your Hawaiian-style inspired pattern, I opened a notebook and found my daffodil and floral inspired paper cuttings from about ten years ago.
    I am very interest in working with a Silhouette Cameo Cutting Machine. Using online resources, I am learning about my options. It appears that a Cameo 3 would offer more features than a Cameo 2, for instance, the “3” features two vs. one cutting blade. Since you have experience using the Silhouette system, I would appreciate your recommendations. I don’t want to invest in an earlier model, only to find out that it will not be adequate for my needs.

    • ShellyStokes on September 30, 2016 at 9:13 am

      Oh, I’m so glad you were inspired to browse through your art journals, Elizabeth. They are surely full of treasures!

      As for the Silhouette machines… Everything I have done so far has been on a Cameo 1. I did not purchase a Cameo 2 because there was not enough difference between the 1 and the 2.

      I have a new Cameo 3, but have not had the opportunity to work with it much due to my travels. The machine does have allow for two cutting blades. One is the auto-blade that self-adjusts based on the material you are cutting. It also allows a wireless (bluetooth) connection, which is helpful if you are not able to put your machine next to your computer. I’ll be able to offer a better opinion after I spend more time with the machine.

      • Elizabeth A. Franck on October 3, 2016 at 12:54 pm

        Thank you for your response re: Silhouette. I look forward to your evaluation of the Cameo 3. They have cameo 3 at Walmart as well as many other sites online.
        U-tube videos provided some good info on Silhouettes; however, I would prefer your assessment since I will be using it for your classes to draw patterns as well as cutting stencils. What do you think of the drawing capability? Have you used it to cut fabric?

        Since I have signed up for a class, I have gathered my paintstiks, rubbing plates, stamps and stencils – and plunged into creating a “new” look to some batik fabrics
        that I have not used. What a difference!

        At the beginning of Sept., I fractured the radius in my right arm…. cast is to be removed this Thursday. Since I am left handed, I can draw, etc. but limited when lifting or when I need both hands -i.e., holding the ruler in place when rotary cutting. However, I am managing, at a much slower pace. Looking forward to starting the class, in earnest – within a week or so, after cast removal and some therapy to rebuild strength and flexibility.

        Question: Is there a quick way to get back to this location within your site?
        Again, thank you for your feedback. Elizabeth

        • Elizabeth A. Franck on October 3, 2016 at 12:57 pm

          I answered my question – blog – for direct access to here!

          • Elizabeth A. Franck on October 3, 2016 at 2:26 pm

            The doorbell rang while I was replying before…. WOW! Guess what a package from you -The Design Magic Blowout Special 1 – with Book, Design Packet and 4 sets of positive/negative stencils for $13.95 arrived. I have 4 sets of stencils and the ones you sent are different patterns…. fantastic. By the way, I just ordered it this past weekend.

            I have read a good part of the book and ready to start creating some new stencil designs using the Japanese method you present….

            Thank you…. Elizabeth

          • ShellyStokes on October 4, 2016 at 10:43 am

            I’m glad you are having fun, Elizabeth. Fun stuff in the mail is good!