DRIFTING TO PARADISE – pictorial quilt

Elvis Elvis

“Drifting to Paradise” is a pictorial quilt. I made this quilt as a gift for my great-nephew. My nephew and his wife wanted a quilt with hot air balloons, since he proposed to her in one. I designed this quilt with their wishes in mind. Since many of the pieces are large, I have no pattern for them. They are very easy to make free handed. The patterns are just suggestions of what to put on the quilt. The fun part of this quilt was being able to be creative. Once you decide what you want in your picture, the actual sewing of the quilt is very easy. Since “Drifting to Paradise” is a pictorial quilt, it is very easy to change the size of the quilt.

DRIFTING TO PARADISE   pictorial quilt

1 1/4 yard of light blue material for the sky

1/4 yard each of three different greens for the grass and tree

scraps of brown fabric for the tree trunk, path, and balloon baskets

small amount of assorted fabric for the balloons and flowers

white fabric for the clouds

1 1/4 yards of fabric for inner border.

1 1/4 yard of fabric for outer border

1 1/2 yards of backing material

1 1/2 yards of batting

small piece of yellow felt for flower centers

white (or any color you like) felt for the three bears in the balloon baskets

rick-rack for the balloons

black & green embroidery floss

fabric glue

fabric markers


1. Trace the three balloon patterns, baskets, and the tree top on fusible webbing with pencil or permanent fabric marker. Place at least 3/4 inches apart. Cut roughly apart. Cut a slit in the webbing and turn inside out. Clip curves to help the pieces lay flat.

2. Pin patterns on the fabric you choose. Cut roughly apart. Sew with a small running stitch. Cut apart, leaving a 1/8 inch seam allowance. Set aside.

3. Cut blue “sky” material 29 1/2 inches by 38 1/2 inches. When you are done sewing all the pieces on the fabric, you will be trimming it to 27 1/2 by 36 1/2 inches. Keep this is mind as you are placing your applique pieces.

4. Cut the green fabric you choose for the bottom grass about 8 inches by the width of the blue fabric.

5. Cut one edge of the width to look like rolling hills

6. Cut the remaining greens in the same way, but they should be narrower than the first green.

7. Cut strips of brown for the paths. I made the strips narrower as they went toward the sky.

8. Lay the green fabrics on the bottom of the blue sky fabric for placement. Overlap the fabrics. Pin green fabrics together and remove from “sky” fabric. Pin the brown “path” strips on the appropriate green fabric. Using needle-turn applique, stitch the sides in place. Tuck the top under the green fabric.

9. Using needle-turn applique, stitch the bottom green fabric to the middle fabric, and then the middle fabric to the top fabric. Press seams toward darker color.

10. Pin green fabrics to “sky” fabric. Attach the top using needle-turn applique. Leave the sides and bottom free, since it will be sewn into the border.

11. Place the tree trunk on the fabric. Using needle turn applique, stitch the sides and bottom. You don’t need to sew the top because the tree top will cover it.

12. Pin the tree top on top of the trunk, placing it a scant 1/4 inch over the trunk. Stitch in place with a small slant stitch.

13. Trace the flower patterns on the fabrics of your choice. Cut out, leaving a scant 1/4 inch seam allowance. Attach the felt flower centers with fabric glue. Pin to green fabric, using needle-turn applique, attach to fabric.

14. With green embroidery floss, backstitch stem and leaves to flowers.

15. Place the three balloons on the “sky” fabric. Stitch in place using a slant stitch.

16. Pin the baskets below the balloons. Stitch in place, leaving the top open for the bear. Use the black embroidery floss to stitch the cords that attach the balloon to the basket.

17. Trace three bears on felt. Using fabric markers draw eyes, nose, mouth, and other detail on the bears. Cut out and glue into the basket.

18. Add any other detail, such as clouds, you want.

19. Trim to 27 1/2 by 36 1/2 inches.


1. Cut two strips of inner border fabric 1 1/2 inches by the length of the fabric, which should be 36 1/2 inches.

2. Stitch in place with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. (I prefer to do this on a sewing machine.) Press toward dark fabric.

3. Cut the remaining 2 inner borders 1 1/2 inches by the width, including side borders. Stitch it place with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Press.

4. Repeat for outer borders which are 3 1/2 inches wide.


1. Lay back fabric print side down on a large flat surface (the floor works great) Smooth and pin or tape to surface to keep flat.

2. Lay batting on top of quilt back, then smooth flat.

3. Lay quilt top on top of batting, smooth out any wrinkles. Baste the three layers together using contrasting thread or quilting pins.

4. You are now ready to quilt your project.


1. Cut the binding fabric (I like to use the same fabric as my outer border) 2 inches by the length of the quilt, plus 2 inches. Press strip in half.

2. Pin the open edge of the binding to the edge of the quilt. Sew together using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Trim even with quilt.

3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 for the remaining two sides.

4. Fold to back of quilt and stitch in place with a slanted hem stitch.