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Kestrel Michaud


Classically-trained Fine Artist and Fabric Illustrator


Fabric Illustrations

Over the years, I have developed my own method of turning yards of cotton fabric into highly detailed works of fine art. My technique gives me the rare ability to create multiple versions of each design that are entirely unique images unto themselves. That sounds a bit confusing, so I'm going to take this opportunity to provide a bit more info on my process of creating fabric illustrations.

What is a fabric illustration?

An original fabric illustration is a work of art created from individual pieces of fabric assembled together like a mosaic or collage. It's a one-of-a-kind creation that is the result and embodiment of my artistic vision. When I set out to create a brand new fabric picture, an original fabric illustration is what comes from my creative passion.

Before I can get to cutting the fabric and assembling the fabric pieces, I have to design the artwork layout itself and create my all-important template.

The all-important template

Each one of my fabric illustrations begins life as a design that I turn into a template. The template is absolutely critical. It's my roadmap for every picture, because I use it to work out colors and keep track of where each fabric piece needs to go.

This is a picture of the template I created for Marsh Wren.

Marsh Wren Template
Marsh Wren Template

I designed Marsh Wren to be 8" x 8" with an extra ½" all the way around (see the thin black rule) for easy matting when framed. That makes the finished artwork 9" x 9".

You can also see the color blocks to the right. Each block indicates a different fabric. This picture will use 14 individual fabrics, plus one more for the background.

Lastly, every fabric piece gets a number. This is how I know which fabric pieces go where after everything is cut.

The finished fabric illustration of my Marsh Wren picture, the very first time I made one, looked like this:

Marsh Wren Original Illustration
Marsh Wren: Original Fabric Illustration

Every image looks unique

Thanks to the template, I'm able to create multiple fabric illustrations of the same design. However, I can confidently call every fabric illustration a unique original because no two are ever alike, thanks to the varied patterns of the fabrics.

With batik fabrics in particular, no two sections are ever the same. In addition, I sometimes choose different fabrics altogether. The result is every fabric illustration, even when using the same template, is totally different.

This is a photo of the second fabric illustration I made using the Marsh Wren template. Although the fabrics used for the wren's feathers and reeds were the same, the prints on the material were placed in totally different positions. I also no longer had the batik background material used in the original, so I chose something completely different.

Marsh Wren Fabric Reproduction 1
Marsh Wren: Original Fabric Reproduction version 1

This picture is pretty popular, so I recently made a few more. Years have passed, and I was using more new fabrics this time around.

Marsh Wren Fabric Reproductions
Marsh Wren: Original Fabric Reproduction versions 2-4

The two finished Marsh Wrens leaning against the wall will be available for sale. The unfinished picture laying in front of them is going to be an experiment in quilting, so I did not wrap it on foam core like the first two.

Please visit my Purchase page and contact me directly to request a quote on a commission, any of my artwork as a fabric illustration, or print reproductions.