Cloth and the Picture Book:
Storytelling with Textile Techniques

Author and illus­tra­tor Debra Frasi­er was invit­ed to lec­ture on this top­ic to the West­ern North Car­oli­na Tex­tile Study Group, and the pub­lic, in mid-Novem­ber 2017. This is the bib­li­og­ra­phy that accom­pa­nies Debra’s pre­sen­ta­tion, with book selec­tions by Debra Frasi­er and Vic­ki Palmquist.

If you would like to invite Debra to give this pre­sen­ta­tion to your group, please con­tact her.

Down­load a print ver­sion of this bibliography.

Books are list­ed in order of appear­ance in the presentation.


Spike: Ugliest Dog in the Universe  

Spike, Ugli­est Dog in the Universe
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed 
by Debra Frasier
Beach Lane Books, Simon & Schus­ter,

Col­laged worn blue jeans with oth­er tex­tiles and papers.


Stitching Stars  

The Lady and the Uni­corn, as seen in the Musée de Cluny, Paris, France.

The Bayeux Tapes­try, writ­ten by David M. Wil­son, “The Complete 
Tapes­try in Colour with Intro­duc­tions, Descrip­tion and com­men­tary by David M. Wil­son,” Thames & Hud­son, 2004.

Stitch­ing Stars, The Sto­ry Quilts of Har­ri­et Pow­ers, Lyons, Mary E, African-Amer­i­can Artists and Arti­sans series, 1993, Charles Scribner’s & Sons, his­tor­i­cal overview of late 1860’s, slave life, and Ms. Pow­ers’ works and history.



Alphabet Atlas


The Alpha­bet Atlas
writ­ten by Arthur Yorinks
illus­trat­ed by Adri­enne Yorinks
Winslow Press, 1999

Machine quilt­ed, col­laged continents


writ­ten by Adri­enne Yorinks and Jean­nette Larson

illus­trat­ed by Adri­enne Yorinks
Charles­bridge Pub­lish­ing, 2011

Non­fic­tion com­bined with myth­ic, all quilted

Patchwork Folk Art  

Patch­work Folk Art, Using Appliqué & Quilt­ing Techniques
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Janet Bolton
Sterling/Museum Quilts Book
Ster­ling Pub­lish­ing Co, 1995

Not a children’s pic­ture book but an excel­lent intro­duc­tion to nar­ra­tive in patch­work collage.

Mrs. Noah's Patchwork Quilt  

Mrs. Noah’s Patch­work Quilt
A Jour­nal of the Voy­age with a Pock­et­ful of Patch­work Pieces
writ­ten by Sheri Safran
illus­trat­ed by Janet Bolton
Tan­go Books (Eng­land), 1995

Presents a how-to along with the sto­ry of Mrs. Noah’s quilt, and a back pock­et includes pat­terns of quilt pieces appear­ing in the illustrations.

Tar Beach  

Tar Beach
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Faith Ringgold
Crown Pub­lish­er, 1991

Based on one of Ringgold’s quilts held by the Guggen­heim Muse­um. The sto­ry arc and quilt bor­ders all car­ried over to the pic­ture book so, in this case, the book is inspired by the quilt.

Quiltmaker's Gift  

Quiltmaker’s Gift
writ­ten by Jeff Brumbeau
illus­trat­ed by Gail de Marcken
Scholas­tic Press, 2001

In which the cre­ation of a quilt changes the heart of a greedy king. Each page fea­tures a dif­fer­ent quilt block that fits into the con­text of the story.

The Keeping Quilt  

Keep­ing Quilt
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Patri­cia Polacco
Simon & Schus­ter, 1988

A quilt made from a family’s cloth­ing is passed down in var­i­ous guis­es for more than a cen­tu­ry, a sym­bol of their endur­ing love and faith.


Pat the Bunny  

Pat the Bunny
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Dorothy Kunhardt
Gold­en Book, 1940

Spi­ral bound with a small trim-size, this clas­sic book uses actu­al bits of fab­ric to “feel” and “lift.”

Wag a Tail  

Wag A Tail
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Lois Ehlert
Har­court, Inc, 2007

Col­laged papers and cloth, with but­tons and “pink­ing shear” edg­ing throughout.

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf  

Red Leaf, Yel­low Leaf
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Lois Ehlert
Har­court Brace & Com­pa­ny, 1991

Burlap, kite tails, string and bits of cloth are used in the collages.

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat  

Joseph Had a Lit­tle Overcoat
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Simms Taback
Viking/Penguin Put­nam Books for Young Read­ers, 1999

The main char­ac­ter — a dimin­ish­ing coat — is actu­al cloth and is col­laged with oth­er bits of cloth cur­tains, rugs and cloth­ing, and then all adhered to a paint­ed surface.

Mama Miti  

Mama Miti
writ­ten by Don­na Jo Napoli
illus­trat­ed by Kadir Nelson
Simon & Schus­ter Books for Young Read­ers, 2010

Nel­son has com­bined cloth with paint­ing for both land­scapes and clothing.


writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Lois Ehlert
Har­court Brace & Co, 1997

Ehlert has used actu­al objects: work gloves, apron swatch, sewing tools, scis­sors, pat­tern tis­sue — in this ode to mak­ing things as a child.


Paper Illusions  

Paper Illu­sions, The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave
by Bar­bara and Rene Stoeltie
Abrams, 2008 (Eng­lish edition) 

Lav­ish pho­tographs of life-sized paper cos­tumes made to match Renais­sance peri­od cloth using paint­ing, fold­ing, glu­ing, stitch­ing to cre­ate the illu­sion of cloth.

Mole's Hill  

Mole’s Hill: a Wood­land Tale
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Lois Ehlert
Har­court, 1994

Inspired by Wood­land Indi­ans rib­bon appliqué and sewn bead­work, the paper is often dot­ted and pieced as if stitched and bead­ed. An author note describes this hand­work and how it inspired her approach.

Seeds of Change  

Seeds of Change
writ­ten by Jen Culler­ton Johnson
illus­trat­ed by Sonia Lynn Sadler
Lee & Low Books, 2010

Dis­tinc­tive Kenyan-styled flower print dress pat­terns are used as the inspi­ra­tion for paint­ings of dress­es and mir­rored in landscapes.


Fabric Pictures  

Fab­ric Pictures
A Work­shop with Janet Bolton, Cre­at­ing a Tex­tile Story
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Janet Bolton
Jacqui Small LLP, Aurum Press, 2015

Not a children’s pic­ture book but an excel­lent work­shop-in-a-book on cre­at­ing nar­ra­tives with appliqué.

Baby's First Book  

Baby’s First Book
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Clare Beaton
Bare­foot Books, 2008

Hand sewn felt, vin­tage fab­rics, but­tons, and stitched let­ter­ing col­laged for a baby’s com­pendi­um of sub­jects. ALL items and back­grounds made of cloth.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves  

Snow White and the Sev­en Dwarves
adapt­ed by Joan Aiken
illus­trat­ed by Belin­da Downes
A Dor­ling Kinder­s­ley Book
Pen­guin Com­pa­ny, 2002

Downes uses fine fab­rics appliquéd with rich embroi­dery, incor­po­rat­ing a con­sis­tent run­ning stitch to out­line and embellish.


Cloth Lullaby  

Cloth Lul­la­by, The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois
writ­ten by Amy Novesky
illus­trat­ed by Isabelle Arsenault
Abrams Books for Young Read­ers, 2016

The illus­tra­tor uses woven lines, [sim­i­lar to some of Bour­geois’ lat­er draw­ings] to cre­ate a tex­tile sen­si­bil­i­ty in the illus­tra­tions amid the ear­ly years, and then the same vocab­u­lary is used to visu­al­ly describe the sculp­ture of her adult artist years.

Pattern for Pepper  

A Pat­tern for Pepper
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Julie Kraulis
Tun­dra Books, Ran­dom House/Canada, 2017

From Her­ring­bone to Dot­ted Swiss, from Argyle to Toile — a vis­it to a tailor’s shop becomes a com­pendi­um of fab­ric pat­terns with each fab­ric sam­pled in the hunt for the per­fect pat­tern for Pep­per. Oil paint and graphite on board.


Pocketful of Posies  

Pock­et­ful of Posies, A Trea­sury of Nurs­ery Rhymes
col­lect­ed and illus­trat­ed by Sal­ley Mavor
Houghton Mif­flin Har­court, 2010

64 tra­di­tion­al nurs­ery rhymes are illus­trat­ed with hand-sewn fab­ric relief col­lages, includ­ing dozens of figures.

Felt Wee Folk  

Felt-Wee-Folk, 120 Enchant­i­ng Dolls
“New Adven­tures”
by Sal­ley Mavor
C&T Pub­lish­ing, 2015

This is a how-to book for cre­at­ing char­ac­ters and scenes as pic­tured in Pock­et­ful of Posies.

Pride & Prejudice  

Cozy Clas­sics
Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice
by Jack and Hol­man Wang
Chron­i­cle Books, 2016

Entire­ly illus­trat­ed by felt­ed 3‑D char­ac­ters that are set in an envi­ron­ment, superbly lit, and pho­tographed to tell clas­sic tales in one word page turns. Sev­er­al clas­sic titles are includ­ed in this series.

Roarr Calder's Circus  

Roarr, Calder’s Circus
a sto­ry by Maira Kalman
pho­tos by Donatel­la Brun
designed by M&Co for 
the Whit­ney Muse­um of Amer­i­can Art, 1991

Using bits of Calder’s spo­ken text from the film of his hand manip­u­lat­ed cir­cus, Kalman expands the lan­guage and char­ac­ter­i­za­tions. Calder’s cir­cus char­ac­ters of wire and cloth are pho­tographed and then col­laged across the dou­ble-page spread.


We Got Here Together  

We Got Here Together
writ­ten by Kim Stafford
illus­trat­ed by Debra Frasier
Har­court Brace, 1994

Shi­bori, a resist dye­ing method, is used to pat­tern Japan­ese gampi tis­sue paper (long fibered tis­sue) as ocean and rain, in both pipe resist and braid­ed resist tech­niques, respec­tive­ly. Shi­bori tis­sue paper is com­bined with Japan­ese dyed sheets in col­lages on illus­tra­tion board.


Catharine Ellis  

Catharine Ellis, self pub­lished, three titles:

Cape Cod: The Present, Blue, and Map­ping Col­or (writ­ten by Nan­cy Pen­rose, illus­trat­ed by Catharine Ellis). Find Catharine’s resources and pub­li­ca­tions here.

(Each of these chap­books is illus­trat­ed using pho­tographs of nat­ur­al dyed fab­rics, some­times addi­tion­al­ly stitched on the sur­faces, while abstract­ly defin­ing the text.)

What are your favorite books illus­trat­ed with tex­tiles? Send us your rec­om­men­da­tions.

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Jon Roux
Jon Roux
6 years ago

What a great list­ing! Work­ing with fab­rics is such an art! I also enjoy Anna Gross­nick­le Hines’s book “Pieces: A Year in Poems and Quilts” (2003). Anoth­er book that involves tex­ture is Suzanne Del Riz­zo’s “My Beau­ti­ful Birds” (2017). If I’m remem­ber­ing cor­rect­ly, poly­mer clay is used to achieve the tex­ture , but many pages offer the feel­ing of cloth and embroidery.