The last time I posted about my sunflower project, I had just finished fusing all the fabric pieces to the background and was beginning to embroider details on the flowers. There are only a few more steps to share.
Here is a close up of the embroidery detail, which also shows the machine stitching around each applique piece.
Both of these steps took a good amount of time. I sewed around each piece using my walking foot. It is a great foot for precise work, but it only sews in a straight line. To sew down each petal and each notch in each leaf required lots of adjustments along the way.
Once the outline stitches were finished, I switched to my free motion foot to quilt the background. Now take a look at the Van Gogh painting at the top of this page. You can see, how the artist painted echo lines around the details. The pale dashes around the man’s jacket repeat the line of the jacket, and the edges of the sleeves are echoed all the way up the arm. I wanted to create the same kind of texture in my piece. So I started by sewing echo lines around the flowers and the leaves.
When I reached the sky, I sewed wavy lines around several of the paint dashes and dabs. After finishing the quilting, I bound the quilt on all sides with blue fabric.
For my final step, I mixed some paint. I painted echo lines, focusing on the upper half of the piece, and giving much attention to the flowers. Then I called it done.
I feel really happy. While this project took me many hours to complete, I find it very expressive. The quilting and the background paint lines represent the motion of the sunflowers as they sway in the wind. I like to think the echo lines represent the energy that exists in all living things.
Thank you, Mr. Van Gogh, for everything you taught me.
Yesterday was cool, but sunny. We went walking on our favorite trail, the Pathfinder. On sections of the path which are not shaded by trees, there were wide swaths of blooming flowers, predominantly white clover. Clover is not a native plant here, but still highly valued by the local denizens of the air – bees, butterflies and dragonflies. Bill got some great photos of these fliers with his high-tech telephoto lens. I confined my efforts at photography to things that hold still – especially the flowers. I also snapped photos of the pond, focusing on the willow branches which overhang the water. My goal is to incorporate additional elements into my turtle fiber object.
Upon returning home, I set to work. I have been fussing for the past three days over how to add pond insects to the turtle FO. I first tried making appliques on a scrap of fabric with the intention of fusing them to the background. That technique didn’t seem to work well. It didn’t give me the transparency I wanted for the wings and it didn’t give a life-like look.
But then I stumbled upon Lola Jenkins, a self-taught fiber artist who specializes in thread painting.
This bold, fearless quilter takes a black sharpie marker to her quilt, creating permanent stitch lines. She then stitches over these lines with black thread. In her Craftsy class, she likes to say, “If you are like me, go for it!”
So I did. Not with a marker, but a pencil. I drew the insects, then free motion quilted all of the pencil lines. Here are the inspiration photos (taken by Bill) and the resulting free motion quilted images.
Now my lovely turtle has a few companions. I’m happy with today’s additions and feel more confident about starting the next step – background quilting.
It took only a few days to determine and apply the surface decoration on this piece. And I have stretched the truth a little in calling this one finished. I have sewn on a wide border that still needs machine quilting, and the whole thing needs to be mounted to an artist’s canvas. Since I can’t purchase that item until pandemic restrictions are lifted, I am content to call this object finished.
This is a detail I altered from the original image. In my photograph there was a road in the foreground. I changed it to a stream and depicted it with sunlight glinting off its waters. I achieved this with metallic yarn sewn on with couching.
Here is my trick to get my running stitch straight. By using painter’s tape to mark my fabric, I could hand stitch while watching TV. Also I don’t have to remove marks.
Close up of lower right section showing sun. Clouds and stream are reflecting the sunset. The triangles were stamped onto the fabric using metallic paint.
I feel pretty good about this fiber object. It communicates well the idea of sunset and its color range. I like the balance between the elements and the level of detail. And it allowed me to practice my piecing and embroidery skills.
Yes, friends, today marks one year since I started experimenting in the fiber arts and posting the results of my efforts. This mini quilt is my most recent object. It’s quite a fitting testimony to my adventures, because it showcases so many of the techniques that I have learned along the way. I have used fabric paint to tint the daisies, then mixed some of my hand painted fabrics with a few solids and prints to fashion the blocks. The whole thing was ditch stitched. I then hand quilted on top of the blocks with embroidery floss. Lastly, I painted enough fabric to border the whole piece. The completed work is sewn over a 16 inch square of artist canvas.
Let’s take a brief look back on how I got here.
My enthusiasm for hand painting fabric actually started when I took a class on how to do this and then taught a class last spring. It was a big hit with all ages. I continue to experiment and now use this craft as a vital source of uniquely colored fabric.
As a girl, I embroidered my share of humdrum tea towels and pillowcase hems. But today – embroidery artists have moved this craft to new heights. I could never be that good. Or could I? I began to practice some basic stitches and decided that embroidery has a place in my work. For this project, I appliqued, embroidered and wrote with fabric markers to make five prayer flags. Here you see the Earth flag.
Quilting. Whoa. My mother is the most expert quilter that I know. She generously gave me her Bernina sewing machine. It seemed inevitable that I dip my toe into the venerable art of machine quilting. Any fiber artist worthy of the title needs to have some skill in putting together a quilt. And while I never expect to cover any beds with my quilts, I do see it as a robust art well suited for expressing my ideas.
So by mid July, I was experimenting with improvisational mini quilts. These small gems are fun to do and can be completed in a day. In this one, I have combined applique, machine quilting and embroidery. If the machine stitching looks a little bunched up, it’s because I had not found my machine’s walking foot yet. It’s now in active use.
That about sums up my thoughts on a year of fiber objects. When I began this blog, I expected to use the site simply as a personal diary. My goal was to record my work and my thoughts about the work. But then nearly 100 readers found my site. I have such gratitude to those who choose to read and to comment on my humble posts. Your interaction with me has enriched me and my craft in many ways. I thank you for your time and caring attention.
Last week I wrote about painting heavy weight DMC thread with fabric paint. Just now, I finished embroidering my quilt with the thread. Before I do a “reveal” of the finished quilt (it isn’t quite sewn together yet) I want to show how I used the thread.
Essentially, I created little scenes that tell a story of looking up at the Gateway Arch.
I had no real difficulty embroidering with the threads. They do not appear to be bleeding color at all. I wish I could say the same for the quilt fabric, some of the paint rubbed off on my quilting gloves.
The important thing right now is that the End Is In Sight! A little assembly and sewing on the binding and it will be done.
During a shopping excursion to Tulsa, we stopped by the 108 Contemporary Gallery to catch a new show – State of Craft. Works in various media, including fiber, were on display. I thought it would be good to check it out.
There were some large works such as this one by Whitney Fortsyth.
Interesting wood items like this one by Rusty Johnson.
And then there were fiber objects, mostly smaller but exquisite.
A large work with a fish-eye mirror in the center. White linen with beads.
I particularly like these bags by Rhonda Steiner, hand dyed, painted, and screen printed.
And finally, there were some yarn objects, felted, crocheted and knitted.
Before I say farewell to my study of the oakleaf hydrangea plant, I want to share the little study I made of the blooms. Above is a reference photo for the plant. The “flowers” open pure white, changing over times into shades of rose, rust and green. I say flowers in quotes, because the part of plant that most people identify as a flower – it has petals, after all – is really a bract, or sterile flower. The real flowers are in the tight little buds that you see at the top of the panicle. Here is a specimen, much dried up, that I took from my hydrangea.
Interestingly, there are some bracts with four petals and some with five. I did a drawing in colored pencil before I started making the fiber object, which depicts the rusty pink color of late summer.
My first thought was to make corner blocks for my quilt with images of the flower panicles. But after I had assembled the quilt and laid out the border, I decided corner blocks would not improve the quilt at all and might even detract from the focus. By then I had already started a sample block.
It is a sweet little object, just 4 by 4 inches. Made with hand painted cotton, block printed and embroidered. Perhaps I can use it in another project.
As I knotted off the last thread of the binding’s slip stitch, I drew my quilt around me and snuggled down into its folds. It is wrong to be in love with one’s own work?
This little lap quilt turned out very much the way I had hoped it would. The dark sashing focuses one’ eye on the beautiful leaves, as if each was a boxed jewel. I loved quilting in free-motion over under and around the leaf shapes.
The batik fabric of the border matches many colors in the blocks. And the botanical pattern on it suggests the sort of wooded area where one might find an oakleaf hydrangea shrub in the wild.
“Oakleaf Hydrangea Study” Hand painted cotton, cotton flannel, and commercial printed fabric; hand embroidered and machine quilted free motion style.
Today I am writing my 100th post on Daily Fiber blog. I am pleased that this milestone arrives at the same time as another mini-achievement: the completion of my oakleaf hydrangea block series. After some consideration I determined that the final block count will be nine, as you see pinned to my wall boards in the photo above.
Decisions still need to be made on how to finish. After consulting with a few friends, I have settled on the arrangement of blocks and the decision to use a dark border around each block as if it were an individual painting. Also, I will add a border around the whole quilt – width and color yet to be determined.
Here are some close-ups of the groups;
As you can see, only the first block is quilted so far. I will finish the quilting after assembling each row.
Hand-painted cotton fabric , hand embroidered with a flannel background. Each block is 10 by 12, including flannel border.