I have finally finished piecing the Gateway Arch quilt. Next I stitched the blocks into three panels.
Before I move on to making the quilt sandwich and quilting, I will be adding some details to the blocks using fabric paint and possibly some embroidery. This step will allow me to practice a new technique I learned over the holiday.
I last wrote about this project on November 16th – almost a month ago. In that post I made a list of next steps. While I have completed all but a few of those steps, I started to lose enthusiasm for the project while painting my fabric. It seems that all of my fabrics began to look alike. I told myself that the background fabrics SHOULD look alike, otherwise they wouldn’t retreat into the background. But I still wanted more texture and movement in the colors. So I decided to go back to Cindy Walter’s fabric painting class, to review my technique and discover what I’m missing.
That did the trick. I worked a few variations on color washing and finished painting the background fabric. I now have enough fabric to start building the quilt blocks.
Looking at all the difference in the fabrics, it’s clear to me that I need to organize them in a way that illustrates the scene I want to paint. The solution came to me while I was in the shower. (Why do I get my best ideas while washing my hair?) The Arch stretches itself across three different backdrops.
I have my design, my structure, my fabric and my pattern. Now I can begin to sew.
As much as I enjoyed our little trip to visit family, it’s nice to be back into my routine. Just as an aside, the faux suede baby booties, while slightly too big, were well accepted by little L. In the meantime, she had also acquired two other items of footwear – a pair of sneakers and a pair of snow boots. She did a brief baby runway show, modeling all of the above. It was so funny to watch her toddle around the house awkwardly, although looking quite pleased with herself and her ability to work the crowd.
Back at home, I have picked up where I left off on various fiber projects.
First of all, I’m knitting a birthday surprise for my daughter. (A big clue to the surprise is found in the sketch above.)
Secondly, I’ve resumed efforts toward making the Arches quilt. It’s amazing how just writing down the next steps motivated me to work. I have finished drawing the full-size patterns for each block. And by completing this step, I have been able to determine exactly how may squares of each color will be required. Over the past two days I have been painting the background fabric. I chose to paint the background squares on a gray fabric, in order to keep the background looking like the night sky.
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.
…..With apologies to readers who might be tiring of images of leaves.
I’m experiencing momentum on the oakleaf hydrangea project. While I intend to create 12 leaf blocks, I promise that I won’t blog about every single one of them. But I think today’s block is worth a few words and images. Here is the reference photo.
After making my sketch on the fabric, I masked the veins with resist and applied a pale emerald green wash. In this photo the piece has dried, and the leaf is covered in resist before undergoing the second wash.
I went really dark.
After the paint dried overnight, I pressed the background in an effort to set the color, then washed out the resist. Before I started painting in the details, I sampled several colors of paint over the pale emerald on waste fabric, because I had no idea what color would give the effect I wanted. I ended up applying yellow-orange, let it dry, and then painted in the major and minor veins.
This image has strayed pretty far from the reference photo! It is no longer a summer leaf, but a slightly battered early fall leaf, getting ready to change color before dropping to the ground. I love the chalkboard look of the background. Because it is black, I was able to use an Ultra fine point Sharpie to draw the leaf margin.
For this panel, I chose to machine stitch the background and hand stitch the leaf outline. This treatment seems to draw more focus to the leaf. Color washed with Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow, hand-painted with Jacquard Textile paint. Free motion quilting on a flannel backing.
Yesterday and today I resumed work on the oakleaf hydrangea fabric paintings. Above you see the reference photo for the first leaf I am painting. I chose to do two experiments. Here are the two paintings after the first round of painting. The color wash – resist steps were complete and the paintings left to dry. In these photos, the water resist medium has not been washed out yet.
And here are the two paintings, washed, dried and with final details added, using Jacquard Textile paint inTurquoise and Goldenrod, so palette was quite limited.
It was a learning experience, trying to paint on dry fabric with thicker paints. I discovered how to add depth to the background by dry brushing. And I learned that my skill in painting delicate lines needs work. After the pieces dried, I pressed them and continued on to the stitching phase. I chose to work with the purple piece first, hand quilting with embroidery floss. Instead of backing with regular batting, I used cotton flannel, since it would be easier to push the needle through.
I carefully stitched over the major leaf veins, and then made two borders around the leaf margin. After finishing the leaf, I just improvised the background, using two shades of purple and two stitches – feather and chain.
So far, undecided about how to stitch down the edges. The choices are blind stitch or use a decorative blanket stitch. Does anyone have a recommendation?
For the past three days I have been irresolute about making new fiber objects. I haven’t been idle – not a chance of that! But I felt more internal about my efforts than external, that is, not ready to show or talk about them.
Consolidate: (verb) 1. to join together into one whole. 2. to make firm or secure.
Gestate: (verb) to conceive and gradually develop in the mind.
Internalize: (verb) to incorporate within the self as conscious or subconscious guiding principles through learning.
If you ever start to feel you are stuck creatively, I suggest you reframe your status with the verbs above. It could be that you are not stuck at all but are internalizing.
A week ago, I agreed to offer fiber arts lessons again to the local homeschool association. To keep from being overwhelmed, I suggested that I teach project or workshop-type lessons. So part of my time has been spent on writing syllabi for these workshops. The first topic is crochet. I propose to teach crochet in the round.
I finished the syllabus for this workshop and made this sample.
It has been a while since I’ve created with yarn. It felt good to get back to it.
Secondly, I have been fooling around with pattern and paint on my color washed fabrics. Using foam, felt, cotton yarn and cardboard, I made these stamps.
I then proceeded to use them on this sample as well as a dark gray sample. My paint selection included Jacquard Textile paints, which are semi-transparent, Pebeo Setacolor opaque white, and some metallic acrylic paint I had laying around. Here are my doodles.
I’m loving the dark sample, especially the way the white opaque shapes and the glittery bronze shapes jump forward from the brooding background.
Okay, no Star Wars reference intended – I am talking about painting on a dark solid fabric. This is what I chose to do today. My goal is to make swatches that will represent the night sky in a future fiber object. Here are my chosen fabrics:
The gray solid will be used for most of the work. I chose the white marbled fabric because the black lines are vaguely cloud-like. Here we go:
With the gray fabric pieces cut roughly 13 by 21 inches, I painted one with blue and black and the other with violet, blue and black. I used foam brushes and loose, wavy strokes. Then I blended all the blotches together and lay the fabrics flat to dry. Here they are after drying.
The original gray is still visible, but it just shades the colors into a deeper range. I like the brooding, atmospheric effect. Next is the white marbled fabric.
I stuck with the blue paint, but darkened it by mixing in black for a monochromatic color scheme. At the last minute, I decided to scrunch the wet fabric.
And here is the swatch after it has dried.
This looks nothing like a night sky to me. It more resembles fast-moving water rippling over rocks. This piece could inspire a new fiber object for a later day.
It’s my desire to note each season as it arrives with a fiber project that celebrates the specialness of the season. When I learned of the passing of Gloria Vanderbilt, I decided to include a small tribute to her in today’s celebration of summer.
I remember Gloria Vanderbilt best from her television adverts, promoting her line of jeans. She promised to make jeans designed to fit women’s curves. That promise was fulfilled – those jeans did fit us! She branded her product by signing her name on the hip pocket. Soon, all the designers were catering to women’s shape and placing their logos on the pockets.
So, thank you, Gloria. You made us feel good about our bodies, at a time in our lives when we needed a boost to our self image.
Today’s fiber object shows a woman contemplating the sun while lying on a beach. In tribute to Ms. Vanderbilt, my lady is dressed in a pair of cut-off jeans. Here is the sketch I made with the design’s basic elements.
I toyed with the idea of inserting the Gloria Vanderbilt logo somewhere in the design, but ultimately decided not to. Here is the finished object.
I’m happy with all the elements of this piece. First of all, my ability to draw is getting better. It only took me two tries to sketch this slightly stylized female body. I am also getting better control of the fabric paint while using the wash technique. And finally, both my hand and machine embroidery are improved.