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.
Yesterday was spent finishing up the Just Trees miniquilt. This project was inspired from the way treetops look in the winter. As spring started to move it, I had to add some color in the form of blooming redbud trees. New skills practiced: paper piecing, hand applique of clam shell shapes, using textile paint mixed with floating medium on fabric. This last technique allows a more precise line by slowing the flow of the paint into the fibers. The floating medium is made by Folk Art. Here is my miniquilt all pieced together and painted, but not yet quilted:
I decided to improve my focal point by embroidering details into the lowest redbud tree.
And here is the piece fully quilted, with a border of commercially printed fabric. I used my walking foot to stitch around the applique. I free motion quilted the sky and around the border.
I’m happy with the results of this fiber object. It reminds me of the view across the floodplain in my little Oklahoma town.
A culmination of six months spent thinking about and working on it, here is the Gateway Arch quilt. I finishing sewing on the binding while watching the Super Bowl (Yay KC Chiefs!) I feel an odd combination of elation, satisfaction and relief. The finished object is largely what I had envisioned.
The colors are wonderful. The curving shapes are a good representation of the real arch. I’m happy with the embroidery.
The construction flaws bother me a little more that I had expected them to, especially the waviness of the right border. How did that happen?
The arch shapes were made from hand-painted fabric cut apart into shapes that mirrored the arch’s steel panels and then fused to a solid background. This piece was then cut into the sixteen square background block on the left edge and appliqued on the right edge before being top-stitched in matching thread. Shading was painted on with acrylic paints after the block was finished.
I had a lot of fun with free motion quilting. I chose patterns to emulate aspects of the landscape or city-scape. I did a lot of experimenting with thread colors, either matching or contrasting with the background colors as the spirit moved me. Eventually I hand painted some thread to get the colors I needed. The idea for the fireworks came from my memory of a July 4th trip when my family stopped in St. Louis for dinner.
This project was a real stretch from the perspective of skills required. Thanks go to Bluprint.com for all the quilting tutorials I accessed. I learned a lot about painting on fabric, matching points, sewing curved shapes and putting the whole thing together. I also learned about the limitations of my current tools and studio space.
What’s next? I have a few ideas. But first I’ll be taking a short break from quilting to focus on painting, knitting and teaching.
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.
So far I have found myself frequently frustrated while shopping in my local craft store for decorative topstitch thread. My local craft store, which is a Hobby Lobby ( I have a love-hate relationship with H-L,) has a limited selection of quilting threads, none of which are what I am wanting for my current project. And the threads that are available are not particularly affordable.
I have nothing to lose in experimenting with painting my own thread. (Not be confused with thread painting, a hand embroidery craft in which stitches are worked densely to create a painterly landscape of thread on fabric.) I have everything I need.
1. A 50 gram spool of 100% cotton DMC thread no. 10 in an off-white color. 2 Assorted jars of Jacquard Dye-Na-Flo fabric paint. 3. water proof freezer paper. 4. latex gloves.
After coiling several yards of thread and tying them together with string, I let the thread soak in the paint for about ten minutes. Wearing latex gloves I lifted the coil from the paint, squeezed out the excess and laid the threads on paper. Drying took several hours. The next day I pressed the dried thread with a hot iron, under a pressing cloth, for about 30 seconds. This was my attempt to fix the color. Because Jacquard Dye-Na-Flo is an acrylic paint, it is essentially color-fast from the moment it dries. But if you want to use the paint on an item that will be washed, I would recommend letting it cure for at least a week before washing.
Here are my hand-painted threads wound on spools.
I love that the paint gave the thread a variegated effect. I’m not sure if this happened because I mixed paint colors together or because I had a cord tied around the coil. It certainly makes for a splashy look.
So far I haven’t noticed any color bleed on my sample fabric. Tomorrow I will start using it on my quilt. I’m excited to see how that goes.
I hadn’t planning on ditch-stitching the Arches quilt. But I have been a bit stuck – uncertain about how to proceed and wary of my skills (or lack thereof) to quilt free motion. Hence, I partook of another tutorial. This one, taught by Susan Cleveland on blueprint.com, promised to teach me some alternatives to free motion quilting.
But first, here are a few views of the panel that I have already quilted.
This block pleases me. I was able to free motion quilt around the color waves in the background which imitate the sky and river. Using the walking foot I quilted the arch itself around the perimeter and also along the color breaks. I then stitched two lines up the side, which give a sense of the way the stainless steel panels are attached.
I quilted around the arch in the top two blocks the same way. In the background to the right of the arch, I chose to echo the arch shape. On the left side I stitched free motion in big swirls. These did not turn out well. I guess I will rip it out, but that kinda scares me.
Susan recommended that I stitch in the ditch between the squares. This is said to stabilize the piece. I am having a problem with fabric stretching out of shape. The ditch stitching and the basting of the panel edges should solve this issue. Once this step is done, decorative stitching can be applied. Some techniques I plan to try include top-stitching with big thread and hand embroidering areas of the quilt.
Now I need to decide which thread to use for the top-stitching and which designs to embroider. (sigh.) The completion date for this project is rather uncertain.
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.
Yesterday my Bernina and I spent some quality time together. I used my Autumnal Equinox square to practice free-motion quilting techniques.
One of the things that gave me more confidence is the discovery of the 1/2 speed button on the Bernina. So far, I have mastered wiggles, loops, lazy eights, dot-to-dot and circles. I still can’t do meander.
I had fun drawing with thread on my reverse applique picture. Oh, also a few birds and a squirrel were added by hand embroidery.
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.