It Seemed Like A Good Idea

A few months ago I wrote about Wen Redmond’s book “Digital Fiber Art” and my confusion about how to proceed with her techniques. So I was glad to see steps to follow in her article in the latest Quilting Arts about how to transfer a photo to cloth. Of course I had to try out the technique.

I made my base fabric collage with scraps that included an old tee shirt mop up rag that had turned lovely pastel shades.

Then, I covered a black and white inkjet copy of a photo from my Around Here series with mat gel medium per the directions and rubbed it onto the fabric base.

Once that dried I moistened it and rubbed away the paper to (hopefully) leave the transfer print behind. At this point my results diverged from the instructions. Either too little or too much of the paper came off, so some of the edges were jaggedy. Maybe I didn’t apply enough gel medium. More important, the photo looked really dark.

I thought I could brighten it up with big stitches.

After three colors of perle cotton I decided it was still too dark, so I moved on to machine stitching. Then I got the bright idea to highlight the light areas with metallic paint.

That turned out way too garish, so I tried sanding the painted areas to tone them down. I found that gel medium stands up well to sanding with fine sandpaper. Unfortunately, it didn’t remove as much of the paint as I had hoped.

Right now my experiment resides in the drawer of shame. Lessons learned:

-choose a photo with a lot more light areas and just a few dark lines

-do a practice photo transfer before the one that counts

-remember that subtlety isn’t my strong point, and there’s a fine, but definite, line between subtle and dreary.


Filed under In Process, Project Ideas, Techniques

10 responses to “It Seemed Like A Good Idea

  1. I especially appreciate posts about what does NOT work, since the info can save me from the same fate. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for sharing your steps/results. I like the jagged edge but I think you are correct in that more gel may have prevented that. When I do this type of transfer [now] I only use black and white images and still, I’m always afraid of removing too much or not enough of the paper. What did you think of the “hand” of the fabric after using the gel medium; specifically when hand stitching or quilting?

    • Thanks for the guidance on this type of transfer. I used Liquitex mat gel medium which stayed flexible and was easy to sew on. I did have to be careful with hand stitching as I got holes if I tried to fix a stitch.

  3. Judith Yemen

    That’s my pile in the corner — the Live and Learn corner.

  4. That is a helpful tip about choosing a light photo. I am constantly reminding myself to make practice pieces too. And I love your curving tracks of machine stitching.

  5. I love your imagination and persistence in finding ways to amend the piece. That in itself saves this from the drawer of shame. But there might be a different drawer for it… 🙂

    • Yes, I do seem to persist when any rational person would have wisely packed it in. It’s the same issue I’m having with some unquilted tops. I keep thinking I can make them better when it’s more likely they are live and learn pieces.

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