Category Archives: In Process

Evolution Of An Art Quilt

As I’ve told you before, despite my efforts to plan work in advance, often I begin with fabrics and work out a design from them. Recently I finished a top I call “Dark and Deep,” that grew from vintage linen stenciled with trees. That gave me my theme, trees, but nothing else was set.

Let me introduce you to the starting lineup of fabrics I pulled for this project. The vintage linen is in the middle with the brown paint. I lined the open work section with a strip of painted cloth. To the right of that piece are two of my tree photos, edited and printed on cloth. I printed or painted the pinkish pieces, and used the curtain lace on the lower right as a stencil.

At the stage above I’ve created more blue fabrics to work with the tones of the darker photo, and cut curves into some of the fabric chunks. The little pink squares, printed with a linoleum block, did not make the final, nor did the fabric printed with feathers.

I’m trying more blue fabrics above, and the whole enterprise has become chunky.

The piece has lost a tier and is beginning to be more horizontal though it’s still block like.

It took a walk on the towpath to give me the unifying factor, the thin tree trunks.

I made them with mostly raw edge bias strips cut with slightly curved edges. Some are packaged strips, a quilt show give away, which I painted with white and brown paint. Others are cut from Mackenna Ryan fabric. I joined the blocks with as many curves as I could. I also talked myself into breaking up the photos with applied raw edge bias strips. That so needed to happen.

Lessons learned (or re-learned): no piece of fabric is too precious not to cut/modify/cover up, a big theme helps when working improvisationally, edge stability is important when using wobbly fabric (that linen), and layers of texture add depth.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under Art quilts, In Process

Oink!

Many possible art quilt subjects have occurred to me, but none ever involved pigs. That gap has been remedied by a prompt from my art quilt group. Since 2019 is the Year of the Pig (or Boar) by Chinese tradition, our challenge is to feature one in a piece.

According to this website:

“Pigs might not stand out in a crowd. But they are very realistic. Others may be all talk and no action. Pigs are the opposite.

Though not wasteful spenders, they will let themselves enjoy life. They love entertainment and will occasionally treat themselves. They are a bit materialistic, but this is motivation for them to work hard. Being able to hold solid objects in their hands gives them security.

They are energetic and are always enthusiastic, even for boring jobs. If given the chance, they will take positions of power and status. They believe that only those people have the right to speak, and that’s what they want.”

While I don’t find pigs attractive creatures, I love the notion of pigs with wings, as in the derisory phrase “when pigs fly.” Of course I did an internet image search on flying pigs (freely available for use) and rediscovered the flying pigs outdoor sculpture at Cincinnati’s Sawyer Point Park. The sculptures commemorate the city’s history as Porkopolis and as a port. The pigs perch atop riverboat smokestacks. My husband was born in Cincinnati, so the deal was sealed.

I chose a photo of one pig, enlarged it, and traced it onto Pellon 830, a nonwoven material.

Since a flying pig is fantasy, I elected to use acid trip colors as I filled in my outline. In an alternate universe skies may be magenta purple and pigs may be golden orange with purple wings.

I originally planned to do fused applique, but then I considered how tedious it would be to cut out little shapes and stick them where I wanted them on a piece this small, 8.5 by 11 inches. Instead, Inktense pencils and Fabrico markers were easier and more fun. I added the gold ball because I thought my pig looked like it was ready to play volleyball, with its front trotters in the air.

I have two weeks to do the quilting and finishing touches before the reveal.

Linking up to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under Art quilts, In Process

Deep(ly Flawed) Purple

In case you think quilt creation for me is all beer and skittles, I want to take you behind the curtain and share my latest humbling quilting experience. I haven’t done such a bad job in years. I’m embarrassed to reveal my ineptitude, but I want to make a clean breast of it. Maybe we can laugh about it, sometime.

In December I showed you “Deep Purple,” an improv created quilt top and asked your advice about how to finish it. The advice you sent was helpful, and I used it to complete the top.

Recently, I started to quilt this piece, and what began as an improv quilting design devolved into a royal mess. First, I decided to quilt edge to edge with purple thread, following some of the angled pieced lines. Then, when I saw all the intriguing shapes those lines created, I decided to quilt the shapes separately – in a different color thread.

The chartreuse thread I chose went well with the main non-purple color in my quilt, but I didn’t have as much of the thread as I thought. I placed an order for more, but it would take a week to arrive. So, I quilted only three rounds in each shape with chartreuse, and filled in the rest with my purple thread. Oh, I also decided to change the quilting direction to just parallel lines. The process of yanking the quilt through my sewing machine’s harp with each round was hard on my machine and my arms.

When I changed to parallel lines I decided to use my machine’s automatic tie-off feature so I wouldn’t have to hand knot and bury hundreds of thread ends. I’ve done this before and have gotten by with it. However, the purple thread I was using on the top and bottom stood out blindingly on the yellow-green backing fabric.

Because the shapes were so awkward, I had to start and stop my quilting lines however I could. I did switch to a lighter bobbin thread once I saw what was happening. The change helped a bit, but the thread barf balls still show up well. At this point I wasn’t open to ripping out and starting over.

Usually I steam press the daylights out of my tops to get them flat. However, “Deep Purple” has velveteen, which marks badly when steam pressed, so it was lightly pressed. Despite pinning, parts of the top were looser than others and the fabrics were different thicknesses, so the fabric scooched up along the bias lines I was quilting. The result was sheering and tiny pleats. I did redo some of the worst. Yes, I used a walking foot.

Right now this mess hangs over a banister, awaiting some sort of edge finish. Like me, it looks OK from a distance in dim lighting. Up close it’s another story.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

15 Comments

Filed under Completed Projects, In Process, Modern Quilting

I Crave Color

Winter finally got around to northeast Ohio and has been busy dumping lots of snow and wildly gyrating temperatures on us Buckeyes. One day it’s 40 degrees; the next it’s 10 degrees. My nonessential activities shrink in such weather, so I devote myself to adding color to bits of fabric.

So far I’ve used Marabu fashion spray paints and Jacquard textile paints, but hope to take on Dye-na-flow paints and a gelli plate as well. My base fabrics, none larger than a fat quarter, were previous failures and some vintage linens. With the exception of one stamp, I used stencils to create my designs this go-round. Most of my stencils are from Stencil Girl, which offers a large selection of all sorts and sizes. (No paid promotion, just my opinion.)

Large leaf stencil applied with Jacquard and spray paint on top of painted dye failure.

Marabu spray paint over thermofaxed linen

Marabu spray paint on stencil over dye print

Vintage linen stamped with sprayed on paint
Two colors of Jacquard paint through stencil over thermofaxed damask
Spray paint through lace curtain and stencil over commercial fabric

Spray paint and Jacquard paint through stencil over silk

As you can see, some of my experiments have splotches. Spray paint is hard to control and can drip. I’m not showing other attempts that either were good for nothing but the trash or need more layers. Now I need to figure out how to use my creations. Of course, I could always have them printed out and make yardage from them.

Linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

19 Comments

Filed under Fabric Printing, In Process

If The Shoe Fits

For a few months in 2018 I photographed shoes on people’s feet at rest and in motion. Why shoes? One of my volunteer jobs requires me to spend time in a theater lobby, and sometimes I have nothing immediate to do. I began to observe the groups in the lobby and became interested in what they did with their feet. I used my phone to take photos and a series was born.

Theater lobby

I also took photos of people waiting in lines at an art exhibit and generally hanging around. Since I had so many shoe photos I stopped, and concentrated on digitally reworking some of the photos, using what skills I remembered from my PhotoShop Elements class.

After a deep dive into PhotoShop’s effects and filters and a frustrating time sizing the edited photos for printing, I had a bunch printed off by Spoonflower in an eight by eight inch format. I used a bulk test print format Spoonflower offers. The results were a bit mixed. I should have standardized my photos more. But I had enough to combine into a quilt.

Pointilized sneakers before resizing

The next step was to devise a layout with the 8 inch squares. I sure wasn’t going to cut them up. After several days and reworkings I settled on one. Then, in a moment of genius or severe derangement, I decided to do the squares as three separate panels held together with laced up grommet tape.

Through Etsy I found Lace and Trims, which provided a reasonably priced product and speedy shipping. While I waited I quilted my panels in a simple diagonal pattern. Then, I sewed strips of the grommet tape to the panel sides and bottoms. It was tricky to avoid the grommets, yet sew on the tape. Looking back, I should have paid more attention to the width of the tape and the spacing of the grommets.

After the tape was on, I sewed a hanging sleeve across the tops of the panels (the only point at which the panels are sewn to each other) and turned under that edge. I will hand sew the sleeve’s bottom edge, along with bits I couldn’t machine sew because of the grommets. One broken sewing machine needle was enough.

Now I’m lacing up the grommet tape with various cordings and need to decide whether to try a single color or a mix. Right now I lean toward red cord for the contrast.

Black cord on left, silver in middle, red on right

I never realized there are so many ways to lace shoes. Check out some of the possibilities here.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

19 Comments

Filed under In Process, Techniques

Many Thanks

I was surprised and pleased to get so many responses to my plea for advice on “Deep Purple.” Your comments and opinions helped me clarify a way forward. I’m so appreciative of your input.

First, given the poor quality of my photos, you did heroic work figuring out what was going on. Second, I came away with new directions for the piece.

Here’s my post-post rearrangement. Note that I’ve spread around the dark purple to balance the composition. I cut off some of the dark purple bands and used the cut off material to swing the purple around the outside. You can see how it would look flipped in the next photo.

And here’s my rethinking of that. Melanie had suggested more diagonal lines in the interior. I spent some time playing with that idea, and decided on diagonal lines that connect the left and right sides across the purple. While I mocked up the arrangement with bias tape, I have thin chartreuse-y ribbon I could couch on after the piece is quilted. I’ve learned it’s a pain to quilt around such embellishments.

I still lean towards the first arrangement without the additional lines as I wonder if the additional design element is a bridge too far.

I suspect that now the backing material I cut is too small, so it’s back to the fabric closet for an alternative. I’m eager to get this one off the design wall so I can pin up the next victim, er, design.

10 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, In Process

Crunch Time

All my procrastinations are coming due and I am resembling the proverbial headless chicken. I have only myself to blame, of course, as these are self-imposed tasks.

First, a bit of background. I am not a holiday kind of person. While I’m not Scrooge, I do my best to ignore all the craziness of shopping and baking. Instead, I substitute my own kind of craziness which involves completion of various quilting/sewing related tasks.

Some tasks are done. “Flower Power” is quilted and bound.

Flower Power

Flower Power detail

I have sewn hanging sleeves onto seven small quilts so I can now display them. My art quilt group small glitzy scraps piece is done. Actually it’s overdone, which is why I’m calling it “Kitchen Sink Included.” I don’t embroider much, but when I do I leave no surface untouched.

Kitchen Sink Included

I’ve made progress with two reworked quilts, made a top for a baby quilt, and rethought “Deep Purple” a bit, thanks to your comments.

This baby quilt is made of scrap squares with yardage for the edges.

Still awaiting attention is another scrap piece I’m calling “Square Deal.” I want to make it more off-kilter.

I’m thinking of adding more escapees.

And, because I had a box of gauzy, glittery, silky scraps on my sewing table, I started playing around with another glitzy design. Unfortunately, I think it’s going nowhere, but it will be a distraction for a bit.

I’m plugging away at hand work on one of my revised old quilts as I wait for my fabric shipment so I can return to work on “Deep Purple.” I’m also pondering the best way to attach bits of silver lame to another revised quilt.

In a totally unrelated development, Rayna Gillman featured two of my quilts on her blog. She asked readers to send in examples of improv quilts, so I did.

Holiday best wishes to those of you who celebrate Christmas, and happy solstice to everyone.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

14 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects, In Process