Category Archives: Techniques

Facing All Decked Out

After I finished quilting “All Decked Out” I decided to try another way to sew on an edge facing. Most methods leave you with lumpy corners. However, Jean Wells gives a way to face your quilt in her book, “Journey to Inspired Art Quilting,” that keeps extra fabric out of the corners.

You sew together the ends of 2 to 3 inch strips to form a frame that you sew onto the edges of your quilt. The tricky part is getting the frame to match the dimensions exactly.

After you sew around the edges you turn back 1/4 inch on the loose part of the frame. To make this easier, you leave 1/4 inch unsewn on the strip joining seams. You then turn the facing, press the edge a lot, and hand sew the facing down.

As the picture above shows, I did a lot of quilting, which doesn’t show that much on the front.

For those of you who don’t remember this quilt, it’s one of two I created from squares of surface design experiments. The center is an embroidered paint stick rubbing of a glass salad plate. The salmon colored squares are sun prints from crocheted doilies. The blue with white swoops and dots I made in by screen printing with thickened dye. The multi-color sort of pink-purple squares are fabric created from scraps, cheesecloth, and stencil prints. The solid pinkish squares are hand dyed fabrics. The border is made from a Spoonflower printed photo of my deck, run through a filter and done as a mirror image. I did throw in some Marcia Derse fabric in four squares.

I quilted it with variegated 40 weight cotton thread, sort of following the curves of the swoops.

This post is linked to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects, Techniques

Fun With the Sun

Cyanotypes, which are actually photographs, are yet another way to create designs on fabric. A cyanotype “is a photographic printing process that produces a cyan-blue print. Engineers used the process well into the 20th century as a simple and low-cost process to produce copies of drawings, referred to as blueprints. The process uses two chemicals: ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide.”

You can coat fabric with those chemicals yourself or you can buy fabric already coated. After that, the process is the same. You choose materials you want to photograph and lay them on the treated fabric.

Then, you cover them with glass or some other clear object to hold the materials in place and expose the fabric to the sun for 10 to 15 minutes.

After you bring the fabric inside you remove the materials and rinse the fabric in water. Then you admire your results.

I had bought a packet of assorted color pretreated cyanotype fabric squares with a gift certificate from Dharma Trading, and was waiting for sunshine and warm weather. When those events aligned I set up my work area on the roof of my screen porch.  Why the roof? Because I can access it through a door from my bedroom. I suppose the people we bought our house from had visions of night star gazing, but it’s three stories up from the driveway and the railing isn’t very high. Also, wasps love to build nests on the railing. So I was happy to find a use for that roof.

I was pleased with my results, and have found many breathtaking examples of this technique online. How about this delicate piece by Linda Sterner?

I have no idea what I’ll make with my crocheted pieces, but I still have eight more treated fabric squares to play with.

 

 

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Filed under Fabric Printing, Techniques

A Landscape Experiment

Back in 2016 I used a phone to take this photo of a downtown Akron intersection, drew up a sketch from it, and then did nothing with it.

I resurrected the sketch when I saw an announcement for a juried local art show called Against The Sky. While I haven’t had luck getting into all media shows, I thought I’d make up my work and then decide whether to enter it.

Luckily I had bought the perfect piece of hand painted fabric for a sunset, which I combined with simplified outlines of the buildings in the photo. I adapted the technique Heather Dubreuil uses for her cityscapes. She outlines buildings and architectural details with black thread by drawing her design on a Sulky heat-away product. She uses the drawing to place fabrics underneath, fuses the fabrics, and then stitches the lines on the iron-away product over everything. She tears away the product after stitching.

Instead, I drew a line design, made freezer paper templates from the design to cut out fused fabric, fused the fabric on my background sky and pavement, and then traced the line design on the Sulky product (I had purchased a package at a quilt show) and stitched over it. Because my fabrics were dark, I used a dark gray thread.

Sketch as line drawing.

Freezer paper templates before cutting out.

Thread color trials. I went with the dark gray that’s on the bottom.

Start of stitching over Sulky product.

Despite the product instructions NOT to use a permanent marker, that’s what I ended up using as wash away markers wouldn’t leave a mark. I was able to tear away most of the plastic so there was little to remove with heat.

I may glue the quilted top to a pre-stretched canvas with black painted edges. Maybe that will make it more appealing to a juror.

Final (before edge finishing) on stretched canvas.

 

 

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Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Techniques

It’s All About The Surface

Over the years I’ve accumulated a pile of fabrics I’ve created with paints, stencils, dyes, and other surface design techniques. Since I didn’t feel up to deep thought projects but wanted to make something after my surgery, I sorted that pile and cut up much of it into 5 inch squares. Then, I arranged the squares that seemed to go together into more or less traditional designs.

The resulting tops are totally about texture and color. I meant no discernible message. Each is about 41 inches square and has a border (gasp.)

“All Decked Out” is a trip around the world design made with fabric I designed or dyed, with one exception. The center is a paintstik rubbing of a glass salad plate, accented with embroidery. The surrounding squares are either Marcia Derse fabric (the darker fabric) or sun printed with a crocheted doily. The blue and white squares are from a silk screening class, while the multicolored squares suffered through four processes – dyeing, fabric collage, cheesecloth overlay, and stenciling. The dark and light rose squares are hand dyed, while the blue and white border fabric is from a photo of my deck I manipulated and printed through Spoonflower.

“Sur La Table” is made mostly from tablecloths I painted and dyed.  (Finally a use for high school French.) The yellow is damask that’s been printed with leaves, while the orange is a drop cloth I enhanced. The green strips are from a gradation and the outer border is linen I dyed. The diagonal strips are bias tape I made and some cording. The squares on the end of the green units are made from fabric I painted and stenciled. The thin green strip inside the border is Grunge fabric, the only fabric I didn’t mess around with.

I thought I’d do quick and dirty quilting on these, but already that isn’t going to plan. A group I belong to had lots of complicated ideas for quilting “All Decked Out.” Of course the ideas are much better than what I had envisioned, but also more work.

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Filed under dyeing, Fabric Printing, In Process, Techniques

As I Was Saying…

I made an impulse buy of Marabu wax pastel crayons at my local arts and crafts store. These lipstick-like markers can be diluted with water or applied thickly for intense color. They are designed primarily for mixed media uses, not for fabric. But…I decided to try them out.

I gathered a variety of fabric scraps for my trials. Most were all cotton. Two were primarily synthetic. I drew letters, scribbled, diluted my lines with water, applied the crayons over dry and wet fabrics, and made rubbings from textured plates. Here’s the results of my first trials before immersing some of them in water.

After 24 hours I soaked my scraps in lukewarm water to test for color fastness and found lots of color loss. Definitely not a product to use on any fabric that will be washed or exposed to water.

However, I liked the feel of using the crayons enough to do further experimentation. I watched a few videos about this product and decided to try smearing, stenciling, and rubbing.

Green silk organza stenciled with Marabu crayon. The crayon is good for stenciling because it doesn’t run (unless you add water.)

Rubbings applied on Pellon 830 with dry crayon, then sprayed with water. I started to outline the shapes in the smaller rubbing with ink. With this technique you’d need to be sparing with the water used, otherwise your design will wash out.

Thick application of crayon on Pellon 830, sprayed with water, then hand rubbed with plate under fabric. I like this effect, though you don’t get much smearing of the crayon on fabric. The videos show lots of smearing on paper.

Heavy scribbles on cotton fabric with water applied lightly by brush. This shows the transparent effects possible with the crayon.

Conclusions:

It’s an interesting product for adding lots of intense color to areas, not so good for fine detail drawing. It is literally like drawing with a lipstick.

It is blendable with water, and works well when applied to damp surfaces.

The lack of color fastness is a major drawback for use in working quilts, not so much for display pieces. The manufacturer says it sets up after 24 hours and can’t be reactivated, but I don’t think they plan for full immersion.

It’s probably not the most cost effective product of this type on the market, especially because it spreads so easily you’d (at least I’d) be tempted to use lots at a time. I believe it’s comparable to Gelato crayon markers.

Will I buy more? Probably not, unless the price is deeply discounted.  The price I paid was about $2.50 a marker.

If you’ve tried this product I’d love to hear about your experiences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Techniques

Photoshop Fripperies

Now that I’ve completed part 2 of the Pixeladies’ photoshop classes I’m officially a menace to all pictures I’ve taken. It’s so easy to change up a photo’s looks with filters and assorted other bells and whistles. No more worries about composition as I can fix it. I don’t think that’s a good thing, as I can become lazy and lose the knack of composition. However, when you’re on a tour bus and you have only a few seconds to take a picture, it’s a great fall back.

Here are examples of my play with photos. The original photo is first (I hope), then the altered photo.

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I have no idea if I’ll use any of these in a quilt, but it sure is fun to play with the possibilities. I recommend the Pixeladies’ classes, but I don’t think they’ll offer the ones I took until next year.

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Filed under Techniques

Demystifying PhotoShop

This year I’ve vowed to get better at photography. No more crooked or bowed photos of quilts. My spare room now is accessorized with a tripod and lights.

I’m a few weeks into an online class in PhotoShop Elements. I know there’s cheaper/free photo editing software available, but the issue for me is always learning how to use it. My class has already been useful as I clean up and straighten quilts in old photos.

One fun task was abstracting a photo. This is sometimes known as posterizing an image. I know some software will do this automatically, but we’re learning the layers way, which gives more flexibility. I’ve been experimenting with photos from my last year’s Around Here posts.

These abstractions get even cooler when you invert them.

I’m beginning to know enough to become really dangerous.

 

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Filed under Commentary, Techniques