Tag Archives: quilt

Using Practice Pieces

I hate wastefulness. You, like me, may have accumulated a stack of small free-motion practice pieces, and have already made all the potholders and mug rugs that you can use and give away. Larger free-motion practice pieces are great for easy oval placemats. I take a double-page-width sheet of newspaper and fold it into quarters. I draw a gently-rounded corner by tracing a plate from the cupboard.  I cut out the traced corner and unfold for the pattern. I cut the oval from my pre-quilted fabric and bind the edge. Done!

I’ve made custom-sized cases for my too-large-to-fit-in-a-standard-case Fitover sunglasses, my digital camera, and my harmonica. I measure around the object, add a slight ease and use double fold seam binding or leftover quilt binding to finish the edges. If they get dirty, they are machine washable; when they wear out, I make another.

Today I finished a small diameter neck pillow that I wanted in order to be perfectly comfy watching T.V. in my favorite chair. I rolled up a 12″ x 12″ piece of memory foam, sewing it to retain a tube shape. I finished three edges of 18″  x ??” rectangle from my free-motion practice pieces stack. I wrapped the fabric around the foam and hand-stitched the edge. The ties are seam binding I’ve had so long the color is faded. Cute and comfy… it only took a couple hours from idea to finished… and was made entirely from supplies on hand.

Advertisements

Drawing with thread

Here are photos of two small fiber art pieces I did at different times in the past few years. They are drawn by free-motion quilting, drawing with thread. I would call them moderately successful, but I do not feel I’ve totally mastered the technique of drawing with my sewing machine. The secret to getting really comfortable with any technique is practice, practice, practice. I believe the maxim that it takes ten thousand hours of effort to become an expert at anything. I need more material on which to practice.

So, I’m reviewing and re-evaluate drawings, scribbles in sketchbooks, and unfinished paintings that have accumulated in my studio. I hope to find an image worthy of translating by free-motion quilting to become an art quilt.

Thanks, Dot detail

Cardiff Character

 

November 10, 1945

Today I’m putting the label and border on “November 10, 1945”, a 14” x 24” work. I want to have this work finished for a presentation about making art quilt portraits that I will present in mid-January.

It is the 6th portrait I’ve done, a continuing exploration of techniques. Four portraits are of me, not because of great vanity, but because I am the readily available, no-cost model. One is from a photo of my daughter and this current effort is from a photo of my parents on their wedding day.

I had seen the wedding photo my parents had displayed in our home. In it, they stand together in front of the altar of the chapel at the army base where they were married. They stand stiffly and seem a bit nervous, with mom tugging at her right sleeve with her fingers. As I went through family photos looking for some images to harvest as a basis for artwork, I came across a better photo, one taken after the ceremony with all the wedding party. Holding hands, with fingers interlaced, they look ahead with relaxed, joyful smiles as they begin life together. Mom’s other hand now holds the marriage certificate. There is much more “story” in this picture.

Nov10_4web

I estimated the size art quilt I wanted, which gave me the percentage of enlargement to use when copying the image with my printer/scanner. I traced an outline of the two figures from this enlargement onto unbleached muslin. Referencing the photo, I drew details in graphite pencil. I colored the image with Prismacolor colored pencils. (I had first tried Derwent Inktense pencils, set by dampening the dry pencil drawing, then ironing. There was too much color bleed, because the small size of the faces required precision to render a likeness.) 

I auditioned possibilities for background fabric. I found a large scale print that reminded me of fabric in the curtains of my parents’ first home. The bold color would overwhelm the pastel drawing, but the wrong side of the fabric was perfect. I did not want the distraction of the print behind the faces, so came up with a heart shape to frame the faces. It may be a bit cheesy and obvious, but the shape fit the image well and gave it a pleasing symmetry.

Nov10_3web

I cut out the drawing, leaving less than 1/4 inch seam allowance to turn under. I glued the seam allowance under and appliquéd this cutout to the pieced background. (In retrospect, needle-turned appliqué would have been more precise.)

I had deliberately made the faces small so that quilting could outline the faces and not run across them. I hand-quilted within the figures and used machine free-motion quilting on the background. My sleeve for hanging the work is also the label. I use the computer to size and space text for the label, then trace the words with Sharpie permanent marker. I was tracing onto a print with dark and light areas, so I outlined the dark marker with white pigment ink (Uni-ball Signo broad) so that all letters are readable.

Nov10_2web

Now, I’ll post this and get back to sewing. Happy New year to all my followers.

Bullseye experiment continues

I do view each art project like a scientific experiment. Controlling some things, testing variables. Here is my thinking after about five more hours working on Bullseye experiment #1.

I enjoyed playing with the colors, finding myself adding more gold and orange, less white and yellow. This added middle values, altering my original idea, which was for sharply contrasting darks and lights with no middle values. I use a sequence for color decisions: 1. decide range of values of light to dark, 2. decide hues that best express idea, often a named color scheme like complementary or analogous. 3. decide color temperature, and intensity. All decisions are based on whether the work needs more harmony (repetition/sameness) or more variety (contrast).

One of the most important things to do when designing any art work is to periodically evaluate progress. The low tech way to do so is to step back and squint at the work, which reduces detail and color information. Another way to get a fresh view is to use a reducing glass or mirror. Modern technology offers another tool, the digital photo. My step back revealed light areas of my dark background fabric which confused the design. I darkened the areas with markers.

I had used up my fabrics that had fusible already ironed on them, so dived into my stash for any other whites, ivories, yellows, golds or light oranges. I used plates from my kitchen cupboard to make templates, drawing around them in pencil. I had been using scissors to cut the circles, but tried a small diameter rotary cutter and found that faster and more accurate. I pinned, then attached pieces with water soluble glue. Fabrics without fusible were translucent and tended to fray. I decided that intensive quilting would overcome those flaws. This is a quilt I am making as a learning experience, not a quilt destined for a highly competitive show.

I was slightly distressed that this quilt was not consistent with my other work, not expressing my personal “voice”. I want to add an element that is in most of my other works…words. I will write some thoughts about roundness with markers in the center area. I want to use some of the fancy decorative stitches on my sewing machine that I use very rarely. Here the current state of progress:

 

Declaration of Sentiments

I’ve just digitally submitted my two entries for an art quilt exhibition with the lengthy title: Declaration of Sentiments 1848 — The Struggle Continues. This Studio Art Quilt Associates regional show, with the theme of women’s rights, will be a part of the AQS Show in Paducah, KY September 13 -16, 2017. After that, it will travel to other venues until August 2020. The exhibit is juried, so there is no guarantee my two submissions will be chosen from among many other hopeful artist’s entries. Whether they are accepted or not, I have throughly enjoyed the process of making my entries…the research, the problem-solving and the adrenaline rush of beating the entry deadline. Here are my artist’s statements and photos of the works:

Glass Ceiling – Women are not equally represented in positions of power in government or business. Pay inequity persists. Today’s young women must work assertively but peacefully to break the glass ceiling and take their places beside men in the workforce.

Glass Ceiling

(detail) Glass Ceiling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(detail) Glass Ceiling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Claiming Power – It took courageous people and many years to claim the rights American women now enjoy. A large figure, representing all women, marches with historic figures who promoted women’s rights. Text from the Declaration of Sentiments conveys the main ideas.

Claiming Power

(detail) Claiming Power

 

(detail) Claiming Power

I AM STILL HERE

I made a fast and fun 12.5″ x 12.5″ quilt…only three days from the idea to the finish. The sketch was made of large simplified shapes. I chose a face, because I have a presentation next week on making art quilts with faces as the subject.

I traced my line drawing onto a piece of fabric in permanent fine line marker.
I gathered bold bright fabrics, digging through boxes of plaids and polka dots.
I worked flat, with my base fabric pinned to a piece of foamcore, glueing my cut fabric shapes to this base with tiny smears of glue in the center of each piece. I pinned together these layers: white tulle with glitter, the fabric collage, a thin batting, and a backing fabric.

I used only two colors of thread to quilt, peach and teal blue. Details were added as I sewed: eyebrows, creases in the hand, including a long life line,  spirals in the cheeks (the symbol of life journey in some cultures). As I got to the nearly- finished stage of sewing on the binding, I composed a poem to explain the quilt’s story. Every quilt has a story.

Here’s the result:

 

Recovering from my Retreat

It may sound a bit odd that I need recovery time after a retreat, but I do. I spend a lovely seven days in Portland, Maine. I went a bit early prior to Susan Carlson’s Monday through Friday class teaching her fabric collage technique. I am a bit sleep deprived. I got up early each morning because I did not want to  miss a thing, but my hotel room faced a lively bar that had music thumping until 1:30 am every night.  Yesterday I spent a really long travel day coming home. I missed and had to reschedule plane connections going to Maine and coming home, but eventually arrived safely each time!

This retreat has been eagerly anticipated. I had spent weeks refining two drawings, then a full day choosing fabrics to take. I was not sure which project option I would choose. I picked the one that I felt would allow me to learn the most: a head and shoulders view of a Toggenburg goat named Cindy.

I had read both of Susan’s books about fabric collage and I had been following her blog for a year, so nothing she presented was a great surprise. It was very useful to practice the technique with input from Susan. She urged me to use colors brighter than I would have otherwise chosen. It took days of practice until I began to select smaller bits of fabric from many sources rather than a larger piece from a single fabric. Generous fellow students helped by donating vivid fabrics that I never would have purchased. Here are photos taken on the first day and fifth day of the retreat. I will have to set the project aside until I finish things that have a June deadline, but I’m keeping this collage project propped up in my studio and will work on it a bit to keep my motivation up.

Cindy on Friday

Cindy on Monday

Teacher Susan Carlson