Hand Appliqued Small Quilt

July 29th, 2020

I recently posted on using gold straight stitches to hand applique joined strips of fabric scraps, http://www.alisonschwabe.com/weblog/?p=5758 and mentioned making a 40cm x 40cm piece – which I finished today. Yay!!!

Working title only at this stage is ‘gold oversewn bush colours’ 40cm sq.

To machine quilt black on black between the bands of colour, I chose a thread with dull finish to make it as unobtrusive as possible – which of course means that the lines of quilting MOL invisible! But it is there, and when I take it and the next one to my photographer, Eduardo Baldizan, in a few weeks’ time, I’m sure he’ll capture some close up detail at a dazzling number of pixels resolution.

I know many art quilters do have several pieces in progress at any time, rather as painters do, but it’s not normal for me to start another until I’ve reached the final hand sewing stage of either binding or facing, and the hanging sleeve. With more than one piece under construction, I find moving from one work to another distracting. If I get really stuck and can’t move on, I have been known to take something down off the wall, put it and those fabrics away completely out of sight before working on the next.

Sample Making – Auditioning Ideas

July 24th, 2020

The other day I found an interesting image called “Ruffles” from Peggy Ostercamp’s weaving on Pinterest. It consists of a core some fibre covered by a sleeve of her diaphanous hand woven silk fabric which is much longer than the core, so as it hangs it settles into wrinkles. Intrigued, I pinned the image to capture the essence of what inspired me at that moment, and immediately made a sample of a core with wrinkled fabric around it. I used firm plastic for my core and covered it with a tube of plain cotton, then added a few little needleweaving things – because when I saw Peggy’s work it immdiately struck me that this could be a framework/canvas for some kind of needleworked construction.

I’m busy oversewing fabric strips with gold onto a black background which I hope to finish today, but now I have this little sample kicking around, I can think about some possibilities:

  • use something non-crushable like nylon organza or some glittery fabrics I have in my stash?
  • make a soft rollable or foldable core rather than firm plastic sheeting?
  • hanging arrangement – sleeve? grommets?

Making a sample can show if an idea works, and may even lead to an unexpected ‘aha moment’ a long time after you make it. It can also eventually show that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should !!!

Lines, Marks, Stitches, 3

July 22nd, 2020

Of course I love glitter, but using thread the same colour as the background to oversew the strips is a whole other area to pursue. I like the effect of small segments of colour lined up beside each other against the black.

L to R – (a) black quilting thread – marvellous (b) black perle #8 – too thick and shiny, and (c) a shiny polyester thread – too thin.

The glorious straight stitch is my very favourite, with enormous expressive potential in lines that outline shaopes and build into patterns and in groups to infill areas. Previously http://www.alisonschwabe.com/weblog/?p=741 I’ve posted on some of the ways this most basic stitch of all has been used since humans began sewing fabrics together for preactical purposes, and it was invitable that the element of decoration appeared concurrently. It is a very human characteristic to decorate surfaces and objects in our surroundings, and there are others in the animal kingdom that also decorate, chiefly as part of their routine to attract a mate.

In my last post I wrote “The sewing is very calming and satisfying – a perfect project for these turbulent times.” With the rise of the Slow Stitch movement in the last few years, and appearance in the fibre art of Penny Berens, Judy Martin, Christine Mauersberger, Dorothy Caldwell and many more artists, the straight stitch is hugely popular. Of course, hand quilting uses straight stitches, but I have been creatively stitching with them since long before I encountered quiltmaking in the late 80s. These pieces date between 1986 and 2007:

Upper left, detail “Sunburnt Textures” 1987; Lower left, detail “Desert Tracks 5: 2007;
Centre, detail “Heritage 1”, 2005; Right, detail “On the Edge Of The Golden Mile” 1986

The next image is a collage of details from some more recent works (2004-2016) featuring straight stitch as both quilting and embroidery.

Upper Left detail “About Red” 2015, Upper Right Tetrahedron, “Wave” 2016
Lower Left detail “Ebb&Flow 8 2004, Lower Right detail “Sunburnt Textures 5” 2015

Lines, Marks, Stitches, 2

July 19th, 2020
Adhesive backed strips (L) gave smooth edges. Hand basted strips (R) gave frayed edges

Contrary to my expectations, I found I like the frayed version better. So in the past couple of weeks I’ve been working out how to work a complete work using this technique. I’m currently doing a 40cm x 40cm as a ‘sample’ on black – love the rich look of colour+gold stitch on black. The linear shapes are another of my favourite constructions, ie. strings of fabric scraps pieced to form a line, in the Ebb & Flow style motif I often reference:

  • Note the machine basting down the centre of each strip – of course it will be removed all the oversewing’s completed. I was so obsessed with hand stitch it took me a while to come up with this blindingly obvious time saving solution 🙂 and once I did a large work seemed perfectly feasible.
  • Joining the gold thread – I decided visible knots on the front of the work, as they add to the frayed thread textured edges.
  • One of my most valued pieces of sewing equipment, this blue hoop works with a spring loaded metal ring which expands to fit inside the groove on the inner edge of the blue plastic. I’m using it upside down so that nothing catches my thread as I sew. The working surface is only 15cm diameter, but it is so quick to release and move along a bit, it’s a breeze. I had a look online just now and machine embroidery hoops come in all shapes and sizes, and all look much more complicated, apparently designed to fit in one specific machine. This ring works with every machine, and when used the right way up sits flush with the sewing table. I bought it in an Elna shop 40+ years ago. I definitely need a hoop for this work – tried it without but it is just too slow, and this small one works really well.
  • The sewing is very calming and satisfying – a perfect project for these turbulent times. Based on what I’ve done so far, I estimate coverage of this kind over 40cm x 40cm will total approximately 12 – 15 hours. That makes it reasonable to consider doing a much larger work with dimensions of 1-2m.
  • And yes, with these colours and gold, this is definitely a landscape quilt, no working title at the moment though.
  • In different fabrics, with different threads in the stitched oversewing, totally different look will result. Very exciting potential that I feel is a natural follow-on from what I’ve been doing for so long. Making samples always pays off, eventually.

Selected Into AustraliaWide7

July 13th, 2020

With all that’s been going on in the world with this dreadful pandemic, I’d quite forgotten I entered into Ozquilt Network Inc’s biennial AW7, and so wasn’t biting my nails waiting for the jurying result notification that arrived in my inbox this morning a few days earlier than the organisers said to expect it. One of my two entries, Regeneration 2, was selected – which I’m very pleased about, but I had to check the entry form to find out which was which of two quilts I named “Regeneration” – #1 and #2 – I wouldn’t want to send off the wrong one 😉

Detail “Regeneration 1” Detail “Regeneration 2”

Regeneration 1 combines machine stitched bonded applique with hand stitched detail (grass) and Regeneration 2 was of miniature landscapes stitched totally by hand. I have always loved hand stitch, and this year I am feeling more focused on it, as you can see going back through my last few posts. By the time I made #2 I had taken the first Stitch Club workshop with Merill Cumeau from which I was inspired to add a band of freehand straight stitches around the border.

Looking through the record reminded me that the standard of photography, mine, is not nearly as good as I usually submit. Because when entries closed we were still in the early weeks of the pandemic, I was a bit nervous to visit my wonderful photographer, Eduardo Baldizan, so we have a bit of catch up photography to do sometime before #2 goes off for exhibition. I’ll post a better pic when I get it, but honestly, I am a bit amazed it made the cut …

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