Archive for the ‘freehand cutting and piecing’ Category

Small Works

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

These are some mini landscapes composed in freehand patchwork, a large group of which I did several years ago for an exhibition.  They were framed in fabric, hand quilted in a minimalist way (by this time between 6″ and 9″ dimensions)  then mounted on woven recycled newspaper mounts, which seemed like a good idea at the time.

A year or two back I removed those that hadn’t sold from their newspaper mounts and brought them back to Uruguay with me.  Well I tidied my workroom a couple of weeks ago, and in that process found them, and have since mislaid them again.  ‘The painters have been in…’   is my current excuse .  But wherever they are lurking, they have been somewhere in the forefront of my mind since a recent conversation about new work in general with Miguel at Galeria Los Caracoles; and so I am doing some new small pieces to be mounted in some way. I have ideas on that of course that do not involve newspaper in any form, and will try a couple out.  These small compositions are merely 5″-6″ across.  The first one I made I cropped out of the photo because by comparison it looked really crappy.  So now what you see as the left hand one is just ‘OK”,  and then the right hand one, the 3rd I made,  I feel is getting nearer the mark of where I want to be with this work:

Obviously, they are ‘tops’ only –  and so therefore WIPs, but for today I am content to continue on with these mini compositions and see what  develops further… getting my eye in you might say.   Black’s dramatic, ecru will be lovely and quite different, plus I have several lovely colours of some hand dyed fabrics that will be interesting borders, too.  However I present them finally, I will not be weaving mats of recycled newspaper on which to mount them !

One interesting thingI find is that whenever I re-visit older work, something new and a bit different emerges, and it is often surprising.

New Work in Progress

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

This will be a wide piece, at least 2m wide and probably about 1m – 1.25m high. A couple of years back I did a piece I called Lightstream, thinking as I was at the time how as white light passes through a prism it is divided into the rainbow bands of colour. This is a follow up I have been meaning to do for a while, and so it may bear the same name, Lightstream #2. But it is also very much in the style of the Ebb & Flow series. Who knows, I may not name it, as I intend for it to replace a will quilt that has been hanging in my own home for several years. (that one will be retired to a labelled cloth bag.)
As each vertical strip of fabric I am inserting strips into is about 25cm wide, I have at least 4 more to go, maybe 5. I want it to look light and lively, full of motion.

As with all my pieced quilts, this is truly a scrap quilt, more accurately a scrap bag quilt, since I have emptied the bag containing small almost useless size scraps, offcuts, of fabric onto the floor beside my machine, and am diving into that peridocially, putting buts and pieces together to form strips of chunks of colour usually no more than a couple of inches wide, max. As I use them the curvy bits tend to make one edge trail off into a sliver – so that bit comes off and I add something more to make it a useful length again. sometimes I divide up a unit and intersperse another colour, or some cream, which if used occasionally gives the impression of some wandering line suddenly coming to an end part way across the vertical panel.

As with any scrap quilt, it might all look random, haphazard and unplanned ( some would use’intuitive’ here) but once all the strips are pieced, they have to be placed in relation to each other, adjusting either up and down or in different relation to the right or left edge. Probably one or two will need to be pulled out and replaced with something else – a need that doesn’t become clear until later. For example, the rather long sinuous bright blue close to the centre of the photo is a bother now that I step back and look through the lens. I will either break it up with some other colours or replace it totally. Alternatively I might consider long bright blue pieces elsewhere, 2 or 4 more of them (the ikebana principle) I also might even add in more cream here and there, depending on how the final 8 or 9 look done. Light and dark clear and bright, large and small spaces, and ‘incomplete lines’ all need to be balanced in the final assembly. That means another 20 hours or so in the piecing stage I estimate, or in other words, it’s about half pieced.

While all this is going on I am considering glitter, if, which colour and where, and the quilting pattern. At the moment I favour machine quilting with a shiny cream rayon thread wandering randomly from left to right; and that too may change.

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Freehand Demo at Uruguay Quilters 7/7/07 – arcs.

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007



Oh well, I suppose this is a nice casual photo arrangement that blogger has decided is ‘it’ for today since I really wanted to upload all these pics in close proximity.
On the right is a detail of fabric I have shown once before (post for 19th may) I show it because it is an entirely easy, sensible and indeed obvious way to divide a square/block with non-intersecting arcs, the underlying unit in the many I have seen of Susan Leslie Lumsden’s quilts, one of which is depicted on a postcard lying on the luminous quilter’s ruler up towards the top righthand corner of the central photo.
On the table are the segments I cut from 4 layers of fabric to be the first 4 blocks in a quilt for my DD, and which I used as a demo of freehand rotary cutting and piecing for two quilters who hadn’t seen it before. The arcs were then shuffled so that there was one of each colour in each block, and these have now long since been sewn together, and joined by many more. How will I arrange the huge number of blocks I need for a large kingsize bed? Well , there are several options, and I’ll decide what looks best a bit further down that road. They could be randomly oriented as in the printed silk above right, or in blocks of 4 with circle-like formations as per Susan’s, or any of the variations of Rob Peter to Pay Paul –all just arcs cut from squares. This way of working has lots of potential, and the particular bedspread I’ve just started is golds, blacks and dark browns, jungle prints, deep blues, and dashes of purples, oranges, tans, lime and citrus. They consist of commercial prints and several commercial hand dyeds, and as I go I will dig into the scrap bag for an occasional ‘zinger’ fabric to highlight the other fairly numerous fabrics I have gathered for this project.

Gathering of Quilters in Uruguay

Monday, July 16th, 2007

On saturday last I went to what was billed as the first national gathering of quilters in Uruguay. Now there aren’t a lot of us/them and two, Graciela and Soledad, have been in contact with everyone most of us know of; several came in from places several hours away from Montevideo but we still numbered only about 10 with several apologies – there’s a lot of ‘grippe’ ie coughs and colds, around in this freezing weather. I am the only non traditional quilter among them, no surprise there. But from discussions during the day it is clear that several of the quilters would like to learn some of what experimental quilters everywhere else are learning.

I went along wanting to initiate discussion about something I have noticed about all the work I have seen so far in Uruguay, from all the quilters I have met over the past few years – it’s more properly described as an actual lack of quilting. Apart from traditional geometric patterns, and they do tend to be the less complex ones at that, the one thing that has always struck me is that here the quilting is structural, minimal, period. None of that quilting-as-an-additional-surface-design-element so evident in some of the quilting done in many other countries. And in many art quilters’ works just now there is a huge range of minimal up to quilted-to-death, but overall traditional quilters generally add at least a moderate amount of quilting, but not here, and I’ve been wondering why. So, I took along Dijanne Cevaal’s machine quilting book, the latest QN catalogue, several recent quilt magazines from various countries, and one of my own quilts with a lot of close free machine quilting, and raised the question. Even the arrival of Polly whom I’d not met before, bringing several large bed quilts with lots of quilting, didn’t really defuse my questions. Polly lived in Canada for a few years and got totally hooked on P&Q there. And she was well taught.

We had a long discussion on this, with one comment being that Uruguay has no cultural background of quilting and even further, that there is very little societal value placed on technical excellence, key word excellence, in hand made things, which is interesting, and on reflection is at least partly true. A lot of beautiful things are hand made here, but often lack the highest levels of technical excellence reached elsewhere by many artisans in most media, and although this has been addressed by organisations such as Manos del Uruguay and the Hecho Aca’s shops and annual expositions, it is still evident.

Those present marvelled at free machine quilting as per Dijanne’s examples, and since I myself have done quilte a bit of fmq and non-tradiitonal hand quilting, I can see some demos and learning sessions coming up. Another general comment was agreed, that it’s only because no one knows how to do that nor been able to show them.

One girl, Susana blew me away with the very fine and very even quilting she was doing through much of the day – I kid you not, the needle was barely one inch long with an eye there is no way I could get a thread through, and she had the rocking-the needle-motion thing going, would get a few stitches on the needle, and then use a little non-slip grabber thingy to pull the needle through, rather slow and quite painstaking with amazingly long fingernails. Athough I could never work that way, and I’m quite jealous of those fingernails, she says that’s the way she likes to work and there’s no way I would try to persuade her otherwise: people quilt the way they do for all kinds of reasons, and I respect that. It will be interesting if she or some of the others ever become interested in experimenting.

Suitable cotton fabrics are difficult to find here in uruguay, even and perhaps especially plain colours. But it seems there is a great store over in Buenos Aires, and there was clearly quite a bit of fabric coming in from travels and some mail order. One quilter, Ines, is really interested in dyeing about which I know little or nothing – and she’s considering getting dyes down from the US, and buying a bolt of two of fabric from BA, and possibly sharing it with some others. she still needs some good quality tuition, though. I know I heard of someone doing shibori dyeing here, and will ask around to find that person and see if she can help – Uruguay is an amazing place, there is always someone working quietly in some corner that you rarely hear about.

After a lot of show and tell, I did another demo of freehand rotary cutting and piecing for those who hadn’t seen it and experimented at last year’s workshop… see next post.

Soledad revealed that Mosca, the large stationers in several places around the city including a branch out near us, told her they are no longer stocking rotary cutters and blades – she bought the rest of their stock, probably enough to last a lifetime – about 15 cutters and God knows how many 5-packs of blades, priced at about $1 and 50c respectively – no those are not typos. I’m off down to Mosca in the morning myself….but it might only be the store in her area, of course.

So, in many ways it was rather like a gathering of quilters anywhere else I’ve been to – so small it was more like a bee. Towards the end of the afternoon it was suggested that a group project would be fun – which I will do my best to avoid being caught up in! But it all depends, time will tell whether it ever gets off the ground, or indeed, what kind of idea is proposed. Although I don’t want the group to become a set of classes with me being the teacher and expected to come along each time with something new to teach, I am prepared to demo and show stuff that I know in small and relevant doses. I noticed for example that good quality neat, flat, square bindings were not much in evidence. That can easily be refined, and so I will do up a set of samples of my favourite french binding that I learned years ago from the Mimi Deitrich book, “Happy Endings” and take them along next time.

There’s Nothing New Under The Sun

Saturday, May 19th, 2007

In the Auckland Museum my first stop was the gallery featuring New Zealand design and finely crafted objects of all kinds including several textile numbers, among which is this gorgeous 1964 silk two- piece culotte cocktail suit, by designer Colin Cole. It was not made clear whether the fabric design was his, or not.

Anyone who has been paying attention to developments in contemporary quilt design will recognise this pattern in the fabric as having been done over and over, I wouldn’t say done to death but it has become a modern quilting classic, which I attribute to the development of freehand rotary cutting and piecing methods mostly – as well as being a totally natural way to divide a square by curved non-intersecting lines. Although many quilt artists have totally abandoned any suggestion of repeat or block design in their desire to avoid anything to do with the traditional quilting world, I have always found it fascinating to explore the nontraditional within structures of repeat blocks and units.

Several of my quilts built of blocks in this design including John and Sue’s Quilt, Mary and Joyce’s Quilt, Diamantina, Spinifex, and Tidal Shallows 1 & 2 can be found in the gallery pages of my website, www.alisonschwabe.com
The colours I really love.

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