My Three ‘First’ Quilts

March 11th, 2018

I am not going to go into the complicated detail of this claim though – it’s long and complicated; I just want to post the link to this post on FB, which for some reason tonight doesn’t seem to want to allow me to post all three to illustrate the point I’m making in an exchange there 🙂

Distant Shores 1987

First Day on The Slopes  1988

 

 

Ancient Expressions 1  1988

 

 

 

Try Improvisational or Freehand Piecing!

March 8th, 2018

I’ve written before about freehand pieced work, including this article working from the scrap bag    This morning, looking around in my photos for something else, I was diverted by a sequence of photos I took last year while making this small piece for my friend Suzie.  I formed this collage to take some of mystery out of this kind of piecing known as ‘improvisational piecing’.  It’s a construction technique widely used by makers of ‘art quilts’ and Modern Quilts, too.

Suzie’s Quilt 30cm x 30cm.
Top left, centre and lower right – cut and remove an approx 1-2cm swathe.  Lower left – finished quilt; upper right shows pencil diagram and a strip insert pinned into place.  The tighter the curve, the more pins I use – just my way – there’s no ‘correct’ way.

Do a very basic pencil diagram if necessary (upper right),  audition some fabrics, start cutting and begin sewing.  No templates, no exacting measurements, and the result is a very organic look.  Improvisational piecing begins with simple steps, and the basics can be found here   If you want to try it at home sometime, thoroughly read through my 2 page notes first, then follow the easy instructions.  If you need any help or advice, don’t hesitate to contact me at alison@alisonschwabe.com

Working without pattern pieces is very liberating; it’s a worry-free way to construct quilt tops.  In my Memories and Ebb&Flow  galleries you’ll find many examples of works pieced this way; and I often use freehand piecing with grids constructed using rulers and different size quilters’ squares and triangles.  Honestly, anything goes, as it’s up to you how you use this technique.  By all means, pay good money and go to a workshop run by someone teaching this technique, which is fun, but if geographical isolation or financial challenges get in your way, you really can learn it by yourself at home.  You’ll find it in books and magazines, as well as online, but I don’t advise starting out by watching online demos. There are so many out there with different emphases, often by people more focused on selling you their book, that you may well become confused in a very short time.   I just looked at some, and found them all rather fussy, very precise and careful.  This is not what it’s about – it’s carefree, organic looking and meant to be very non-traditional in every way.  Using my basic illustrated notes, try working through the suggested few samples, while remembering that

  1. there is no correct way to do this kind of patchwork
  2. the only correct result is a flat one
  3. start out bigger than you want to end up
  4. resist the urges to trim as you go – save it till all piecing is done.

Feel free to use pins, marker pen or pencil reference points right on the cut edges which will be enclosed in the seam anyway  – use whatever you find that works for you.  When you’ve worked out how to do it and can repeat good results with practice, then if you will, spend a bit of time browsing some demos, but I think you’ll find you don’t need them.  Improvisational piecing has become a contemporary tradition, something to be shared in the time honoured way that traditions are passed along from one generation to the next.  So, what are you waiting for?

Rediscovered, 2011

February 28th, 2018

The illustrated catalogue I have just done of my works showed up a couple of gaps in my documenting, as although I thought I’d finished it, I just came across a photo of this piece, which I finished in 2011 just as a dear friend was leaving the country for South Africa and wanted to buy it.  So though it is in the Ebb&Flow series, and I didn’t remember to list it at the time, I have done so now.

Untitled, 2011, 60cm x 25cm  approx

At that time I was including burned synthetic fabric ‘lace’ in many of my works, and this one features plain black against black nylon organza, then the glittery layer lies behind five segments of pieced fabric – from memory each of these was quilted, but I’m sure Bradley will let me know some time. I really like how the lines in these five sections flow, and this piece is on my mind today.

Browsing With Pinterest

February 22nd, 2018

Every day Pinterest sends images of things it thinks I might like.  Because I can so easily become totally absorbed and lose hours happily wandering through images, following links one after the other, I rarely take time to browse.  It’s worse than Facebook.  So I clicked on a page of enticing images headed ‘stitch’, and found myself looking at a page of pics on which was one work I knew I’d seen before, by Cordula Kagemann and as it turned out, had saved in my own board Lines and Shapes, though I’d never gone to her website.  What magnificent work, collaging with cut paper and some fabric. Textile friends in Australia, note that she will be teaching there in October of this year.  Her cutout paper overlays feature various shaped holes and overlocking rings – my mind asked could you call this paper ‘lace’?

Holes and lace have been part of my inspiration for some time: http://www.alisonschwabe.com/weblog/?p=2620  http://www.alisonschwabe.com/weblog/?p=2620  and I still have this little leather sample on my board after about 10 years  – suede bonded onto unbleached calico/muslin, and to me this is definitely all about the holes… and I’m still thinking about it.

 

Snippets and samples of holes in leather and fabric … ? lace

The surface design snippet below is part of a 12|”x12″ quilt first bought in a SAQA Benefit Auction some years back, of gold leather triangles with holes punched from it sewn to a black background with gold machine stitching forming the grid. This week it was auctioned among a collector’s pieces which were donated to the organisation to benefit SAQA a second time, and I am thrilled to hear an Australian collector it.  I never gave it a title, but with hindsight perhaps I could have called it Black Holes on Gold Triangles …

A question I’ve had in mind before is this – what is the most important part of ‘lace’ – is it the holes, or whatever it is that surrounds the holes?

Road Trips

February 20th, 2018

We’ve done lots of them, at home and abroad, for various reasons including Mike’s work, medical trips from Outback towns to major centres, look-see rubber necking, to visit friends, attend the odd wedding, for tourism and vacations, plus one notable epic trip overland Mt Isa to Kalgoorlie, moving house but unable to fly across because of one offspring being post ear surgery… a fantastic outback journey out through Winton, Longreach, Cunnamulla, Wilcannia, Bourke, Broken Hill, Adelaide and across the Nullabor to Kal.

Ticket to Munmalary  1997,  150cm x 130cm,  (photographed against yellow)

Through road trips  I have seen and experienced a reasonable portion of the world – huge areas of Outback Australia including the wilds of Tasmania our home state, quite a bit of the southern part of South America, large tracts of North America and a little of Europe.  I’ve normally been in the front, either driving or on the passenger side.  Other times I have hurtled through a landscape to somewhere on a bus, with a particular sensation of looking sideways and seeing things slip by, which prompted Ticket to Munmalary, years after our Tent Period.  You can’t get to Mummalary by bus – or back in 1975 couldn’t anyway and I doubt things have changed much.  It’s an isolated cattle station out in the Alligator Rivers area of NT, on a dirt road punctuated by wide buffalo wallows, requiring a 4WD with experienced driver.  My memory of going out there for the first time was a passenger seeing an unfamiliar landscape that sort of flashed by in glimpses, like an old movie.

 

I don’t have the same sensation sitting in the front of a vehicle and able to see the road ahead.   This different sensation led me to do a series of little roadscapes a few years ago I called Road Trip #1, #2... and so on.  They are about 15cm x 20cm, mounted in some brushed aluminium frames, and I think there are about 20 of them in storage in Australia.  These were fiddly but fun to make, and each was loaded with memories of road trip experiences.

C

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