Posts Tagged ‘battings. samples’

Deconstructed Circles

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Someone commenting on my latest work said last week wrote “deconstructed circles are popular now”, and she’s right, they are appearing in more art quilts, though I’ve been using them on and off for some time.  For someone who loves grids and works freehand the way I do, the deconstructed circle has great appeal as a design unit, as these two works in progress show: early stages in the construction of Maelstrom (2006)  left, and Anna’s Quilt (2008) right respectively.









What new work? you might be wondering.  True, it’s been a long time since I blogged, chiefly because I wasn’t creating (not even sewing hexagons) during a long illness late last year and the subsequent recovery period.  But recently I’ve found mental+physical energy coinciding, and have begun exploring ideas that have been on my mind a while.  I’ve keenly followed the the rise of  the Modern Quilt Movement with light clear colours plus greys and white that are so appealing to many that they are even beginning to populate traditional designs.  MQM’s website calls this overlap ‘modern traditionalism’, I just noticed.  A favourite Uruguayan artist, Mario Giacoya uses wonderful greens and yellows with small amounts of other light bright colours in his many rural landscapes.  A primary influence in my work is still landscape shapes, and earthy Australian colours, but I’m finding I’m wanting more ‘light’ and ‘bright’ in my work.











Although I’ve used the unit before, and am always happy with lines that don’t connect, I drew a diagram this time to emphasise that I’m thinking of some units having many lines of fabric in them, others few, one or possibly none, and I’m still mulling over that and will continue as the work proceeds.  This sample has more in common with Maelstrom above as the arcs are segments of colour.  My sample shows a complex set of them.  These were a bit tedious to make, but I’ve been thinking about this too and will rationalise and synthesise what I learned in this sample making stage:















When sample making I normally just go as far as I need to learn something.  But this one I finished and bound because I plan to hand it on as a gift, hence this documentation.  I still have to think about

  • hand v machine quilting ?
  • any role for glitter here ?
  • what about dots?
  • And what a shame I only bought about 20cm of this wonderful striped fabric …

The Bungle Bungles Series Continues

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

first seam of a new project

After all the fabric auditioning, consideration of scale of the units for this piece, there was a satisfying moment doing the first seam of a new project – all keen piecers of fabric know that feeling!    And, even though I was certain that the block/gold pin spot fabric will  be an important part of this particular quilt,  to test that theory I took the time to consider another option –

choices to be made


– and now think for this work I must make a choice.  It’s either the horizontal lines will all be black/gold spot, or the rock units will be striped with other rock unit fabric.   And while I’m considering that,  I’ll have a spot of lunch and a total change of activity, outside, as it’s a beautiful day.


I’ve just bought a new gold paint for the hand made dots I plan to put on the work I’m just finishing.  Samples are so important – so I tested it of course on a scrap of the background fabric – set with the iron, and it is really permanent.  I also bought a couple of cheap paint brushes and cut the ends off to use to make round dots….. and I especially like the fine ones on the RHS.    Fiddling with samples always suggests more than one idea, and I like the gold brush strokes against the black – there’s some real potential there….

gold paint sample



Holes, Continued

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

As I’ve said before, they have been on my mind for years.

holes in leather 2006 samples

This couple of samples was cropped from a pic I took of several samples back in 2006.  Hand cut black leather and punched gold leather – I know I had some big plan for this but the constant use of a leather punch leads to tired hands and arms, and I dropped the plan.    A change of scale, though, and change of material… well there’s a lot of potential for both ideas.

hole and lace

And these sample snippets are from this afternoon’s experiments – grey nylon organza bonded onto the cream canvas – sure, the pic’s a bit dull but I know what it means.  Down in the LH side are some triangular shapes bonded on of course but then hand stitched in various ways with several threads including metallic.  I keep thinking of how people only repair precious objects, and ‘mending’ is a frequently used motif these days in mixed media and textile works – but I hope I can use ‘mending’ in a non cliché way – I’m working on it.


square with holes

I don’t think it’s just the bold contrast why I like this little sample- approx. 4cm x 4cm suede leather piece, with a smaller square cut and rotated – those holes are smallest done by the leather punch I have.  There’s no way I could do something  with masses of these squares of leather – oh for a laser cutter here!  But, perhaps another material … this idea has lingered in my mind since 2006, too.


The Glorious Straight Stitch

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Sunburnt Textures Emb

Shown above is the title piece from my 1987 solo exhibition, ” Sunburnt Textures”,  and the detail is below.  Long before I started making quilts in 1989 I was using my favourite stitch, straight stitch in various forms in my fabric and thread art.  Other favourites include stemmed French knots, and stemmed Y-stitch.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Other examples are in the first gallery on my website, The Creative Stitch; pre-1988


Of course it is the running stitch that usually forms quilted textures but many other stitches can be used in lines or scattered/single form to function as quilting, although few contemporary quilt makers thoroughly explore these options.    I am currently doing some more explorations with the straight stitch:

straight stitch samples 1

I did have hope that this construction of the silver mylar between a metallic fabric and sheer nylon would somehow lie flatter with added stitchery – sadly it won’t, but that aside, there’s some exciting stuff stored in this little sample.  If I layered it with backing and batting it probably would then be flat, but I don’t want to do that so will have to  try something more, which might take a while to come to me.

Unusually for me, right now I have a piece in mind that already has a title, more or less, something like “Mostly about Red”  I am planning to use more of that shiny black chintz as the base,  bond mostly red shapes onto it, and straight stitching over the shapes like this.  I have some lovely florescent/neon threads that will really sing – like green which is of course opposite red on the colour wheel:

Sample - straight stitch over flat shapes


auditioning for red

Finally,  the red scraps and several uncut pieces  of red that made it through the auditioning process for the ‘red’ work.

From every pieced project, which I cut and sew freehand, ie template free, I save the offcuts  and segments of pieced fabrics in the large clear plastic bag you see on the chair behind the table.  The way I work, using many small pieces, I can often find great small pieces in the bag and use them – not because I’m miserly, there’s only a small amount of Scots blood in my veins – but it just makes sense to check out what I have in small bits first before cutting into the larger pieces, and there’s the thrill of a treasure hunt going through that digging deep process.


Batting Studies

Monday, December 5th, 2011

All quilters and many mixed media artists know battings come in a variety of composition (the fibres they’re made from) and loft (meaning how well they push against the surface fabric to raise the relief of the quilting design) and in the case of quilts for beds, warmth and washability can be factors in choosing an appropriate batting.   I’m no batting expert, but regular readers know I am very keen on samplising to see how different materials and techniques work out.   I have my favourites, but I’m not pushing any brands here- availability is highly variable according to which country or state you are in, and what your local quilt shop carries (that is if you have one.)  I buy good batting when I am in Aus or the US,  and which of my favs I buy depends on what’s in the shop nearest my Aus home or my daughter’s CO home at the time.  🙂

|I quilt by hand and machine, very often together in the same piece – countlessw examples in the  galleries on this website, even in the first gallery of pre-1988 mixed media works – ie, before I began learning about making quilts.  I teach a 2-day workshop on innovative quilting,  Quilting With an Attitude   The focus is to encourage the quilter to consider more than just the basic machined stipple patterns or the basic hand quilted running stitch; so early in the workshop students do a variety of samplemaking using both hand and machine stitches on the same sample sandwiches they bring pre-made from home,(ie their own fav battings) through which they then see how the same fibre performs in both hand and machine quilting.  So the excellent comparative study by Linda Steele of Australia and posted a few days ago 1/12 on  I found interesting as far as it goes.  Linda apparently does not do hand quilting,. despite her interest in surface stitch, but does do wonderful machine quilting, and it is worth taking a look at her award winning quilts on her website.  Her remarks about each batt she used are comprehensive, but I found myself wishing the same battings had been used for hand quilted samples, too, as it is by hand samples that even more differences in the hand can be detected.  (eg. loft, thread drag and bearding)

Back in my early novice days as a quiltmaker, I took several workshops, joined a great local guild (Arapahoe Couny Quilters, Denver, then  new and very progressive) and a local bee.  I loved it all, and could have remained a maker of traditional quilts, but various people I met through embroidery and quilting connections, plus my own creative embroidery background, caused me to head out into making my own original designs.  While I was still learning that batting isn’t just batting, the ACQ gave out to members 9″ squares of the 10-12 different kinds of batting available in our area including some that were nationally popular at the time.  Back in 1988, no one did machine quilting (although Harriet Hargreaves was probably already doing so,  preparing her first book and workshops on the subject) and the needlepunched cotton and wool batts, so favoured today, were not on the market.  So it was all hand quilting; the batts were cotton, polyester or cotton-poly blends of various lofts; and a fellow embroiderer gave a piece of silk batting ( felt nice but ultra l-o-w loft)  to include in my study.   Each batting piece went between light coloured fabrics on front and cream behind, and I hand quilted the same motif on each.  Each was bound and a grommet  put in a corner; I then put them all on a binder ring to keep together.  On the cream back of each I wrote the brand, composition, and any remarks on handling or results.  The differences were really interesting, as Linda pointed out; and really, now, to balance up that study I should/could hook those samples out of my Australian cupboard and  machine quilt something on each of them.  If I remember next time I go back I’ll retrieve them and at least look at them.  Some products have probably totally disappeared – certainly newer ones have emerged – eg. the much vaunted bamboo batting, which got a thumbs down from Linda – I believe that contrary to popular belief it is less ‘green’ than pure cotton batting, so who knows why it is to popular today – I haven’t come across it and am not likely to either, in Uruguay!  Well, how wrong I was there! a few days ago, April 10, much to my surprise, I found them while looking in a suitcase for something else:

Can’t imagine what happend to make one look very shrivelled, though …



Translate »