Posts Tagged ‘keeping a record’

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 …



Planning -My Way

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Quilters talk a lot about how they plan – and planning comes in different styles and levels of intensity, if that’s a phrase I can use here.  Many now use computer programs that manipulate photos,  draw lines and shapes, insert colour or fabrics,  putting together images to produce prints on fabric via home printers or printers in the university departments where they study/work  then do more processes (print, paint, machine and hand stitch, applique, cutting  holes, whatever) on top of that.  Others draw up large cartoons, cut each piece out and use these as patterns for areas in the piece they’re working on – an ancient, low tech, but tried and true way of developing a design.   Some keep photos, drawings, writings  and quotations all organised together in a visial diary, and I’ve seen some incredible albums that are themselves works of art.    And plenty of others keep little bits of paper floating around, backs of envelopes, paper serviettes, or tiny notebooks that tuck into their purses alongside the little digital camera.    This is more me – I always have at least a pencil and a scrap of paper if not an actual note book or camera with me.  Photos I download regularly, but the bits of paper… well, sometimes they turn up months later in a pocket or handbag I haven’t used in a while. 

Many years ago after recognising this weak link in the ideas chain, my son gave me for christmas or my birthday – they’re the same week – a fabric covered blank paged book about A4 size, urging me to keep my design ideas in it.  I have fairly consistently done so and now  it’s about 2/3 used, always in pencil so I can erase if necessary, which I don’t often do, as I think ideas should stand even if they aren’t quite ‘right’ in their form.  Occasionally I look back, finding the original ideas that led to particular quilts that sometimes I didn’t visualise as such at the time; so for example for each time I have been in Quilt National I can find the germs of those ideas there though the quilt doesn’t look like the original pencil ‘sketch’.   There are ideas I didn’t use at the time I noted them, but what I have diagrammed and written is enough to build on later.   Sometimes I go back and write a note on a page/diagram like “this led to Mission Beach , april 1995”   

Anyway, I thought I’d share something of the early design process as I know it, with these  two unrelated pages being fairly typical:

Hmm - it's been a while - this page goes back over 4 years.... and perhaps I didn't make quite enough notation to help me remember what the heck I was thinking about when I made these jottings! However, I did do them and one small piece did come from part of this page, and I think there are interesting ideas whether they bring back what was originally on my mind, or not! They're sort of short hand I understand. Diagrams and lists.

This work doesn't actually exist, but the notes are part of the shorthand about a lot of my recent work. My textile art is often designed on a grid base - that structure common to tradtional and non-traditional quiltanking, the zone if you like that I like to explore. My materieals are often anything but traditional - for example the Tracks series.

In another post some time I’ll relate a couple of diagrams to actual works, such as “Ora Banda” and “Mission Beach”  I’ll posssibly even show you the one wonderful drawing that I just cannot work out how on earth to put together!  I’m pretty good with piecing, even if I do say so myself – a line in my design book  is a seam waiting to happen – but this one has defeated me.  Stay tuned.

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