Posts Tagged ‘strip patterns’

Photographing Quilts In The New Series

Friday, July 31st, 2015

Kimberley Dreaming pieces collage blog 2

 

I’ve just set up a photography date next wednesday with my photographer here, Eduardo Baldizan, who has photographed all my work done here, and is great to work with.

Unusually  for me, the bindings and sleeves of three are already properly finished.  Many’s the time I’ve hastily basted these things in place at the last minute for photography – you can’t tell from the front, and I am by nature a bit of a last minute wonder.

And as usual, there’s the lure of a  last minute pressure buzz – I have several days to attempt the next one that I’ve been mulling over while I make # 6, and think I’ll make a dash for it, beginning in just a few minutes.  If its a wet weekend, as expected, I’ve got bags of time …  the entry deadline’s not for another week yet!

Freehand Or Improvisational Piecing – The Basics

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

 

detail, Ebb and Flow 2

I’m quite often asked how to go about improvisational or freehand (template free) cutting and piecing which has become very widespread  among quilt makers in the past 25 years- a modern tradition really.  Widely used by art quilt makers who piece their designs, and seen in quite a number of Modern Quilts, it’s all rotary cut and machine pieced.   The following basic instructions contain all you need to know to begin, as I only learned it from watching a short demonstration by Nancy Crow at the start of a several day long workshop, and then plunging in to using it straight away. It enabled us to rapidly get through heaps of exercises in her class on design and colour.  I’ve been enjoying this way of piecing ever since.

basics of improv

 

Hand piecers could use this just once,  perhaps, to make some wayy lines in the one direction  but it really is a machine technique,  even if you’re pretty speedy, as hand sewing won’t allow for more complex cutting, re-arranging, inserting slivers and so on.

Freehand or ‘improvisational piecing’ has become a modern convention – and once you recognize it, you’ll see it wherever there are pieced art and non-traditional quilts.   Elsewhere on this website are two galleries of my original quilts made between about 1990 and the present –  the Color Memories gallery followed chronologically by the Ebb& Flow gallery.  Keep in mind that have been piecing this way for over 20 years, but I too began with these simple instructions way back then.   With practice, you too will be able to achieve more complex constructions if you wish.

Basics of improv blog image

The main things to remember are:

  • to place both fabrics right side up
  • without built-in seam allowances, as you cut and sew each fabric shape its area showing on front becomes progressively smaller – so start out larger in anticipation. Experience will tell you how much to allow, but, if you run short somewhere on a side you can always add another piece as quilters traditionally have !
  • in addition to getting smaller, so, too, the edges become progressively more irregular. Resist your trimming urges until you have finished ALL the piecing.   When you do get round to trimming, discard tiny pieces but keep anything useful – small bits also piece up into lovely freeform mosaics you could use for appliqued or printed designs – see Judith Trager’s work among others for some good examples.

Alicia Merrett ‘s YouTube videos, are good in a very precise, controlled way –but, they were pitched to careful traditional quilters, but even so, you might find them helpful.    In the Nancy Crow class where I learned this piecing, we had a lot of colour and design work to get through in the time, and Nancy showed us these basics that enabled rapid working.  We put all rulers away and did no pinning, just putting edge to edge and sewed.  Some managed this better than others in the workshop; and at home I found my own way of working which includes periodic dots along the cut edges with permanent marker or other pen/pencil/chalk – and even more of these in tight curves.    I usually pin every few inches, more in tight curves –  but it all depends…. there are no right ways to do this, and only one correct result – a flat one.  Once you have learned the basics, experience will teach you whatever you want to know next – think it, try it.  And, if you ever need my advice or help, feel free to contact me through this website.

 

There’s Nothing Like a Bit of Scrap Bag Diving!

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

I keep a large bag of small scraps., principally offcuts from projects.  When I’m clearing up after finishing something, anything worth keeping goes into the large clear plastic bag on the floor beside my sewing table.  The bag being clear helps, just a little, when I’m looking for something in particular, as I was this morning.  I needed more earthy colours to add more shapes to the current Bungle Bungles piece I’m working on, you may remember.

earthy colours

Relatively speaking, piecing like this uses as much fabric in seams as shows on the front.  When I’m doing pieced work, I use a large variety of different fabrics in small amounts; and nothing is cut out in advance, its all cut freehand and sewn seam by seam in the technique known as ‘improvisational piecing’. The Ebb&Flow quilts in particular are assembled in this way with a lot of scrap bag diving along the way –

SCRAP BAG  Ebbs and Flows

 

 

Needing more of some fabrics including some of those little one-offs that add spice, I took a deep breath and began scrap bag diving – well, turned it all out on my table, and started sorting though, selecting things I can use, and putting most of it back into the bag.

SCRAP BAG archeology

SCRAP BAG  save all yellows

I carefully save all offcuts of every yellow, partly because although I rarely buy any yellow fabric, a touch of a yellow value here and there in every piece of art, whatever the medium, is vital, literally giving life to the work. The more valuable the fabric/colour, the smaller amount I am prepared to save…. and the smallest piece of a strong almost acid yellow I came across this morning was barely 3cm x 1cm!

SCRAP BAG  save yellow

This piece of yellow with airbrushed red and blue is gradually running out – so its very precious. I have about  3cm x 4cm left of a fat 1/4 bought years ago from Deb Lunn in Denver.

 

SCRAP BAG good grief

This morning I realised scrap  bag diving is rather like archeology, digging down though the past – and like archeology, it throws up some puzzles, of which this is one!  I don’t remember putting it together, but these are definitely my fabrics, and all sewn together by me, for sure – but why?  I certainly don’t remember anything in which this sequence appeared.  It’s a nice yellow in that striped print, though….

 

SCRAP BAG elegant snippets

I really don’t remember the work these offcuts came from – they were trimmed off after the gold stitching along each place the cream meets the print…. quite elegant, really, and I may do something more in these gentle neutrals soon. With gold stitching/quilting.

 

 

 

SCRAP BAG extra units CynthiaSCRAP BAG raided block

I often work in repeat units – and always make a few extra to get the best possible result when juggling them at the assembly stage. From ‘Cynthia’s Quilt’ top, and ‘New Directions’ below, come these ‘spares’ which have useful sized pieces – and the raiding has already begun on the lower ‘block’.  The fabric in that block terminating in the triangle/arrow head is destined for salvaging for use in the next set of strip assemblies I need to put together; I only ever had a small amount of it and I’m down to last few square centimetres…

 

SCRAP BAG one glove

And finally, much to my delight, virtually at the bottom of the heap, I found one of the pressure gloves I’ve been missing for a while, since last spring really….so then I had to tip it all out again and go through more carefully to find the other.   And sure enough, it was there.  The weather’s getting cool again, and some days now my hands are feeling a bit in need of pressure on the arthritic joints – so this find was timely and welcome!.

The Bungle Bungles of Australia’s Kimberley

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Known as “Purnululu” to the indigenous people of the region, and later known by Europeans as  “The Bungle Bungles”, these ancient landforms are located in a remote region of Australia’s north west known as The Kimberley.    It’s hard to get to, distances are long and rugged travelling, and though very expensive, flying over it is a very popular way for some to experience it.  I haven’t been there yet though I have travelled over a lot of the Kimberley region, including all the towns mentioned on this location map.

The Kimberley map

The Bungle Bungles have long been depicted in Aboriginal art from the area, and the formation has become a familiar motif in collectable art  in formats ranging  from paintings to Tshirts, graphic logos and 3d sculptures.

I’ve been inspired myself.   Back in 1993 I finished a quilt called Nightfall In The Bungle Bungles  155cm x 148cm part of which is shown here on the left. When finishing off this quilt, I went to a workshop by Nancy Crow at which I learned the basics of improvisational piecing which changed the whole way I piece fabric.  If I’d left making  NITBB until a month later, it would not have looked like a row of Egyptian pyramids 😉

BBungles Kimberley 2 collage blog The idea stayed with me and in 2002 I had another go, and the result, above right, was Kimberley 2, 70cm x 110cm.  

 

Wherever you go in this area it is impossible not be be impressed with distance, remoteness and dramatic scenery including waterfalls gracefully falling over over towering cliffs into the clear refreshing pools at their base.  Such cliffs inspired Kimberley 2, 1996,  110cm h x  70cm w, an irregular shaped peice photographed against a black background.

kimblerley

 

This morning I came across a call for entries for a textile art competition to be called ‘Kimberley Dreaming’ to be shown in Australia later in the year.  The required format is 30cm x 30cm.  I have some ideas gelling and enough time to put one or two into effect before the closing deadline – so I’m off to dig through my scrap bag for suitable fabrics to begin putting something together.

 

 

 

Love Affair With a Special Fabric

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

A very special fabric and I were first introduced in 1990, and I’m still in love with it.  Its a cotton,  printed black with irregular tan coin spots, designed by and American designer, Jennifer Sampou for P&B Textiles in the early ’90’s.

 

I was living in the US when it was released, loved it at first sight and bought some on the spot realising it was the perfect border and sashing for this quilt, below, I was making at the time. “Through The Windows of My Mind” 1990, 256cm sq. became one of the earliest  Colour Memories quilts, inspired by the vegetation colours and landscape features of the remote tent camps we lived in for a couple of field seasons in the Northern Territory. This time, 1975-6, I now refer to as our Tent Period, and to me this quilt says it all.

Through The Windows of My Mind blog cropped-1

Several years later, I saw this fabric remaindered somewhere in the USA at $3/yd, so naturally I bought the remaining half bolt.  Although this fabric design was released in several colourways, the tan/black certainly is evocative of Australia’s sunburnt landscape and our national sense of colour; plus clearly in the minds of some it also referenced the dot paintings of some of our indigenous artists.  As Jennifer and her range were clearly American I am sure this is happy coincidence, and I think the black/tan colourway was actually too hard for American quiltmakers to use with their totally different ‘national colour palette’ – no wonder it was remaindered, imho.  Having about 9m of this fabric now, I began work on this 2m sq work, “Desert Wind” 1995, and I wish I had $1 for every time someone said something like “Oooh, so you do Aboriginal quilts, too !!”

Desert Wind copy blog

I understand the comment of course, but it’s never been said about this next one though, which to my mind might be more deserving.  Its title “Kimberley 2” 2002  90cm x 110cm refers to the Bungle Bungles rock formation located in the Purnululu National Park  up in the Kimberley region of Australia.

 

Kimberley 2 blog

 

I also used it as a background fabric to the blocks in this next quilt, “New Directions” 2002  96cm x 84cm    in which the lines and arrows represent people coming to our ancient continent from all directions over its entire  human history: the black/tan of course here signifies the original immigrants, our indigenous people who crossed the land bridges from Asia  perhaps at least 60,000 years ago.

New Directions blog


I still have about a metre of the fabric and eke it out,  and there are plenty of small bits in my scrap bag so pretty well every Ebb&Flow quilt has a little in it somewhere.  Some of it went into a bed quilt for our daughter a few years back, and there’s some on our bed, too.  I kick myself when I think of the 4 metres I used on the (never seen) back of “Desert Wind” .   I guess I naively assumed at the time that such a marvellous fabric would always be available … well of course, I now know that’s not true !   But what is true is that every now and then a fantastic fabric will come into my orbit;  I will instantly emotionally bond with it and recognising it as special, will buy as much as I can, at least 3 metres if possible.  I always make sure I have a credit card or some cash on me when I’m out and about in likely places.  Most important of all, I know I will use it because I love it.

 

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