Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Hanging Sleeve Instructions For Large, Rectangular, Fabric Art

Wednesday, May 15th, 2024

I was a little surprised a while ago when the conversation in a group I belong to made it clear that several people had never seen the memo about how to construct a hanging sleeve with a bit of ease to hold the hanging rod or wood or metal slat, so that the work hangs absolutely flat against the wall without any ridge appearing along the top. The reason for doing this is that in time every ridge will gather dust, which can be distracting, and the ideal hanging arrangement for a wall quilt also has absolutely nothing protruding from the sides to distract the viewer’s attention.

While it’s easy to construct this kind of sleeve I’m talking about, I do it automatically, and it’s decades since I learned it by watching a demo at a Front Range Contemporary Quilters meeting 30+ years ago. So when I blithely offered to ‘send you some diagrams’ this took a bit more work than I expected 🙂 The directions had to be carefully worded, and in the end, rather than hand-draw some diagrams, I made up a mock sleeve and photographed each stage of the process.

Directions for a ‘D’ shaped hanging sleeve for art quilts

On really wide (say 2m+ ) or heavy quilts, you might judge it best to make two or even three sections rather than just one long one, so that holes to go over a wall fitting can keep the hanging rod/slat straight, prevent it sagging in the middle – which wooden rods/slats might do, but metal rods won’t.

  1. Cut the width of the sleeve no wider than the edge-to-edge width of the finished quilt, and hem those two ends, so that the finished width is about an inch or 2cm in from each side edge, ie at least 2 inches/ 4 cm less than the finished over all width of the quilt, edge to edge.   The size or depth of the sleeve is usually required to be 4” – so measure twice that (8”) plus 1” inch – ie cut a piece of fabric 9″ X the width-of-your-fabric long.   For a 5” sleeve cut 10”+1”= 11” X required quilt width;  for a 3½ ” sleeve cut 7+1= 8” X quilt width, and so on.
  • Fold in half lengthwise.  Press. Then fold the long sides in to meet along the crease in the middle – maintain that first crease – you now have 3 creases.  Press.
  • Place the two long edges together, and sew with ~1/2 inch, or 1cm seam allowance, as shown above.  This means the seam allowance is on the outside of the tube, but when you stitch it to the back of the quilt, that will be hidden.
  • On the back of the quilt, pin one of the pressed folds about 1” / 2cm below the top edge of the quilt.  Pin the other fold below that so that the extra ease, the ‘D’, provides the tube through which the rod or slat will slide. 
  • Hand stitch the top edge first and I recommend starting at the top right of the photo, stitching from right to left to the other end, then stitch down that side, turn the whole quilt around and stitch from right to left to the other corner, and up that back end to the corner.  Voila! The sleeve is completely attached, the ends of the tube are open, and the seam allowance is hidden away.

Because the sleeve is at least 2” / 4cm narrower than the overall width of the quilt, no hanging hardware is visible from the front. With a properly sized rod (including metal hooks or eyes) and sleeve, the viewer in front will see only the quilt sitting flat against the wall, and just slightly out in front of it up at the top. If you have any questions or problems with this, please email me – alison@alisonschwabe.com

Visions of Landscape

Friday, April 19th, 2024

Looking back now, it seems my whole adult life has been destined to mostly be spent on flat plains, as I have just realised my personal landscape vision would be very different if I had remained, in my birth place, Tasmania, that mountainous island state of Australia which I left in my early 20s to live in Western Australia and points beyond. However much I have thought about what inspires my art making and how my past has influenced the present (and presumably will do in the future) it surprises me that I have only just realised this fact!!

Abstract landscape Textures, 2022, 190xcm x 95cm. Whole cloth, handstitched, Quilt National ’21.

I’ve moved about a great deal, as my exploration geologist husband’s career involved searching for base metals on 3 continents. The Nickel Boom of the 60’s-70s took us to Western Australia, and, for a few years he was in the search for uranium in The Northern Territory and Far NW Queensland. Gold took us back to Western Australia again, and from there he was transferred to Denver CO, for a few years. He was involved in a successful entrepreneurial search for gold and other metals here in South America for about 20 years until retirement. For the first two decades of his career we lived and travelled across the vast regions of Australia’s Outback, with the characteristically flat, very low profile grassy plains occasionally sporting eroded outcrops of ancient landforms.

Typical ’rounded’ ancient rocky outcrop. (photo – Dennis Gee)
This is typical landscape in soooo much of Outback Australia

The north of the Australian continent is known as The Top End, and subject to monsoon seasons from late November until May. Normally dry river beds fill and start flowing over flood plains as the water makes its way to the coast or low lying central areas that become shallow inland seas briefly before they disappear into the aquifer or evaporate. Besides coming alive with animals, birds and plants, during that season often some areas will become impassable, sometimes for weeks, except where all-weather roads have been constructed. Even as I write, this process is proceeding across the land on a grand scale following excellent rains in the first 3 months of this year, meaning this will be a bumper year for wildflowers, tourism and beef production.

In May, The Dry develops again and prevails until November, by which time vast areas of the essentially flat continent have produced a lot of grass which eventually dies back to leave almost bare the characteristic red soils that are typical of our Outback. But people can once again move around for business and tourism, pastoralists can move their animals around and muster them, and mining companies engage in mineral exploration programs of surveying and mapping, soil sampling and drilling.

In total, I’ve lived about 20 years in the Outback – Western Australia, Far NW Queensland and The Northern Territory – around heavily eroded, round-topped rock outcrops rising out of vast low-profiled plains. Australia is the most ancient, most stable, flattest section of the Earth’s crust. Here I should add that from the late 80’s we spent 6 years in Denver CO, the westernmost suburbs of which are at the very start of the foothills of The Rocky Mountains. Heading East from Denver, it’s a couple of days’ drive on I-70 across the Central Plains states of Kansas and Missouri to the city of St. Louis on the Mississippi River. For mile after mile, there’s nothing of note., just flat cornfields, grain silos and some railroad towns – been there, driven that.

In the late 90s, Gold exploration brought the geologist+1 to Uruguay, a very small, flat country situated in another flat grassy plains region known as the Pampa, This Pampa covers much of S. Brasil, E. Argentina and contains all of Uruguay. A few mesa structures rise out of these plains, too, in the north and east, and the highest point in the whole country is only about 520m.

Exploration geos must move to where the rocks are, and after so many years near heavily weathered, ancient rocks rising out of flat plains, it’s hardly surprising that I see ‘landscape’ in very basic primal shapes of wandering lines and arc shapes representing rounded top hills. If I lived somewhere with active volcanoes or recently dormant ones, I’d probably be more inclined to visualise hills as triangles.

Following are some of my landscape quilts made during the last twenty years. They certainly form a series based on my vision of landscape, which, as I outlined at the start of this post, has been entirely developed over extended periods living on flat plains with occasional rounded rocky outcrops, that is, very ancient weathered surfaces 🙂

“Dreamlines 3” 2015 70cm x 40cm
Kimberley 2 2002 110cm x 70cm
Kimberley Dreaming, 2015, 40cm x 40cm
Purnululu #7, 2015 ~110cm x 95cm
Purnululu #8 2018 175cm x 95cm.

My techniques are always very simple and involve any or all of hand applique, machine piecing and reverse machine applique. In recent years I have used hand stitched marks in my surface designs and quilting, where they currently predominate, and I haven’t done any piecing for several years. Except for the first one, Abstract Landscape Textures, all the above were machine quilted. Many Australian Aboriginal artists in particular outline major shapes with lines of dots, and paint filler patterns within those shapes in that distinct style known as ‘Aboriginal dot painting’. It’s something akin to Pointillism, although the coloured dots tend to be more homogenous rather than several colours mixed for the colour blending that characterises the Post Impressionist work of the pointillists like Georges Seurat and Paul Signac. Outlining something in a line of dots by hand, or for example with French Knots, is demanding of time and patience. While I never say “never”, in this case I’m pretty sure I will never fill in shapes with dots or knots… although now I think of it, a filler of French Knots is tempting…

Primal Patterns, 4

Friday, April 12th, 2024

At the end of an earlier post in this series, I listed a couple of links I’d like to explore one day when I had more time, https://www.alisonschwabe.com/weblog/?p=7604, Today I read part of this one – https://rdcu.be/dEuOG on the development of drawing behaviour in humans and chimpanzees – so therefore under the headings of animal behaviour and biological anthropology. Never having studied human or animal behaviour, I also hadn’t any idea of ‘biological anthropology’ either, and am a but an interested amateur, really, when it comes to anthroplogy as a whole.

In that paper was this statement – “One of the first steps of children’s early symbolic drawing development is tadpole figures10. Consisting of two lines (legs) attached to a round form (head), the tadpole figure arises around 3 years of age11 and is observed in Western as well in non-Western countries12,13. Thus, in the same way that children reorganize their spoken language to communicate efficiently, the appearance of these first recognizable drawings also allows them to be better understood by others14.

Tadpole figures I picked up a pen and did a test doodle – and yes, two legs attached to a round form do suggest a human figure, definitely!

It was quite fascinating reading, down to the bit where the authors moved on to the statistical analysis of their observations, and as this involves skills I don’t have, they lost me there. But that intriguing statement remains imprinted on my mind.

I don’t remember my now-middle-aged children’s drawing development, or our grandkids’ development either, (the youngest is now 21) So I picked up a pen and did a test doodle following that brief description – and yes, two legs attached to a round form definitely does suggest a human figure. I could be the last person to know this, as it’s probably old news to anyone who studied psychology 101.

So far my focus on primal patterns of lines and shapes has been Man’s physical environment through mark making of what are clearly symbols – but the tadpole figure as a primitive representation of the human form needs further thought on how I might use this amazing concept it’s taken me decades to encounter.

Inspirations From The Earth’s Crust, 4

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2024

My regular readers know my familiarity with basic landforms and structures, and my questions are easily answered by the in-house geologist here 🙂

I showed in recent a post how this work was inspired by rock strata, and showing how I’m representing the lines, shapes and colour of a formation featuring a normal fault using the particular techniques I’m favouring at present. It’s nearly finished and pretty much only the edge treatment needs to be done once I decide which technique to use for it. Options are a very fine binding in black or a facing.

Strata 2 (working title only) quilting almost completed.

Pieced fabric strips chosen for their earthy colours were fused to the black fabric, and linear patterns of stitching added to convey the impression of a layered, sedimentary rock formation split by earth forces into sections that over time were forced to gradually move along the faultline in opposite directions – standard textbook stuff, and in that post are links to images of some striking actual examples.

‘Strata’ seems a fairly popular starting point for fibre art design, and looking around I came across a website for an artist Caroline Burton with art inspired by geology , and of course, to anyone who works with fabric strips, those images of layered rock sturctures are bound to suggest using fabric strips in some way. I myself made a smallish piece with that title twenty years ago:

“Strata”, 2003, 65cm x 100cm – gold leather applique, machine quilting.

Checking some of my pins on Pinterest today, I was a bit startled to find an image I recently pinned of some cliffs along the UK coast that looks incredibly like the piece I’m working on right now. In fact I hadn’t seen the photo until the work was well under way, but I find it interesting to realise exactly why it was so appealing to me. Obviously that includes the lines and shapes, but equally important are the colours, which I carefully chose for their earthy quality, thinking particularly of some emblematic Australian Outback landscapes that I’ve lived and travelled in that are forever burned on my consciousness. But of course rocks anywhere can be in those colours – they’re not uniquely Australian. If you’re interested to see how uncanny this likness is, do go to the photographer’s website https://www.robertharding.com/preview/847-179/sandstone-rock-strata-waterfalls-sandymouth-beach-sunset-near/ Although I admire Robert ‘s beautiful photos, and I’d love to put that one up here for comparison, it would cost me over US$30 to do that, and my pocket just isn’t that deep! You could purchase a print from him but even better would be to purchase my unique wall quilt, which I’m very close to finishing, with just another hour or so of quilting, and as I said, just finish off the edge. Easier said than done sometimes, as either method requires care.

Is This My Work?

Wednesday, March 27th, 2024

I have been making and exhibiting fibre art for nearly five decades, and very early on someone advised me to always get photos taken of my art for the record. As cameras become smaller in size the resolution in pixels became greater, and today a tiny camera is a vital component of our smart phones. Sometimes, “looking back” over my work feels like something of an archeological dig, speaking digitally.

A couple of days ago I was looking though an external hard drive that has lots of old stuff saved on it, and lots were listed as ‘old pics #’ I opened these and found some very old pics indeed, many of them of our young family in the 70’s and early 80s. There were some early works, too – and then this sample came up. There’s no detail but it feels like something I think I might have done, and certainly something I could have thought of doing. It has several features that I really like, and if I made this, I forgot to follow up the potential of the dark threads that seem laid or possibly machined beneath the surface. The little squares, though, seem to be tied down, and I don’t remember doing that. The outer edges of layers of sheer fabrics are torn I think, which also casts some doubt in my mind. Never mind, if someone comes forward to claim it as theirs, I’ll give way on it.

I never throw samples away, and it’s not in my samples bag here. So there’s an additional complication – if it is mine I must have made it in Perth Western Australia and left it there in my sewing room stuff, which is still safely in storage, so I can’t check that theory.

Just guessing: possibly ~A4 size, layered sheers, possible machine sewing or black threads just placed inside the fabric sandwich, and hand quilting.

This next one is unmistakably mine, but date and whereabouts are uncertain. I think it must be in a cupboard here in Montevideo, probably because I remember being vaguely disappointed with its impact, and never felt it needed to be entered somewhere, so it sank from view.

Ebb & Flow 20. ~2013 Approx 120cm x 70cm

From the colours and style I’m placing it in 2013. One day when I have the urge to tidy out certain cupboards, it will probably emerge from hiding, and then I’ll measure it properly. The date’s probably on it beside my signature. Back then we had been travelling and I was in a lot of trouble healthwise which led to hip replacement surgery. So there was quite a long period in 2012-14 in which I made little or no art, and I now realise I didn’t tidy the record after my recovery. I now quite like it, and will mount a search soon, perhaps in the quiet over Easter, because from the proportions and without knowing the actual measurements, it could have been sized to hang on the wall in our dining area, like these two:

“Timetracks 15” 2009 250cm x 125cm
“Ebb & Flow 14” 2009 250cm x 100cm

I’ve rotated these about half-yearly for some time, but now feel we need something new and different.

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