Purple Challenge

I belong to an online challenge group linked to my Janome 6600 and 7700 sewing machines and last month’s project was to create something using at least five different purple fabrics. This appealed to me because when I’m dyeing I almost always seem to end up with more turquoise and fuchsia left over and from these loads of different purples.

hand dyed purple fabrics

 I decided to randomly strip piece some of these fabrics together to create a background. I varied the widths and curves to create more interest and ended up with this piece.

random strip pieced background

 I then added some applique flowers trying out a new method of machine appliqué which I have just learnt on a Craftsy class with Beth Ferrier. She uses a narrow zig zag stitch rather than the reversed blind stitch which I have used in the past and creates an almost invisible finish.

I then quilted the whole piece with a variegated rayon thread, roughly following the curved lines.

 I wanted to experiment a bit more with this technique so made another small piece using a piece of multi coloured hand dyed fabric which I’d always thought rather unusable but cut into a small square looked so much better than I’d imagined


New Hornbill design for 2013

While waiting for the threads I’ve ordered for my Birds and Flowers quilt I started work on a new hornbill design.

 To start with I made a sketch from the photo I’d taken in a friend’s garden, leaving out unwanted background details.

I drew out a pattern for it in EQ7 and then put it all together using my own hand dyed fabrics for the background and borders, and a mix of hand dyes and commercial batiks for the bird, which I stitched in place using a fine satin stitch and 50wt cotton thread. I used a fabric pen for the markings on the casque to give a more natural look.


Birds and Flowers_2

It’s been far too long since I updated my blog and one of my New Year’s resolutions for this year is to write more regularly, so I hope I can stick to it. New year, new project and I have just started work on something much larger than I usually do and using only my own hand dyed fabrics. This is a detail of the work so far

.… and this is the panel of batik sarong fabric that inspired it.

 I drew out the pattern for the appliqué in EQ7 and then the next challenge was to choose the fabrics I would use. I knew the colours I wanted to use but couldn’t find the right background so had to dye more fabric   until I came up with something I liked. The first stage of construction was laying out all the stems. I used a light box to roughly draw some placement lines.

 The flowers I preassembled on a special nonstick pressing sheet and then applied them to the background.

 It took me two weeks just to assemble all the pieces and fuse them to the background fabric.

The next stage will be the stitching. I tried a blanket stitch, but it looked too clumsy, I’m not so keen on raw edge applique so the alternative is a fine satin stitch using mostly Aurifil 50wt cotton mako and some Superior Masterpiece thread.




Sunrise Over the Belait continued

In my last post I descirbed how I painted and prepapred the background for my latest wall hanging. The picture below shows the next step with the palm fronds pinned in place ready to be fused, then stitched.

I then added the detail on the far river bank using thread painting. I first used a dark green along the lower  and top edges, a lighter green to highlight the tree tops and then a thicker variegated thread for the palms alng the water’s edge.

The palm fronds were stitched in place using raw edge applique. Then the final step was to layer and quilt the whole piece.

The edges were finished with a narrow black binding.

 The completed wall hanging.

Sunrise over the Belait

I have recently been commissioned to make a small wall hanging for a friend from some photos she’d taken of here early morning runs along beside the Belait River here in Kuala Belait. She’d collected some lovely photos of the sunrise over the river so the challenge was to put these together to create something special.

With the help of Photoshop I combined the above photo of the sunrise over the river with the following one of the palm silhouette.

I decided the best way to do the sky was to paint it using fabric paints and it took me half a dozen attempts before I was happy with the result. The difficulty was to get the subtle light of early morning without it looking too washed out, and not to have the colours too bright so that it looked more like a sunset. This was my final choice.

The next step was to audition fabrics for the greenery along the edge of the river, and the river itself. The greenery is a piece of hand dyed fabric and I will later add more shading and detail with the use of thread painting. The water was another challenge as I wanted to use something I already had rather than dyeing or painting more fabric. I have lots of batiks with the nice stripes which give the impression of water but none were the right colour. I decided to experiment with fabric paints, first on a small scrap, then on the full piece and the results were just as I wanted.

Next step will be to add the palm tree then some thread painting.


Rain Forest Quilt continued

Once the foundation pieced background was completed I started to add details for the rain forest, starting with tree trunks cut from a striped commercial batik which was just perfect for this purpose. I then cut snippets of fabric backed with Mistyfuse to create leaves and foliage.

I used the snippets to help blend the tree trunks into the background to creat an illusion of depth. Snippets in browns, reds and golds give the impression of fallen leaves at the base of the tree trunks and brighter green snippets provide contrast and give the impression of new growth and sunlight shining on the leaves near the top of the quilt.

Once the leaves were all fused in place I then used free motion embroideryand various plain and variegated threads to stitch them all in place.

I also added plants in the foreground and hand couched some cotton yarn for tree creepers.


Rain Forest Quilt 2012

After taking a break from sewing over the month of December I started work in January on a new rain forest inspired quilt which I have been commissioned to make. I started by gathering together all my fabrics in various shades of browns and greens which I will use for the foliage, trees and forest floor.

my inspiration photo

I used foundation pieced crazy blocks in several different designs to create the base of the design: the forest floor and the background foliage.

selection of fabrics and inspiration photo for forest floor

making the foundation pieced blocks for forest floor

The finished background still has too many straight lines and abrupt changes of colour, but the next process of the design will be to add small fabric snippets to create more subtle blending especially where the foliage and forest floor meet.

the pieced background which will form the basis for the design



Quilting the stencilled designs

Having printed a number of designs using the splatter painting technique I chose the negative image of the tree creeper to finish and embellish. I used three different shades
of cotton variegated thread and one variegated silk for the hand quilting, and a box of mixed ’bead soup’ for the embellishment.

I started off with a dark variegated thread near the base of the creeper, quite dense scatter stitching to replicate the density of the paint splatters and darkness in this area. As I moved upwards and outwards I gradually used lighter threads and less dense stitching.

To begin with I found that I was consciously thinking about where I was making each stitch but as I went on I got into a rhythm followingfrom dot to dot, adding a bead here and there where there were bigger splatters of paint.

Towards the outside edges of the piece, where there were far fewer paint splatters I used mostly the lightest threads and more random stitches.

I finished off the piece with a narrow binding and hanging sleeve and as I enjoyed the process so much and find the hand quilting very relaxing and easy to pick up at any spare moment, I’ve started quilting and embellishing one of the other pieces.

view of the back

Splatter Painting

For one reason or another it has been an age since I last updated my blog, so here goes with some of my latest work.As part of my Creative Quiltmaking course I have been experimenting with splatter painting, a technique I first tried out on paper a while ago using stencils, an old toothbrush and watercolour paints.

This time I used the same technique but using fabric paints and some of my hand dyed fabrics. I used some enlarged copies of my drawings of an ixora flower and jungle tree creeper to make my freezer paper templates. I used a craft knife to cut out the shapes carefully so that I could use both the positive and negative images.

I ironed the freezer paper templates onto my fabric and then used undiluted Pebeo transparent fabric paints, gradually building up layers of colour. It took a bit of practice to get the right amount of paint onto the toothbrush to get an even amount of splatters and avoid any big clogs of paint.

For the flowers I used yellow, orange and red paints, adding each colour separately to create subtle blending. I then added a bit of blue for shading.

For the tree creeper I used yellow, green and blue fabric paints on a light yellow/green fabric which later proved very difficult to photograph. It took quite a bit of time to build up the depth of colour needed for the creeper shape but I was pleased with the end results of both the negative and positive images.

jungle creepers, negative and positive images

The next step will be to layer up one of these designs then embellish with beads and threads so I’ll keep you posted.

close up detail of negative image

First attempts at dyeing

I have wanted to try dyeing my own fabrics for ages, but have always been put off by the difficulty of obtaining all the necessary bits and pieces here in Brunei where I live. However, I couldn’t put it off any longer when I had to produce a range of dyed fabrics as part of the Creative Quiltmaking course that I am doing online through Linda and Laura Kemshall at Design Matters. I found a company in the States that would ship the dyes and chemicals to Brunei, convinced the ladies in the local post office that the dyes were for fabric and not hair! (30% duty on hair dye for some reason) and then I was all set to go.

The instructions given were for a technique called low water immersion dyeing, which means dyeing the fabrics in a small amount of liquid, using plastic bags or small containers. As well as being economical with the dyes this method produces lovely patterned effects depending on how much you manipulate the fabric in the early stages and how much liquid is added.

The aim of the activity was to produce a range of fabrics inspired by the inspiration items I had collected for the course. Not being sure how well these would turn out and being limited by the amount of fabric I had available I cut a lot of my fabric pieces into fat eighths. Even so I soon ran out of fabric and rather than waste the precious dye I used some local cotton calico fabric which also turned out beautifully.

I was really pleased with the way the fabrics turned out and am so glad that I have finally been prompted to try it as I am sure it is something I am going to do a lot of in the future. I love playing with colour and experimenting with the blends to try and get just what I want.

The exciting part is when having left the fabric overnight in the dye solution, you come to rinse it all the following morning and suddenly the wonderful patterns and colours start to emerge.

I ordered some more fabrics and had another big dyeing session, this time experimenting with scrunching the fabric into small containers, as well as using bags, and this produced some more lovely effects.

Of course with all this lovely new fabric to play with I couldn’t resist using some of it for the background for a new wall hanging that I wnated to make.