After several months and many, many hours of work my “Birds and Flowers” quilt is finally finished and hopefully on its way to Birmingham (or maybe even already there).
Virtually all the applique was done with Aurifil 50 wt cotton thread and I used the same for the quilting. I actually did this part quite quickly because I when I first started to quilt the design it wasn’t looking so good with lumps and bumps all over the place so I wanted to get it finished and smooth again.
Before the quilting was done I also added some hand embroidery to make the stems for the little pink flowers.
Also to add a bit of interest to the larger leaves.
And hand dyed cotton thread on the tail feathers.
A section of the finished quilt.
Another section of the quilt showing some of the embroidery detail.
I recently signed up for a Craftsy class with Gloria Loughman called “Linear Landscape Quilts”. It’s a really good class and the first sections on choosing colour schemes and fabric painting are almost a class on their own. To make her “linear landscapes” she uses two layers of fabric and a clever raw edge applique technique which reveals slithers of the underneath fabric to create the effect of contours. The landscape she created is very appealing but as I watched the video I realized that this technique could be adapted for things other than landscapes so I decided to try it out on one of my own designs.
My inspiration was this jungle plant which grows in the Sarawak rain forest and has beautiful curved and ribbed leaves.
My first piece is a close up study of these leaves using some of my hand dyed fabrics.
I was happy with the way that this first piece turned out so I decided to try it on a larger design using the complete leaves.
I used a bright green for the base, with a darker green for the main part of the leaf, and made three pieces like this. It’s time consuming but very effective.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
A few weeks a go I started work on a new rain forest waterfall design. I first drew out the basic background design onto nonwoven stabilizer and then gathered together my selection of fabrics for the background forest, rocks, pool and and sandy foreground, mostly batiks and hand dyes.
I started with the lighter background area behind the waterfall. Before starting work on the main quilt I made a small experimental post card sized piece to try out the technique I wanted to use.
Once all the pieces were fused in place, I added free motion stitching to give greater depth and create the impression of foliage. I then started to build up the layers of rock using invisible machine applique.
Of course, as usual I had my feline ‘helper’ making stitching a little difficult at times.
With the background now completed it is time for the fun part….adding all the details and embellishments. So far I have started adding a few snippets to give the effect of foliage in the areas surrounding the waterfall. These have been fused in place and then once I am happy with the arrangement I will add free motion stitching and some couched yarns.
For the waterfall I used some fine tulle which I shaped into folds to give the impression of flowing water and held in place with a free motion zig zag stitch and invisible thread then further free motion stitching and rayon thread. Behind the tulle I added a layer of angelina fibres to add a bit of sparkle.
The waterfall before being stitched down. I will next start to add rocks and foliage to the foreground.
These birds nest ferns normally grow high up in the canopy, but they happily grow at ground level too. This one which we got as a small plant a number of years ago has turned into a beautiful specimen, and we now have others all over the garden. I love the shape of the curling fronds and recently I took some photos thinking that they might be good inspiration for a quilt design.
I drew out a pattern in EQ7 and then I decided I would try out the design in a small format as fabric post cards.
For the small design I had some bright green batik fabric which I’d had a while and not used because it was less tightly woven than normal batik and I’d always thought it a bit flimsy, but it worked fine for this project. For the larger piece I used some beautiful hand dyed fabric by Heide Stoll-Weber which I’d bought at the Festival of Quilts this year. I was a little reluctant to cut into it so soon but the fabric was so perfect, with all the subtle colour variations, I had to use it.
I assembled the ferns using a non stick pressing sheet before fusing them to the background fabric. I then used a fine satin stitch round all the edges.