Meet my friend

For the past few years I have been going back to England for the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham and several years ago I met up with Deborah O’Hare from The Blue Hare and Quilt Routes.

Deborah as well as being an art quilter produces unique hand painted fabrics, quilt patterns and kits. We got to know each other through our blogs as Deborah saw some of my quilts online and she has also lived and worked in Brunei. Deborah now lives on the coast in South Wales and many of the art quilts she creates are inspired by that coastline and the countryside around.

Since the first time we have met up at the FOQ almost every year, and for the past two years Deborah has had her own stand. I have been very tempted to have a stand myself and while chatting together last year we came up with the idea of having adjoining booths so that we could open them up and share the larger space to display our work and also have a friend to be with as we will both be doing the show on our own.

This idea has now become a reality so the countdown has begun and I’m working flat out to make sure I have enough quilts to display. I also plan to sell some of my hand dyed fabrics so I know the time is going to fly between now and August.

We also had an idea of each doing a ‘memory’ piece to link our work, Deborah creating something from her memories of Borneo and myself from my memories of the UK where I grew up. These works are in progress, and for myself it makes an interesting change working on something inspired by the English countryside rather than the tropics.

You can see more of Deborah’s work on her blog, website and on her Facebook page “Quilt Routes from Deborah O’Hare”.

 

Isle of Wight landscapes

While I was at The Festival of Quilts last year I was impressed by the beautiful landscape quilts by Kathleen Matthews. I bought her book “Stitched Textile Landscapes” but it is only now, six months later that I have had a  go at trying out her techniques, and this is what I came up with, inspired by some photos taken on the Isle of Wight when I was back there a couple of years ago.

This is the place where I was born and grew up so it has many fond memories for me.

My inspiration photo and a selection of my hand dyed fabrics for the background. The pieces were first pinned and then stitched in place, quite a fiddly job with all the small pieces.

The background assembled and stitched in place. It looks quite plain at this stage although already you get the feeling of depth. The fun part comes with the free motion stitching which really brings the design to life.

I used mostly rayon threads for the free motion embroidery, but a few cotton and polyester threads too, depending on what colours I needed for the look I wanted.

I was really pleased with the way this turned out so I decided to try another one based on another Isle of Wight photo. This time the view from Forelands beach where I used to live, looking across to Whitecliff Bay and Culver Down. I used to look out on this every day and have always wanted to make something inspired by this view.

The first stages before the thread embellishment. I didn’t have any hand dyed fabric the right colour for the sea but found a piece of piece of cloth I painted years ago which was just perfect.

The finished piece. I think there might have to be a series of these as I’m really enjoying making them and I have heaps of photos for inspiration and it makes quite a nice change to be doing work inspired by a different location, although this technique would probably work for some of my rain forest designs too.

Seed Pod Reflected

I started work on a new appliqué quilt wall hanging in November and just got it finished last week.

This design is inspired by the seed pods of the Pom Pom tree that one can find washed up on the beach here in Brunei.

I originally worked on this theme as part of my City and Guilds “Creative Quiltmaking” course, and the quilt I made, which was one of my assessment pieces was actually pieced. Even at the time I was doing it I wanted to make it again as an appliqué piece using my now hand dyed fabrics. I used one of my sketches to create a design in EQ7, and the theme was to do with using a mirrored image, so this is what I came up with for my pieced quilt.I later modified this design so I could use it for appliqué. This is the initial design.I felt the fabric needed more texture, so I hand embroidered every appliqué piece before applying to the background.  I still felt the design lacked something as there was a high empty gap between the two halves of the design, so I used some of my leftover cut out pieces and experimented with placing them in the middle. 

This looked much better and to balance the design I added two more pieces top and bottom and two pieces to the outer edges which ave more of the feel of the curves of the original seed pod. Detail of stitching. 

I echo quilted using a fine thread. 

Iban Design Continued

Recently I’ve been experimenting with the back basting method for hand appliqué after buying the excellent book “Back-Basting Appliqué Step by Step by Barbara J. Eikmeier. I have found it to be very effective and accurate so inspired by my sample pieces I decided to get out my Iban Design project to work on again. This project has been languishing in my sewing box for a while. I thought it was only a year but when I went back to my blog post Iban Design I discovered that I actually started work on it in 2010!

As I’m working on a dark background I found the easiest way to transfer the markings to the back of the quilt is to use my original freezer paper templates and a transparent overlay to ensure correct placement.

I then used a fine white marker to trace round the templates.

Basted and ready to start appliqué.

Work in progress. Funny how cat hairs get everywhere!

“Tumbling Birds” – The finished quilt

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.

 

Jungle Leaves

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.

Birds and Flowers stitched

After many hours work I have finally finished machine stitching all the bird and flower applique. Here are a few photos showing some details.

I used mostly Aurfil 50wt thread for the applique as I wanted something subtle that wouldn’t stand out too much but blend with my hand dyed fabrics.

Detail of some of the flowers. The next step will be hand embroidery to add stems and detail to some of the leaves and the tail feathers.

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.