Fan Palms

I have just started work on a new series of  small wall hangings inspired by the fan palms in the Borneo rain forest. It’s been a while since I started a completely new project but this is one I have been thinking about doing for a while now and I finally got started after a recent trip to the forest.

fan palms Lambir

Unfortunately our walk was cut short by a big thunderstorm but not before I had taken plenty of fan palm photos, I then took one of these and made a number of crops so I can experiment with different views of the same design. I drew out my patterns in EQ7 because I want to later scale up any of the designs I particularly like.

I started off with making some freezer paper stencils and getting my old Painstiks out to make the background palm fronds.

stencils and paintstiks

I then traced the design of the palm frond onto fusible web and applied that to some hand dyed fabric. Have chosen to use raw edge appliqué for these small quilts because there are a lot of very narrow inside curves, so I layered up the top with batting and backing then stitched round all the edges of the palm fronds using a matching thread. I then used a darker thread to stitch all the ridges in the leaves.

fused shape applied over background stencil

Before doing this the design had looked very flat, but stitching in all the lines brings the design to life and gives it texture.

IMG_2169

Finally I used a dark variegated thread to make lines of dense echo quilting in the background which again helps to make the palm frond stand out.

Fan Palm square crop

Fan Palm, the square crop.

Fan Palm fronds over stencilled background.

Fan Palm fronds over stencilled background.

Flying Home

It has been an awful long time since I updated my blog but one of my new year’s resolutions for 2016 is to try and write more regularly, so here goes with my first post for 2016.

I recently tried out a new technique using up scraps of leftover hand dyed fabrics. They were just thin strips which I would normally have thrown away. I laid them out and fused them onto a piece of backing fabric. As the fabric scraps I had were oranges, golds and reds I created a sunset sky and then as I liked the effect I added dark blues for sea.

narrow fabric strips laid out on background

Like this there were a lot of raw edges exposed so next came the fun part. I got out a selection of various threads: rayon, polyester, cotton, some plain some variegated and of different weights too and free motion stitched across the surface. The stitching helps to blend the colours.

free motion stitching on background using a variety of threads The scene needed something else so I added the silhouette of an egret which I’d photographed on the beach a few weeks ago and created a pattern using #EQ7.

silhouette of egret on stitched background Finally a layer of batting and backing and more free motion stitching and a narrow binding to finish off the project.

Egret flying home across the south China sea

Flying Home

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.

 

Foundation Piecing a crazy patchwork block

In my last post I wrote about the piece I made for my Janome challenge group. This month it is my turn to lead the challenge and following on from last month’s project which was to create a stitch out of all our machine’s decorative stitches I am asking people to make a foundation pieced crazy patchwork block and then embellish it with decorative machine stitches. For those of you who are unfamiliar with foundation piecing I am providing a short tutorial. There are many different ways of doing foundation piecing but this is the method I find that works for me.

The completed block:

To start I took a block from EQ7 printed out the pattern on lightweight paper. I use Carol Doak’s Foundation Paper sheets, but there are other products available and it is even possible to use ordinary copy paper, just a little harder to tear out at the end. One tip is to use smaller machine stitches and a slightly larger machine needle.

I take my first piece of fabric and cut it approximately to size, making sure there is at least a quarter inch overlapping all seam lines. This is placed right side up on the unprinted side of the paper.

First fabric patch, right side up on unprinted side of paper.

You can hold the paper up to the light to make sure all the seam lines are covered. I pin this in place, and then working from the printed side of the paper I take a piece of card (a postcard is ideal) and fold back the paper along the seamline where patch one meets patch two.

Place card along the seam between patch 1 and 2

I then take my ruler and trim the exposed fabric to a quarter of an inch.

Next I get my fabric for patch two and again trim it to the approximate size, lay it right side down on top of the first piece of fabric, matching the trimmed seam, making sure there is a generous overlap on all seams. This is the tricky bit because you need to make sure that when you stitch the seam and flip the fabric back all the lines are still covered.

Stitch along the line between patch 1 and 2, starting and stopping your stitching a few stitches either side of the line.

Stitch along the line between patch 1 and 2 then flip the block over and press. I like to press each seam as I stitch it. Remember not to use steam though as it can distort your paper.

Next, use your piece of card, fold back the paper along your next stitching line which will be for block 3. Trim your fabric and lay on your patch 3. Continue doing this for all the patches until your block is complete.

laying on patch #3

I made four 6 inch blocks like this and then joined them all together, backed them with some Pellon fusible fleece and had a bit of fun embellishing them my machine’s decoartive stitches.

The finished block

 

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.