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.
I have recently completed several large projects and so felt like taking a break and working on something much smaller and quick to finish. I’d had the idea in my head for these bougainvillea flower inspired fabric postcards and had even made a quick sketch while I was working on something else so this was the perfect project to work on.
I started off with some hand painted ‘sky’ fabrics left over from other projects, then couched down several strands of hand dyed embellishment yarn. I used a free motion zigzag and invisible thread for the couching. I took some scraps of hand dyed and batik fabrics backed with ‘Misty Fuse’ to make the flowers and leaves.
I cut the fabric into tiny random snippets with sharp scissors. I’ve only recently started using Misty Fuse but so far I have found it very good to use as it is light weight, bonds well and doesn’t gum up the needle.
These were applied to the background stems using tweezers as the pieces were so tiny.
The leaves and flowers fused in place ready to be embellished with free motion stitching. I used several different shades of green rayon thread for the leaves and then several different pinks for the flowers. Bougainvilleas come in a wide range of colours here in Brunei apart from the standard bright pink that you mostly see across Europe, so it was a good opportunity to play with some of the fabrics I don’t tend to use so much and make a series of cards. Once all the stitching was complete I backed the cards with Fast 2 Fuse, trimmed to size and then zigzagged the edges using variegated thread.
My latest batch of fabric postcards were constructed on a crazy pieced background using lots of small pieces of batik fabrics that I had left over from other projects. I got the idea from a short instructional video that was on The Quilt Show recently. I’ve done a lot of crazy patchwork type blocks using foundation piecing printed out from EQ6 and used them as backgrounds for some of my rain forest quilts.
I liked the method shown on the video because it is done in the more traditional way using a piece of fabric for the background. The background will be completely covered by the crazy piecing so it doesn’t matter what it looks like. I used some scraps of muslin for these cards. It’s a great way of using up fabric scraps and because you’re not using a preprinted foundation every block is different.
Embellished fabric postcard
These fabric postcards are also a great way of experimenting with various embellishments. I’ve collected quite a few yarns over the years and am not always sure how best to use them, so I just played around with a few here.
gold threads and decorative machine stitches
On this card I even tried out a few of my machine’s decorative stitches using gold thread and then couched some thicker gold thread in random squiggles. All the leaves were made using sheer organza and variegated rayon threads. These will the last lot of fabric postcards I’ll be making for a while as I’ve now run out of the Fast2fuse iron on interfacing that I’ve been using to make them nice and firm. I’ll order more for the new year and I’m sure I’ll have loads of ideas for more cards by then.
I made some more fabric postcards last week and this time I chose plam trees as my theme as I wanted to practice my free motion embroidery and also I had some more of my hand painted fabric scraps that I wanted to use.
To make the palm tree I first drew out the basic shape on a piece of water soluble stabilizer and then assembled a sandwich consisting of a layer of water soluble stabilzer on the bottom, a piece of fine tulle and then another layer of stabilizer on top with the image drawn on it. I used a fine polyester thread in the bobbin and then a thicker thread in the needle with a free motion foot and the feed dogs down. I sketched a basic outline first and then went back filling in the detail and using different threads for detail in the palm fronds and trunk.
I used the same method for the palm tree above but just using black threads for the sunset silhuette. These cards are such a good way of using various bits of leftover fabric. This is from a piece I painted some time ago and didn’t really like but it works well in this small design.
For the third card I stitched directly onto the fabric using stabilizer and a hoop but this one didn’t turn out so well because there was a bit of puckering around the edges of the palm fronds.
I was going to discard it, but then I wondered what would happen if I quilted it, no harm in practising some free motion quilting. I layered it up with some thin batting and using invisible thread I did some fairly fine stippling in the sky area and I was pleased to find that all the puckering disappeared.
I have been working fairly intensively on various projects over the last few months but am now between major projects, and while I decide what to do next I thought I would try my hand at making some fabric postcards. It is another of those things that I have wanted to try for ages but wasn’t quite sure how to go get started. I bought a book by Francis Kohler called “Fast, Fun and Easy Fabric Postcards”, got some Fast2Fuse interfacing and I was all set to go.
For my first postcards I used some free motion embroidered leaves on organza which I had left over from another project. I stitched these to some batik fabric which I then backed with some ordinary stabilizer and decorated with free motion stitching. I then removed most of the stabilizer and fused the design to the Fast2Fuse and a backing fabric, then cut to the correct size. I used a satin stitch with variegated thread to go round the edges.
The next cards I did, were made using some fabric that I had hand painted and then made into an experimental seascape with rocks, spray and waves.
The Fast2Fuse is quite thick, but I found that using a number 12 topstitch needle I had no problems going round the edges with two rows of close zig zag.
For the next two cards I used some left over Mickey Lawler Skydyes fabric and added some daisies using raw edge applique and a bit of free motion embroidery. For these cards I added some lightweight batting and quilted them before adding the interfacing and backing.
For the last postcards I used up another experimental project. This time a collage of purple flowers and leaves which I cut without using any pattern and then embellished with couched yarn. These cards were also quilted before fusing to the stabilizer.
These cards are great fun to make and I can see why many people say that they find them addictive to do. They are relatively quick to complete, a good way of using up left over bits and pieces from other projects, and also an excellent way of trying out new techniques.