Fabric Postcards

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.

autumn-leaves

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. 

seascapesThe 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.

2009-10-09_0552

2009-10-09_0551

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.

purple-flowers

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.

Butterfly on Flower – work in progress

For a long time I have wanted to do something with a photo that I took in Thailand of a butterfly on a flower. Originally I had thought of creating a cross stitch design but never got very far with it, and then just recently I decided I would make it into an art quilt. I scanned the photo into the computer and imported it into EQ6 where I made it into an appliqué pattern.

eq6-butterfly

The pattern drawn out in EQ6

With the pattern made, my next decision was how I was going to create the design. ? My preference would have been to do it by hand or to use invisible machine appliqué, but because I had chosen to make it quite small, 12 inches by 15 inches, some of the pieces were really tiny. It might just have been possible to do it by hand, but in the end I opted to use fusible webbing and raw edge appliqué, embellished with machine thread painting.  

butterfly-wing-1

making the first butterfly wing

Fabrics and threads play such an important part in a design and for this one I had a lovely piece of hand dyed fabric which I had bought from Foltvilág Patchwork Studio at The Festival of Quilts which I knew straight away would be perfect for the background.  I didn’t even buy it with this project in mind as I’m always drawn to greens as I use them in so many of my pieces but I’m so glad I did as looking through the rest of my stash I would have had a struggle to find something that was as good. For the butterfly wings and flower I used mostly commercial batiks although again for the actual base of the wing I used another hand dyed fabric from the quilt festival which had good gradations from brown to black which again were just perfect for what I wanted.

work-in-progress

assembling the butterfly wings and flower

It took me several days to put the whole thing together and the cats didn’t help today by lounging all over my cutting table, or propping themselves up against the sewing machine.

two-assistants

Millie keeping an eye on things

Millie keeping an eye on things

Yesterday afternoon I finally finished assembling all the pieces of the design and then my next decision was how to embellish it. Whether to do the thread painting before I added the batting or after?  In the end I decided to do the thread painting first, with a stabilizer underneath as I am more familiar with that method. This method also has several advantages. The piece can be trimmed and squared up after the stitching and also it gives me a bit longer to think while I’m stitching, about what fabrics I’ll use for the outer borders.

The completed design ready for thread painting and embellishment

The completed design ready for thread painting and embellishment

 

Heliconia flower

With the rain forest quilt finished I felt ready to start on a new project and I decided I would do a flower design this time. Several years ago I made a small sample block of a heliconia, or bird of paradise flower, using a method called upside down applique where you stitch the pieces in postion from the wrong side of the fabric (hence the upside down) and then stitch on the right side using a free motion zig zag stitch. The method works well but for this design I didn’t like the obvious stitching round the outline and felt it was too clumsy for the delicate flower. 

I redrew the design in EQ6 so that I could make an applique pattern.The original design was square but because of the shape of the flower and the long stems and leaves I thought an elongated block would look better.

The next task was to choose the fabrics to make the flower and leaves. Origianlly I got out all my various orange fabrics, but I also had a  striped batik with shades of brown, orange and yellow and I was surprised to find this was the best match for the flower.

Choosing the fabrics for the leaves and background, a nice selection of greens.

When I first drew out the design I liked the idea of the flower against a dark background but because I chose a slightly dull shade of orange for the flower this didn’t look right. After spending a long time going through my various fabrics I came up with two possible combinations, either a graduated green or a bright blue green batik.

The blue has a nice contemporary feel, but I wondered if perhaps it was a little too bright.

I liked the green better, so decided to use this one for the background. The fabric was graduated from dark green at the bottom to a yellow green at the top. I didn’t want the bright yellow green but then because of the size of the background piece the lower part of the design was a bit dark and I felt that the leaves became lost. In the photograph above I have the graduation running across the fabric instead of up and down and I suppose I could have done that but I decided to look again for another fabric. I found a beautiful blue grey batik which I have had for quite a long time and I felt immediately that this one was right.

Here the design is just pinned in place but reading for stitching using invisible machine applique.