First attempts at fabric design

Driftwood cushion

I am between quilting projects at the moment so while waiting for inspiration I have been having a go at designing my own fabrics and was excited to receive the first samples of my work last week from Spoonflower. I was really happy with how they turned out. They were even better than I was expecting because being my first attempt at creating repeat patterns it took quite a lot of trial and error to get the designs as I wanted them but I enjoyed the process and can’t wait to try some more ideas.

fabric samples from Spoonflower

I have used my quilt designs, drawings and photographs for inspiration for the fabrics. The gecko fabric is from one of my appliqué designs, and the flowers from drawings and watercolour sketches of periwinkle flowers that grow in our garden.

Inspiration for my periwinkle designs

The Driftwood fabric started off as a photo that I took of some driftwood on the local beach and then the image was mirrored and then mirrored again so that I could use it for a repeat design. I made this up into a cushion and I think it would look really great with outdoor furniture or very elegant on a plain cream, burgundy or back sofa or arm chair.

Driftwood cushion on chair

 

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

 

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.

 

 

 

West of Ireland

I’m afraid it has been a long time since I last updated my blog; life has been busy and once you get out of the routine of writing it is hard to get going again. I am just back from a trip to the UK and west of Ireland, where I went to the International Quilt Festival in Galway. The festival itself was a bit of a disappointment for one reason and another but I really enjoyed visiting Ireland again after so many years away. I decided to stay in a bed and breakfast just outside Galway rather than a big hotel and so glad I did. Beautiful views from across the road and braving the cold weather, a pleasant walk into the coastal town of Salthill.

One of the highlights of my trip was the Burren where I went as part of a photography workshop. I had been there many years ago back in the days when we only had film cameras. I remember running out of film and of course there being nowhere for miles and miles where you could buy more but I did get some impressive black and white shots and I’ve always wanted to go back there.

The Burren

From a distance, as you approach, it looks like a barren landscape studded with giant boulders (although the boulders are actually a lot smaller than I remember them) where nothing would grow.

 This is a false impression because as soon as you get down amongst the rocks there is an abundance of vegetation, and a wonderful array of wild flowers peeping out from amongst the cracks and crevices: honeysuckle, wild roses, orchids and many others which I couldn’t name.

Honeysuckle growing wild amongst the crevices.

A delicate purple orchid, and there was another white one growing quite close by. I don’t know what varieties they were but it would have been good to have had a book on all the wild flowers.

I’m sure I will be finding inspiration for future quilts from the photos I took, not just the flowers and vegetation but also the intriguing patterns of the rocks themselves, and also the beautiful Irish countryside.

 

 

 

More fabric postcards

Bougainvillea series - fabric postcardI 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.

Batik inspired birds and flowers

A little while ago I got this piece of applique out to show some friends and I was suddenly inspired to get it finished. I actually started work on this design five years ago and have taken it out form time to time to do a little bit more.

The original design was inspired by a piece of Indonesian commercial printed batik sarong fabric  that I bought locally here in Brunei. I’d originally planned to use it for patchwork but I felt that the design was too nice to cut up but it took me a long time before I finally made it into an applique pattern.

The original piece of batik from which I made the pattern

Once I’d made the pattern the challenge was to choose the colours that I would use for the applique as I didn’t want to use the rather dull brown, black and white of the original. I chose a dark blue, almost black mottled hand dyed batik fabric for the background and pale pastel colours for the flowers, stems and leaves.

Detail of one of the applique flowers

One of the main reasons I stopped working on this design is that after completing most of the flowers I couldn’t decide what colour to make the two birds and how to assemble them. At that time my stash wasn’t as big as it is now and also I wasn’t too confident about putting the birds together. When I took it this recent time it was much easier to make a decision and I had several chestnut brown batiks that I felt would be perfect for the birds. I also had a book by Jane Townswick called ‘Applique Takes Wing’  which was very helpful for showing how to assemble the birds.

The tail feathers and wings were quite a challenge.

The two birds amongst the flowers

And finally the completed design just waiting to be quilted.

Flowers after rain

Looking for new design inspirations I took my camera out into the garden this morning.

white allamandas against an early morning sky

white allamandas against an early morning sky

It was still a little overcast after a predawn shower and the flowers and plants were wet from the rain.

Heliconia flower

Heliconia flower

The garden isn’t looking at its best at the moment as I have been too busy quilting lately to devote as much time to it as I should. Everything grows so quickly in this climate and the garden can very quickly get out of hand. Perfect for small cats to play hide and seek in!

No one can see me here if I keep very still

No one can see me here if I keep very still

The bougainvilleas also grow into huge shrubs here, and are in constant need of pruning.

11 13 09_cats and flowers_1154

Of course, Millie isn’t the least bit interested in gardening and thinks it is a complete waste of time as long as she has somewhere comfortable where she can lounge and keep an eye on things.

Millie looking contented with life

Millie looking contented with life

 Madagascar periwinkles grow almost like weeds and crop up all over the garden, but they are pretty and add a bright splash of colour wherever they turn up. I have used them for inspiration for both a cross stitch design and a small quilt, so maybe it is time for another one.

Madagascar Periwinkles

Madagascar Periwinkles

I have yet to make a quilt featuring a Bird’s Nest Fern, but we have a beautiful specimen in the garden, and the best thing now is that the spores have been carried on the wind and we have new ones cropping up all over  the place. I love the delicate curves of the new leaves as they unfurl.

Birds Nest Fern

Birds Nest Fern

My favourite colour is green and I love using it  in my quilts. I have a large selection of fabrics in every possible shade of green and I’m working on my thread collection so here is yet another possiblity for a new design.

A pretty pair of toads

A pretty pair of toads

These toads were taking an early morning bath, but nice as they are, I’m not planning to put these into a quilt, unless of course, someone specially requested it. Frogs are very popular, and I have sold a large number of my tree frog wall hangings but I don’t think toads have quite the same appeal.

Well, that’s all for now. I think I have given myself some new ideas to think about once I have done my final craft show tomorrow.

Frangipani wall hanging

I was recently commissioned by a friend to make a floral design wall hanging in neutral colours and the idea appealed to me. For the flower I chose a single frangipani adapted from a design that I had drawn out in EQ6 some time ago and inspired by a photo I’d taken of flowers in our garden.

The picture above shows the design as drawn out in EQ6. I then went through my pile of pale fabrics to chose the colours I needed to make the frangipani petals and stems.

Batik fabrics for the petals and stems along with my original photo. I printed the design out in reverse onto freezer paper and then used this to make templates for the design. I ironed the freezer paper templates onto the wrong side of the fabrics and then using a scant quarter inch seam I turned the edges over to the wrong side and stuck in place using a glue stick.

The picture above shows the pieces with edges turned under and glued in place then positioned over a full sized print out of the design to get correct placement. I used invisible machine applique to stitch the design together, assembling the small pieces before stitching the whole flower to the background. I auditioned a number of different fabrics for the background and borders and finally came up with a combination that I liked. The fabric for the borders was a batik I’d ordered over the Internet a few years ago and hadn’t used as it wasn’t quite what I’d been expecting at the time.

The completed design.

Close up of the flower.

I was happy with the way this turned out so decided to make another wall hanging using similar fabrics for the flower but a hand painted back ground which I had made recently.

I haven’t done any fabric painting for a while but I was prompted to do it as I had to paint a ‘sunset sky’ for another wall hanging that I was making and while I had all the paints out I thought I might as well do a few others.

Close up of the frangipani on blue background. I achieved the mottled look by using a sponge to paint the background.

Detail of the quilting in the border. I used a lovely variegated polyester thread  I had which went just perfectly with the mottled batik fabric.