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

Forest Giant revisited

It doesn’t seem like like I’ve been back in Brunei a week already. In some ways it feels like I’ve been back longer, and the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham feels like an age away. Having my own stand there for the first time was a great experience, and I really enjoyed meeting and chatting to so many lovely people from all over the world, as well as catching up with a few ‘old’ friends. Thanks to everybody who came by, it was really a pleasure talking to you all. Lots of people wanted patterns so that’s something I’m going to work on for the future.

One of the wall hangings that many people commented on was my “Forest Giant”, a new version of  apiece I first made several years ago. A lot of people were interested to know how I made it so here it is again with some pictures showing the various stages.

I started off with a piece of my hand dyed fabric for the background, then added a few strips of fabric for tree trunks and then the main tree.
When I made this design before I used a single piece of fabric for the base of the forest floor but this time I decided to add various hand dyed strips to give more variety.
Then began the very time consuming process of adding all the leaves. I used lots of different scraps of fabric to give depth to the design. I backed each scrap with fusible webbing, the cut leaf shapes. Each leaf was then added individually. I would do a batch then fuse in place a few at a time …… not a good time to sneeze or have one of the cats walk over my design board!
I continued in this way until the background was covered as much as I wanted it. Then it was time for the final details and free motion stitching to complete the piece. I used a large number of different threads to achieve the look I wanted.

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.

Forest Waterfall

A few weeks a go I started work on a new rain forest waterfall design. I first drew out the basic background design onto nonwoven stabilizer and then gathered together my selection of fabrics for the background forest, rocks, pool and and sandy foreground, mostly batiks and hand dyes.

I started with the lighter background area behind the waterfall. Before starting work on the main quilt I made a small experimental post card sized piece to try out the technique I wanted to use.

Once all the pieces were fused in place, I added free motion stitching to give greater depth and create the impression of foliage. I then started to build up the layers of rock using invisible machine applique.

Of course, as usual I had my feline ‘helper’ making stitching a little difficult at times.

 

With the background now completed it is time for the fun part….adding all the details and embellishments. So far I have started adding a few snippets to give the effect of foliage in the areas surrounding the waterfall. These have been fused in place and then once I am happy with  the arrangement I will add free motion stitching and some couched yarns.

For the waterfall I used some fine tulle which I shaped into folds to give the impression of flowing water and held in place with a free motion zig zag stitch and invisible thread then further free motion stitching and rayon thread. Behind the tulle I added a layer of angelina fibres to add a bit of sparkle.

The waterfall before being stitched down. I will next start to add rocks and foliage to the foreground.

African Skies – continued

Over the last week I have continued working on my African sunset project. Having painted the skies for the background then fused a black hand dyed batik for the foreground it was time to add the details with thread painting.

I wanted the stitching to be quite fine so I used Aurifil 50wt cotton thread in both the bobbin and needle so that I could build up detail without adding too much bulk. For the large tree in one of the sunsets I needed to use an embroidery hoop to stop the fabric distorting, but I found this wasn’t necessary for the smaller trees.

The completed thread painted tree.

I planned to use a black batik border for each design but first needed to find something suitable for an accent. Going through my stash I found a perfect batik print which picked up the light purple in the sunsets as well as some of the orange.

These are the sunsets with the borders added.

 

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.

More fabric postcards

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.

palm-on-beach

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.

sunset-palm-1

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.

puckered-palm

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.sunset-palm-quilted

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.

Leaf rubbings completed

Last month I wrote about the leaf rubbings I made using some dried leaves I’d collected in the jungle and paintstiks.You can see the post under “Paintstcks leaf rubbings”. I embellished the leaves with a blend of rayon and metallic threads then fused them to a black batik background and there they sat waiting to be finished until a few days ago.

I was going through my stash of browns and autumnal colours looking for fabric to complete another project when one of the batiks caught my eye and I thought it would be just right for my leaves. I just added a simple border as I felt the design didn’t need anything else.

 

completed-jungle-leaves

The colours of the border fabric compliment the colours I have used in the leaves. I quilted in the background using a fine black 50wt cotton thread and because there is no quilting on the leaves they stand out well from the background. I used a thicker variegated cotton 40wt thread in the borders.

Detail of the leaf rubbing and quilted background

Detail of the leaf rubbing and quilted background

Butterfly finished

In my last post I described how I created the pattern and started putting together my butterfly and flower design. Now, with all the pieces for the butterfly and flower fused to the background I added some thread painting with 40wt rayon threads which added a nice sheen and a little more texture.

Close up showing thread painting on the flower and butterfly

Close up showing thread painting on the flower and butterfly

 I did all the embellishment before adding batting and backing because I wanted the butterfly to stand out from the background. These photos show the design with the quilting completed because the original photos I took didn’t come out very well thanks to a nice smeary finger print across the lens of my camera.

thread painitng on the butterfly and flower

thread painitng on the butterfly and flower

So once this was complete I sandwiched it all together and then began the quilting. I didn’t want the quilting in the background to stand out and draw attention away from the butterfly so I used a fine 50wt cotton thread which blended well into the hand dyed fabric which I used for the background. For the borders I used a thicker variegated thread and a trailing leaf pattern.

The finished wall hanging

The finished wall hanging