Silk Quilt – Just About Done

I had to take a break from hand stitching the hidden binding on the back. I’ve got it half done, I’ll finish the task later this evening. (My hand stitching isn’t fully back to where it was before my thumb decided to stop working, but I can control the needle much better than I could before the carpel tunnel surgery!).
I had intended doing a pillowcase backing but the backing silk fabric just would not stay flat and in place, so in the end I began the quilting starting in the centre and worked outward toward the sides, doing my best to keep the silk backing from sliding around. I tried pinning the quilt sandwich but couldn’t get the backing layer to lay flat so in the end I removed all the safety pins, just pinned the top and one side edge and then did my best to keep smoothing the backing as I stitched each quilting seam. A much more difficult task than I had expected. To get the unbound look I was after on the finished quilt, I did a hidden binding using some bronze embroidered silk fabric that came with the other two pieces, so it matched. I considered machine stitching the binding in place, but I like this unbound look with the quilting stitching coming to the very edges.

Silk Quilt – Top

When the quilting was finished the back wasn’t too bad, Still a bit of fullness in spots, but when steam pressed again it will be reasonably flat. And I like the embroidery in the fabric – it provides a bit of visual interest.

Silk Quilt – Back With Hidden Binding

Just two sides left to hand stitch – the label is already sewn in place.
The finished quilt is smallish when compared to most of my other quilts – similar width but shorter (my lap quilts are usually about 5 1/2′ long – this quilt is 55″). It’s still long enough to cover a person (maybe a shortish one), but it would make a nice hanging for a hallway, or bedroom.

Silk Quilt – Top Finished

Many years ago, I was looking after the UNICEF booth at one of our local Christmas Craft Fairs. Across from me was a quilter with a gorgeous silk quilt for sale. She’d collected silk ties and had cut bowtie shapes from the silk she salvaged. I loved it and wished I could have afforded it – but it was too large to be wall hanging and too delicate to use regularly on a bed. I admired it every day I sat there selling greeting cards.

I never forgot it and when a friend gave me a bundle of silk fabric she’d purchased in Singapore and which she had decided she’d never use, I thought, a silk quilt. I decided the bronze silk dupioni would make a lovely quilt background. I ordered a dozen silk fat quarters from Etsy a couple of years ago in colours to complement the bronze.

I wanted to do something modern and decided to mix some small piecing of the coloured silks to form strips on the diagonal and solid strips.

Silk Quilt

Finally finished piecing the top this afternoon. The central panel is offset to the top and left. The finished quilt size: 51″ x 56″. I had wanted to make it more rectangular but I just didn’t have enough bronze silk. I have a few small scraps but in order to keep the grain of the silk running top to bottom I had to piece the top and bottom strips so my size was limited by the amount of silk I could cobble together.

Tomorrow I’ll set up the quilt sandwich. I’m using a second of the pieces of silk fabric. I have enough for the backing, but I will have to piece it horizontally because it isn’t wide enough to do a single running length and I haven’t enough silk left to create a pieced strip. Besides the embroidery in the golden silk is enough detail and I will be careful to cut it between the embroidery designs so the seam, when pressed open, will be relatively unseen.

Embroidered Silk Backing Fabric

I really see this as a largish wall hanging rather than a lap quilt. If I’d had enough bronze silk, I’d have finished the quilt with a narrow binding, but because I don’t I’m going to finish the quilt using a “pillowcase” turn. I plan on quilting it stitching in the ditch from top to bottom and adding some more vertical lines where necessary in the border areas.

First Swim – Revisited

It turns out my efforts to represent the shading of the child’s body with layers of differently colored fabric was misconstrued and interpreted as “clothes” by the majority of people who viewed the piece. Very few spontaneously saw him as naked. This was because the contrast between the lights and darks was too great – an artifact of the limited pallet of flesh-toned shades of fabric I was able to assemble.

Original Piece


So I darkened the ligher elements with crayon and wax pastels and stabilized the shading using a hot iron which melts the applied surface wax into the fabric. Now the child is seen as naked. 

Child Darkened

I’m much happier now with how people are responding.

First Swim – Completed

Here it is – just done:

First Swim

It always amazes me how much finish work goes into one of these pieces – inner border, wide mitred outer border, backing, hidden binding, hanging sleeve. And a lot of it is hand sewing – I’m getting better at hand sewing, but it’s still awkward; I’m having trouble pulling the needle through with my thumb and first finger, especially if I’m trying to get through multiple layers of fabric!

Now to put the art quilting aside for a while and on to making pants.

First Swim

I did a bit of thread painting on the background of this piece yesterday during the Art Quilt Class – I wanted to demonstrate how I double up the rayon thread and use both in a single needle, how I stitch the raw edges using a very narrow blanket stitch, how I freely sew flow lines in the background.

First Swim

Today, I finished up the background by adding a bit more dark fabric to the water and doing quite a lot of stitching for detail (the thread actually becomes lighter the farther from the foreground it is). As well I did some dense stitching along the water edge to suggest foam. I left the darker edge of wet sand clear of stitching because that sand is always packed densely while it’s still wet. The stitching in the sand is intentionally more random to hint at the irregular detail from many footprints.

For the moment Charlie is still a piece of paper. Tomorrow I’m going to work on creating him from 4-6 layers of flesh-toned fabrics from very l light on his right shoulder to very dark at his bum and the backs of his lower legs.

I added my signature while I was working at the machine rather than struggle to add it later. I do the embroidery using the metal hoop which allows me to just place the art piece flat and hold it in place with magnets instead of trying to force it into a double pieced hoop – much easier to position the fabric.

I’m still not sure whether I’ll border this piece or not or whether I’ll use a hidden binding – I’ll see how I feel when the child is assembled and added. Finished dimensions will be approximately 12″ x 10″.

First Swim with Child

OK, so I didn’t wait until tomorrow – I pieced the child this evening. Didn’t turn out badly at all. Now to edge stitch all the pieces – slowly and carefully.

Dots – Completed

Dots – Completed

Having given the piece a name, I realized the majority of the fabrics I used to construct the piece had dots in them! So to take the idea further, I appliquéd more dots of various sizes to add further detail to the piece, and stitched around the outside edge with rayon embroidery thread using a narrow blanket stitch. Although difficult to see, the 1/4″ binding is also a dotted fabric. Finished size: 12.5″ x 17″.

Portrait

Another demonstration: a pieced portrait.

I started with an image of a face, printed it in black and white, outlined the colour boundaries, pulled all the beige tone fabrics from the stash I could find (large pieces and scraps), created templates for the large areas using baking parchment paper, cut them out, then created templates for the smaller areas, and cut those out.

What I didn’t do here, but should have, was to apply fusible web to the fabric before cutting it – instead, I’ll use a glue stick to adhere the cut out pieces to the background.

I was mainly playing around to see if what I ended up with resembled a face in any way and it does. Once I’ve glued the pieces down, I’ll probably do a bit of edge stitching to hold the thing together.