Peony

With the Peony, I’m playing around with Danny Amazonas’ fused appliqué technique – a collage of small pieces of fabric fused on top of one another to create depth and detail for both the background and the main subject.

I began by preparing 20″ x 26″ pieces of muslin and batting and sewing them together along the 9″ x 12″ dimensions in the center of the quilt – this marked my outside boundary. Then I pencilled in the approximate location for the focal element – the peony. That gives me an inner boundary for the background appliqué collage.

Backing Prepared

One of the things I’ve learned from looking carefully at Amazonas’ textile art is the background is livelier when there’s visible small pattern elements in the fabrics. The overall effect is a shaded dark support for the focus element which sets up the contrast for the finished art work.

I cut pieces from the fabrics I’d collected and auditioned them to see how I might establish a colour flow within the background.

Auditioning Fabrics For The Background

I applied “wonder-under,” a paperbacked fusible web to my complementary and contrasting pieces of background fabric. Then I cut small pieces from each and arranged them filling the space from outer to inner boundary.

Background Fused In Place

At this point, the background looks lighter in overall tone than it will once the light fabrics are added in the center to create the very pale pink flower. If the background still seems too light when the peony is added, I will apply a wash using acrylic paint to tone down the brighter colours.

As far as I can tell, Amazonas doesn’t sew on top of his constructions. My plan is to do the same in this demonstration piece. However, when it’s assembled I may feel it wants more detail and add some thread painting. I’ll have to see how it turns out.

That’s it for today.

Rudebeckia II

I’ve been working away at the Rudebeckia piece all this week. Tons of decisions to make, this fabric or that, cut using a traced template or free cut, where to position the elements, how much detail to use in the background, what colour thread…. Every decision is a final one as well – there isn’t much that can be undone as the work grows. It’s how it is.

Here I’ve partially stitched “leaves” in the background (I’ll finish that stitching when I’ve done the thread painting on the flowers). The central flower is all assembled and fused in place as are the other two flowers.

Applique Fused, Partially Stitched

And then the thread painting began. I started in the middle of the main flower and worked my way out from dark thread to the light. I worked at my machine for a couple of hours each day until I finished the detail stitching this afternoon.

Here is the back of finished piece – you can see how much stitching it required to complete the work.

Thread Painting From Back

Final decision – the piece is a work of art, it needs a signature and date. I set up an embroidery on my computer, transferred it to my embroidery machine and used my metal hoop (which uses magnets to hold the fabric in place). I carefully measured where I wanted my signature to go, then holding my breath hit the embroider button. It came out fine.

This is the finished piece (I still have to hand stitch the invisible binding in place which I’ll do this evening). Final dimensions: 9″ x 12″ – it’s a small piece but a lot of work.

Rudebeckia Completed

That’s one piece completed and three more to go before June 6.

Rudebeckia

Rudebeckia

I’ve started this appliqué piece from a photo of a large textile art piece by Kate Themel. Mine is going to be small – finished size ~ 9″ 12″. I’m doing it as one of several examples of textile art for a class I’m teaching in June. I decided to use this image because it’s obvious where the colour demarkations are – they are often hard to see when you’re not used to looking at photos for that detail. To emphasize the colour layers I often print my photos (or enlarged photo elements) in black and white so I can distinguish contrasting tones. I will do that in another of the examples to illustrate how that is done.

Here, I began by tracing the main image areas thinking about the fabric layers I’d need. Then I pulled lots of scraps from my stash in the range of colours I wanted to use, making sure I had lots of contrast.

Rudebeckia 1

Next I set up my working background – a piece of muslin 20″ x 26″ (much larger than the finished art piece just in case I might want to add borders, binding…) backed with Warm ‘n Natural batting. I marked both the horizontal and vertical centres, then marked the dimensions for my finished piece, and stitched along those lines. Although the piece has to built from the background up, I focused on the main flower to begin with, cutting out the petals and the darkest accent from templates I created from the photo.

Rudebeckia 2

Next I added a dark background, fused and stitched it in place. I’ve done some dark leaf cutouts which will be fused in position later. At the moment I’m building up the layers of each petal of the main flower – four to go (I’ve kept each template pinned to the fabric so I know where the petals go later when it’s time to fuse the flower in place). I’ve also chosen fabrics for two background flowers which will be darker, less prominent, than the central one.

Before I can add the main flower, however, I have to thread paint the dark background to suggest foliage, then add the background flowers and thread paint them, add leaves and thread paint them, and finally the main black-eyed susan.

The next small example will be based on Peony by Danny Amazonas:

Peony

I’ve chosen this example to illustrate his fused appliqué without thread painting. Again, Amazonas’ piece is quite large, mine will end up a similar size to Rudebeckia – 9″ x 12″, so I won’t be able to include quite as much detail as Amazonas but I will be able to show the building up of the image from background to central focal point.

The example after that will be based on a photo I took a number of years ago:

Fence

This piece will illustrate how to create the effect of light by setting up extreme contrasts – the fence rails will be done using off-white fabric, heavily stitched with both blending and contrasting  thread to suggest the shadows. Also I will construct the background at the top of the image using pale fabrics but cover  it with one or more layers of pale grey silk organza to suggest the fog and the foreground will require a LOT of thread painting over carefully fussy-cut layers of fabric.

Watching the World

My fourth example may well be based on this photo (with boys positioned to the right rather than the left) to illustrate incorporating photo elements printed on fabric into a textile art piece.

I’ve got my work cut out for me for the next month!

San Francisco 6

The sewing retreat ended around noon today. People who live closer to the west coast have already departed the city. I couldn’t make connections all the way to the Canadian east coast work so I don’t leave till 8:10 tomorrow morning. 

Had lunch with another gal who has to spend the night here, then we went fabric shopping. Linda wanted to purchase some, I was happy to tag along. 


Britex does have some lovely if expensive fabric. A week ago I saw this silk panel that reminded me of the paintings of Gustav Klimpt – the colors and detail are simply gorgeous. Each 60″x60″ panel was priced at $125. I thought it stunning but couldn’t think what I’d make with it – my present life style is more LandsEnd than Tiffany. So I walked away. I was hoping when I returned today it might have sold – nope, it was still there. Again, I looked at it but in the end I walked away – I had no idea what I would want to add to my wardrobe.

I stopped on the third floor to look at the petersham (a softer, more pliable version of grosgrain). I was expecting a few colours – I thought I’d pick up a yard of a couple – forget that! The adjacent shelves held rows of shades from white through grey and beige to black. With no specific project in mind it was impossible to choose any.  I left Britex empty handed this time which is just as well since there is no room in my suitcase for one more item.

I love this window display. It caught my attention two years ago. It’s still there. It’s a clothing store next door to Britex. There are garments in a window further along but three of the windows are filled floor to ceiling with these antique machines. Wonder where they’ve found so many.

I can’t imagine walking in anything like these shoes;

Or these.


The Apple Store is wide open to the street on this sunny afternoon. The Apple people in their green jerseys are just waiting there to help you. I had no questions or concerns today so we walked on by. I wonder whether there are any other Apple stores so easily accessible.

I have had a great week, the women were all experienced sewers, all were deeply involved in learning more about fitting and sewing technique. Sandra Betzina is a whiz at fitting. I followed her most of the morning just watching as she spotted adjustments that people could make to their garment muslins then grab a pen and make the corresponding changes to the paper patterns – 3/8″ here, 1/2″ there, opening it out, taking it in. Several modifications to each pattern. At this point in the week those muslins were fitting pretty well.

An early night tonight. I have to be ready for the Airport Shuttle which is picking me up at 5:45 in the morning. I haven’t looked at Halifax weather all week. Hope it’s not snowing when I get back!

San Francisco 5

Time disappears when you’re deeply engaged in something. Here it is 5:15pm Thursday afternoon. Where have the last two days gone?

I’ve finished a second pair of pants – you ask about the first? I finished those yesterday morning. Sandra suggested a small modification to the front of the pants so instead of starting on the shirt (I’ve made adjustments to refine the fit of that pattern as well) I thought I should do the second pair of pants to see how they’d turn out.

Here they are: the front:

Pants 2 -Front

 

And the back:

Pants 2 – Back

This is the closest I’ve come to a comfortable well fitting pair of pants. The twill I’ve made these in has a wee bit of give but it’s pretty stiff so some pull lines are inevitable. But in a more stretchy or drapey fabric they’ll be great.

And yesterday (that was Wednesday) we sewed in the morning and went fabric shopping in the afternoon – visited a couple of great fabric shops where I couldn’t resist picking up fabrics for garments as well as a few small pieces of quilting cotton.

Fabric Shopping

 

There’s a name for it: pareidolia – seeing faces in inanimate objects! There are faces everywhere – in the hotel bathroom:

Face #1


On the door to the room:

Face #2


Wouldn’t you call that a sad face?

Anyway, I tidied up my sewing station after I finished my white pants. Tomorrow I’ll have time to cut out my shirt before we have to pack up and vacate the sewing room.

I’m here in San Francisco till very early Saturday morning so I’ll schmooze a bit Friday afternoon. The week has flown by astonishingly fast.

Canada’s Big Quilt Bee

The Canadian Quilters’ Association is holding a Canada-wide quilting bee to commemorate our 150th birthday. The women in my building got together yesterday and we made blocks/slabs to contribute to the more than 1000 quilts the association hopes to donate to Ronald McDonald Houses across the country.

Most of the women dug through scraps of fabric, assembling strips and pieces to sew into 12 1/2″ blocks (each block to contain a small piece of “Canada cloth” containing maple leaves) – I was one of the sewers. I must have stitched at least 15 blocks. In all, we assembled 50 blocks – enough for two 4×6 tops, or four 3×4 tops which is what the Association will be making at the “Big Quilt Bee” to be held in Toronto June 14-17. During the four days volunteers will be assembling thousands of individual quilt blocks into quilt tops and making them into quilts.

As we were leaving Avis handed me one more batch of pieces. I made the block this morning:

Lobster Block

My lobster block has the requisite maple leaves, along with some Nova Scotia tartan and colours representing the forests, sea, sun and sky of Nova Scotia. I completed the block with a multi-coloured scrap. I hope it tickles the fancy of some recovering child.

As of March 31: “STATUS UPDATE on the Big Quilt Bee
300 finished quilts, 143 tops and 1,000 blocks (which will make 83 quilts) for a total of 513 quilts to date!”

Pants #4

I spent all weekend working on Pants #3 and #4 using what I’d learned from the two failures from last week. Same two fabrics – a 20% stretch cotton/polyester denim/twill in a mid-blue and a navy.

This time I constructed the pants front first and made sure I put the front waistband on when I’d finished the fly and pockets! So the side seams lined up as they should have.

Pants #4 – Front

I made the pockets smaller (shorter) and positioned them higher – closer to the yoke seam. I didn’t bother decorating the pockets, just topstitched the top hem. They’re now a better size for my bum and sitting  better.

Pants #4 – Back

The side seams (and inseams) are straight.

Pants #4 – Side

This fabric is actually quite difficult to work with. Because of the amount of stretch I needed the pants to be close fitting – so there is no escaping some wrinkles. However, I’ve had them on since early this morning and they are snug but very comfortable – the back waist stays in place when I sit (a huge plus – my renovated jeans all pull down in back) so the back crotch must be long enough and whatever curvature I left on the side seams at the top of the back seems to hold the pants up over my hips.

I’d prewashed the fabric in warm water (which is what I use for all my washing) and it “shrunk”a bit when I steam pressed it. However, it loosens as I’m wearing the pants. Pants #3 needed washing after two days – I’m hoping they’ll tighten up after they’re laundered. Also, I have no idea whether the fabric will shrink in length (no stretch along the length) so although the pants look a wee bit long I made them my standard 27 1/2” inseam.

That’s it for pants right now. I have pant lengths of khaki and white fabric which are in my take to San Francisco pile – I’ll make up both pairs during the sewing retreat there consulting with Sandra Betzina about refinements with fitting. What these two pair (#3 and #4) have accomplished is a reshaping of the crotch and legs by removing excess fabric from the side and inseams rather than using the mid-back dart and they’ve turned out reasonably well.

And as I’ve said, they’re comfortable.

Pants #3 – Back

Pants #3 – Front

Pants #3 – Side