A little quilted 6inch square, in colours of orange and green and depicting something from the theme of flora and fauna. This is my contribution to that challenge.
Karen Mundt- Orange & Green Challenge
I really enjoy stitching more and more these days, so I look for the opportunity to incorporate it where I can. I also wanted to utilise fabrics that I coloured myself in hand-dye classes, so these factors were the starting points in creating this piece.
I arranged pieces of hand-dyed fabric on a backing piece of scrap cotton. When they seemed to be in just the right position, I used a drop of glue to keep them in place before taking the piece to the machine and sewing them down.
I just used a normal straight stitch with some clear thread. Because there was effectively a couple of layers of fabric there, I didn’t have to use any stabiliser so could start straight in with the hand-stitching.
I used 2 strands of green cotton thread and mainly running or back stitch and some knots. I stitched these free-hand, without drawing any outlines first. I try to avoid marking where ever possible, mainly because I worry about getting rid of the lines afterwards, especially if I don’t sew exactly on top of any marks. I also prefer a slightly rugged or naive look to stitching
These are various weeds and grasses, sewn against the landscape-y backdrop. To finish it off, I added another piece of fabric as a backing, then hand-stitched around the edge in a big running stitch using a couple of different threads. I knotted them on the top side and also left the raw edges.
I’d like you to meet my giraffe that I’ve named Gorgeous Georgie- cute, isn’t he!
Gorgeous Georgie- Karen Mundt
He is a little art quilt I made in response to a challenge within my local art quilt group. We were all given a piece of fabric that had to be used in whichever way we wanted to make a quilted piece with irregular edges. This is the fabric we were given- a batik in browns and yellows and green:
To begin with, I couldn’t think what to do with it so I pinned it on the wall for a couple of weeks just looking at it and waiting for inspiration. One day, when I walked into my sewing room, it occurred to me that the fabric looked very much like it could be an animal, and as my favourite animal is a giraffe, I thought – that’s it! I decided I would create it by using a fabric collage method. First I had to find a picture of a giraffe that I could use just for the outline and shapes. That took some time, because I wanted one with the head looking directly at me- I didn’t want the whole animal. I found this one on Shutterstock (royalty-free) images:
I photocopied the picture to the size I wanted, then used a plain piece of white cotton to trace the giraffe head and neck- just the main lines and features. My plan was to create the collaged piece first, then cut it out and applique to a final background. I could place it so that the horns on the top of his head protruded from the background, as well as leaves from a tree over to one side, and this would satisfy the criteria for irregular edges.
The fabric had within it different areas of predominant colour, so I cut it apart and divided it up so I had a mainly dark group, mainly lights and a green group. I could add in a tree with leaves that would use the green pieces.
I then added to these fabrics other assorted scraps in the right colour-tones and cut them up into smaller pieces. I started placing all the pieces, taking careful note of where the darker sections were on the picture I used as my guide. It was important to carefully look at every scrap I picked up for its value; darker pieces can be used to indicate curves in his face, along his nose and jaw etc. I have followed the techniques that Susan Carlson teaches on her blog and in books.
Each piece had a dab of glue on the back so it would stay when placed, the edges were left free so other pieces could be placed under and around where needed. Many pieces were added and taken away and moved here and there.The eyes were assembled as little parts on their own before placing down, and building around them.
As shown in the photos, I started at the top of the head and moved down. The long neck had darker pieces placed first with the large ‘spots’ in a lighter value added on top.
Once I was finished with placing all the pieces I added a little more glue to the edges of the pieces to make them secure. I then free-motion quilted all over as well as adding a backing to the horns that would be sticking up past the edge in the final piece. For his little mane, I used the selvedge edge of a piece of black fabric which had been treated with bleach discharge so it had a mix of dark brown and black along its edge. I made the background out of some blue hand-dyed fabric with a brown homespun. The tree was made in a collage fashion with some of the leaves made as separate pieces as they would be attached to the tree but not completely sewn down. They also had to be double-sided as they were sticking out past the edge.
I did more machine-quilting over all of it to secure the various parts down and create the background of the landscape and a little perspective. I probably haven’t got it all completely accurate, but I’m using artistic license here! I added the backing in the pillow-case method after most of the quilting had been done, and then just added the final stitching to secure the layers and finish it off.
I like him- I think he looks cute!
So, what do you think? What would you have made with the piece of batik fabric?
Here are some pictures of the pieces made by the other members in my group:
L- Shirley R-Allison
I really like this one by Trish- very clever I thought:
I went to a quilting workshop recently. We all had to take our sewing machines, our irons and ironing boards, a cutting board…
a random pick of fabrics, including old blocks left from previous projects and sewing tools, but no rulers.
The day was spent playing with fabric, making free-form cuts in fabric and adding them to any other bits of fabric that your hand might fall on.
I decided to use a lighter colour scheme than I usually work with- some creams, whites, browns and muted colours. These blocks I’m showing here haven’t been trimmed yet.
I also took some old blocks left from a previous project and split them up, then added some slivers of hand-dyed colour.
Our tutor, Peggy Phelps, started us off with some ideas of blocks to start with using lots of techniques such as strip-piecing, wonky flying geese, chequerboard units and uneven log cabin blocks.
A few workshop participants took a little time to get used to ‘not being neat’ but soon got into the swing of it!
And Peggy showed us some of her quilts where she has used lots of lovely bright colour!
I find that any workshop you can do is worth spending the time to do it- there’s always something you pick up along the way- whether it be a new technique or even some inspiration to try something different of your own.
I have a small project that is actually finished! I don’t feel like I get to say that often enough- an actual finish, yay! This is a little story cloth, stitched over quite a long while. I probably started it about 2 years ago, just working slowly and enjoying the process.
It is a stitched piece utilising re-purposed cloth and scraps, torn little bits from here and there. It has raw edges and loose threads…
…bits saved from here and there just added where they looked to fit. There was no plan- I would add one piece then stop and look before adding something else. I guess you could call it an improv cloth! Lots of hand-stitching was added to the top. Its title is Neighbourhood Watch.
It was enjoyable and comforting to work on; the feel of the cloth soft in my hands. I cut up one of my mum’s old pillow-cases, that must have been washed a thousand times in its life, to use as the background. My original inspiration for it was from following Jude Hill on Spirit Cloth, both on her blog and various online classes I’ve taken. I so love her work, and while mine doesn’t look anything like hers, I use her techniques and the inspiration she provides.
I bound it by using strips from fabric left over from the days of sewing my clothes; the frayed selvedges turned to the front and running stitches with perle cotton to keep them in place. I also lightly hand quilted, using the same thread with big stitches.
Truth be told, I’m a little sad it’s actually finished! I guess I’ll have to start another one….
I had so much fun at the Gwen Marston workshop, held in Toowoomba last week. I think we were so fortunate to have a quilter of her calibre to visit. Gwen is a lovely person; lively and funny and generous and down-to-earth with her advice.
She brought along her own quilts to show us. Each day had adifferent focus. The first day was working on medallion quilts and before we started she would show us some of her own quilts, many of which were featured in her book. It was fantastic to see them up close!
These are some of her quilts which show some Amish influences and improvisational piecing and quilting.
The second day was based around her most recent book “37 Sketches”, in which she created lots of little quilts.
With these she played and experimented with lots of improvisation in the shapes she used, free-hand cutting, and restricting or expanding the colour palette. She said that she used them as an artist would a sketch: perhaps dealing with a square shape and the variations she could make with it, and then the next one would have one other shape added to it, or strips inserted in; using all dark colours in one, or all light in another.
We played by creating lots of little ‘spare parts’, trying out her techniques of piecing skinny triangles together, or making little strips with just a pop of colour here and there, or wonky nine-patches, and so on. Some people got as far as joining them all together to make a little quiltlet top, while some of us made a good start on a collection of parts.
Here is how far I got with my medallion centre: I went with this print which I was initially a little undecided on. I cut out a square which I then put on-point and chopped off some corners:
To that, I made some little hourglass blocks:
and added them into a border with some cornerstone blocks of a fabric which looked just perfect for the job!
Next up are my little spare parts. I tried to stick to about 5 or 6 different colours.
Here is a selection of what some of the workshop participants produced in the workshop.
One lady, Jan, had this quilt top to show the class that she had made before the workshop, very much in the style of Gwen Marston and Freddie Moran’s Liberated quilting style:
When I started to develop my long-arm quilting business, I knew I needed to work out what style of quilting would be ‘my style’. There are quite a few long-arm quilters that quilters can choose to take their tops to these days, but all of them have their own style of quilting. I guess it’s like most things- you tend to gravitate to what you like to do mixed with what seems to come naturally to you. I have always liked to do free-motion quilting, often making up designs as I go. For most of the quilts that I do for other people I have used this free-style approach and utilising no, or minimal, marking. Luckily, so far that’s also what most customers have wanted.
I recently finished quilting this brightly coloured quilt for a client. It is only a small quilt; Colleen had made it as a tablecloth for her daughter.
She wanted an effect that wasn’t heavy on the quilting, with just a few specifications here and there.
In the flowered border I did a free-style continuous plume running around the edge…
with the flying geese blocks I just did a serpentine curve around the triangle edges and some curved shapes connecting the blocks.
There was also a little bunch of grapes here and there…
And, last but not least, here is my ‘rose of the week’- isn’t it just the most beautiful shade..
You know that old saying about the only way to find out how to do something is to just do it (I think it’s a saying or did I make it up?) Anyway, it’s one I’ve come to believe in more and more over the years. It’s very true about skills like free-hand quilting or stitching- to get any good at that requires tens of minutes and hours of just sitting down and doing it. It’s also very true about the associated skills that go hand-in-hand with any sewing on a machine, like really getting to know your machine, know what threads it ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’, which thread is best handled by which needle, or what tension setting to have for a particular needle-thread combination or task that you’re doing.
Last year when I was preparing for a local craft fair, I was making a lot of fabric postcards, like these.
It was an excellent way to practise and play around with the settings on my machine, in particular really getting to understand how the tension worked. I could experiment on each little postcard: use different fabrics, different threads, and aim for different effects as it was only a small piece and not a large quilt top being adversely affected.
I changed threads as much as a dozen times a day, and I worked a lot of little foibles that my machine had. I have had my machine, a Bernina 440QE, for about 4 years and I have done a lot of sewing on it but I feel I know it a lot better now from the last 6 months than any time before that. I know when I can use the Stitch Regulator attachment, and when its better to just freehand stitch without it, and I’m more comfortable with the stitches it can do and how I can achieve certain effects.
I had great fun doing these postcards, and I often also make birthday cards the same way. Here is a card I did recently for a friend:
It didn’t take an awful lot of time but the end effect is lovely and colourful and a little bit unique!
While I’m sure that I still don’t know everything there is to know about my machine, I certainly know a lot more than I did not too long ago. I find consistent, regular practise is the key.
I have quite a few quilting projects happening this year; they’re all exciting and promise to be lots of fun. One I’m hoping to be involved in is the Improvi-Robin, organised by Stephanie from the Venus deHilo website. Improvi-Robin is a round robin group quilting project. The focus is on creative play through improvisational and liberated piecing with what we find in our scrap and “orphans and extras” bins. It means there are no patterns or instructions; you just improvise and make up something that you think will suit each block as you see it. Each participating quilter creates a starting block, and swaps with other “robins” to add to a different work-in-progress each month.
You can have a look at what was created last year on this page
On a smaller scale is this little quilt I made last year:
I started with the house block and made up other blocks to add to it, improvising as I went along and using other little blocks I had left over from other projects plus scraps and fabrics already in my stash.
At the end of each round, pictures will be shared on the Improvi-Robin flickr group.
Groups will be formed of 5-7 people, with one month to complete each round. That means we’ll be piecing and swapping for 6 or 7 months, then you’ll have the rest of the year to add to and finish the top you get back from your round robin partners. Stephanie ran the first season of this last year, and I’m hoping there will be international participants this year, if there is enough to form a group.
If we can get enough people in Australia who would like to join in to make a group then we won’t have the high cost of overseas postage for the blocks each month. If you are interested go to Venus de Hilo and have a look. She is hoping to hear from people by the 14th January.
In a recent post here I showed pictures of a stitchery I had started. It was an organic design, made up as I went. I did it as part of an online stitching class with Susan Sorrell
Below is a photo of the finished stitchery. The idea was to use whatever colour threads took your fancy and no pre-planning- just use a few stitches with lots of variation on those stitches. I love the colours and the final design- it doesn’t represent anything in particular- actually it looks a little like a treasure island map?!