Old and vintage fabrics, stitcheries and embroideries, old cloth and linen- I love all of these and love to work with them when I can. I have various bits and pieces that I’ve been lucky enough to be given or have found in op shops or craft stalls etc. The rider is, of course, that I always say that I will probably be cutting it up or tearing into pieces to make something ‘new’, so as long as everyone is happy with that, I’ll take whatever I’m given!
Some years ago, I went shopping with my daughter in a second-hand shop and we came across a beautiful powder-blue dress which probably dated from the sixties. It was a short close-fitting sheaf, with a satin lining and lace overlay. It fit my daughter’s slim figure perfectly, so I just had to take the length up a little and she wore it to a race day. The strip of lace and fabric I had to cut off didn’t get thrown away- I kept it and just recently found a use for it.
I’be been experimenting with stitching paper and cloth and laces etc. as part of an online course with Karen Ruane. We are experimenting and making little bits and pieces that can be attached to pages in an ‘artist book’, or a little journal if you like. I used the lace scrap to stitch onto some tracing paper.
Using free-motion machine stitching, I stitched round and round in a random fashion. The tissue paper can then be torn off, leaving little paper scraps left behind, or leave it on as you wish.
It can then be enhanced with further stitching including hand-stitching and embellished, as I did below. I cut off one section of th elace, removed the tissue paper from the middle part, and hand-stitched it onto some cream hand-made khadi paper.The little wooden beads are from an old necklace of mine that broke years ago.
This little quiltlet was made as part of an ongoing challenge with my local quilt group. It is another of the fabric journal pages that we have been working on all year.
The theme for September was ‘Age’. Loooking at my little piece, you may not immediately be able to identify how I used Age as my inspiration- yes? no?
It represents the different ages of mankind- from stone age on the left through the bronze age and up to the iron age on the right. Each of the little embellishments were sewn on to represent each of those Ages.
The backing is a piece of linen with torn edges and I started by adding some hand stitches. The embellishments were all sorts of bits and pieces I’ve gathered or found here and there..
in the middle I added some bronze foil highlights
Before I went too far, I got the idea to paint some gesso onto the background to add some visual texture
on the side couched some stones in amongst the stone-coloured buttons and other pieces, then added scraps of fabric and some random hand-stitches amongst the folds of coloured cheesecloth
The last step was to do some free-motion quilting over the top half with a cream-coloured thread.
In my last post I showed the art quilt I made as part of a challenge, using a bag of random items. Today I thought I’d also show some of the other quilts that were made by my fellow guild members.
This one was made by Helen:
Helen was the lucky- although she thinks she was unlucky!- recipient of the bag of stuff I donated, which had some black patterned chiffon fabric, which became seaweed;
teabag paper, small bits of craftwood, wool, ribbon and a feather, and ….
some metallic sequin waste which makes excellent fish!
Margaret made a quilt bag:
This one was created by Shirley- the sea was a popular theme this month!:
This next one was created by Lyn, who cleverly utilised a CD as the base for the whirligig in the bottom left corner:
And Meryl’s, which I have shown here before:
The thing about challenges like these is that they bring out everyone’s inventiveness and allows us to give reign to our creativity- the ways that people can come up with using seemingly random bits and pieces is unique to all those individuals, and it’s so much fun to see what they are!
Some true textile treasures!
If you were given a bag of random assorted ‘stuff’, such as this one here, what would you make with it?
My art quilt group recently set ourselves this challenge- we all brought in a bag of stuff, which was then passed on to another member, and we then had to create a small quilted work, using at least some of all of those things in the bag.
The bag I received had some green felt, a bag of small green triangle confetti-sized bits, some large buttons and little tiny buttons, fabric scraps, some beads, cord, and wool. It took some thinking time to come up with an idea….
But, it was the little triangle scraps that made me think of fish scales so I thought a fish would be the go.. Then I remembered a book I had by Susan Carlson where she had made a series of fish quilts using a collage-type method of applique. I used her template for the fish shape and individual pieces.
I had to choose a range of fabrics for the fishy. I utilsed the paisley scrap that was in the bag and added to it a lot of batik bits which seemed to suit the colours.
To make the main body piece, the green triangles were placed in between some Solvy and randomly sewn all over to connect them all up. The Solvy is then washed away to leave the green made-up fabric.
Assembling the fish:
I had to constantly go back and check my bag of stuff, to work out where I could incorporate the various bits: the big green button could be his eye, placed on top of a circle of the green felt and a piece of the dark red fabric scrap could be his lip.
The assembled fish:
Now I had to work out the background, so I ‘auditioned’ a few pieces of bright fabric.
In the end, I went with a two-pieced background, using a bright print for the bottom on which I could build up the sea-floor.
I unpicked the piece that came in the bag with a strip of red, cream and print and used the pieces individually.
The cream became a rock, plus an octopus. The red was a rock, the print made a convincing coral outcrop, with the small buttons and bead. I twisted the wool and the cord together and attached it along the bottom. I added some more little fish cut from the paisley fabric, and some swaying seaweed from the green felt.
It was all topped off by lots of free-motion quilting.
Some rich emerald green was used for the borders, and my fishy was done!
For my latest art quilt group challenge, I made a fabric journal page under the theme of using a famous saying or line of verse as inspiration.
I decided I wanted to try and make a small piece that would reflect a saying that was recognisable without actually using any words on the page. So it had to be something very well known, and that could be easily be reproduced in an illustrative way. Of course, it took me a week or two mulling it over but eventually did come up with something. What message do you think these guys are trying to get across?
I used a technique of making some ‘paper fabric’ for the background- I blogged about the process here.
As part of that, I used newspaper scraps which reflected bad news that the monkeys are trying to avoid…
…and then surroundered them with ‘nice’ things, like, flowers and cupcakes, and hearts and lace.
The three wise monkeys are made out of black felt that I first placed in position on the paper fabric with a few drops of glue, and then machine-sewed on with free-motion stitches around the very edge. I sewed a strip of cupcake fabric across the bottom edge and some colourful buttons on top of that. The row of flowers were also machine-sewn with a fine black thread- you can see the holes created by the needles so it has a real ‘sketchy’ look.
I used bobbin-sewing to attach the paper fabric onto a backing of cotton wadding, using a thick, textured thread in the bobbin and sewing from the wrong side. To back all of that I used a piece of natural-coloured linen, fixed by large running stitch.
So, that’s my interpretation of the saying ” see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.
For this month’s art group challenge, we have to create a page for our fabric journal that has the theme of either a line from a poem or a common saying or verse. These challenges take a lot of thought- in fact I think I spend more time thinking and planning than actually creating it.
I had an idea that I’d like to incorporate paper onto the page this time and I had a recollection of reading somewhere about making a kind-of hybrid paper and fabric mix which can be stitched and used just like fabric. So I went hunting and found in this book…
…the instructions on how to make ‘fabric paper’. So that formed the basis of my play day on the weekend.
These are the makings: open weave muslin or cheesecloth, glue, paintbrush and a little paint, teabag paper, some tissue paper and newspaper- I wanted to have a newspaper-look to the fabric.
The process involved putting a layer of glue on to the fabric backing, then torn up bits of newspaper, more glue,
tissue paper, some teabag paper and more glue, and then sponging a little white paint here and there.
Looks lovely, no?
Leave it to dry, and the next day it looks like this:
Now I have a base, and I can start to embellish it.
A new group challenge for our little art quilt group is to create fabric journal pages. Each month we make a new page, utilising whatever methods and techniques we want to and in keeping with the monthly theme. The pages will be eventually bound together to form a fabric art journal. We can make it any size we want and we will be keeping our own journal at the end of it.
This month’s theme was door, doors or entryway. This is my interpretation of that theme:
My inspiration was the the beautiful scenes we see of countries like Morocco, Italy and Greece with the sun-bleached houses on the hillsides and the sparkling blue seas in the background. I used all vintage materials- i.e. old bits and pieces of fabric, to form the house shapes and hand-stitched the red doors in a variety of stitches. Hopefully when you look at it, the first thing you notice are the red doors!
Other interpretations of the theme came from:
Plus here are a couple of pieces completed from last month’s theme where we had to utilise orange plastic mesh in some way:
I think what we’ve all found from these challenges is that we are all creative in some way, despite our early misgivings on just what we would be able to come up with! Sometimes most of the month is taken up with forming the idea and the actual creation may not be so arduous. To give myself some guidelines for this challenge, I have decided on the following aims for my pages:
i) to make the pages in muted colours, as a contrast from my usual brightly coloured quilts,
ii) to use recycled items wherever possible,
iii) to create a look where there are lots of little pieces on the page; like embellishing with bits of fabric and threads, and
iv) to use lots of hand-stitching- not necessarily nice and perfect but big stitches, using thick or uneven threads, showing the knots on the front etc.
Once the idea has crystallised in my mind, I then think about how to create it keeping those principles in mind. I may not always keep to them exactly, but pretty close to it.
Anyway, that’s just how I do it!
Here’s another look at my page from last month, utilising the orange mesh as an inspiration even though it wasn’t physically on the page:
Sunday was another really hot day here and spent mainly inside with the air-con, so I decided to have a play with some fabric paints. Painting on fabric and embellishing with different techniques is something I’ve long been interested in, but don’t actually do that often. Not sure why- probably just because of the thought of getting the supplies out and cleaning up afterwards, but also I think because I have a tendency to mainly do something for a particular purpose, and not just to have a play and experiment. I think that is a legacy from always having to fit my quilting and art around work, and with limited short periods of time that I could use, I had to use it efficiently as possible.
So anyway, I’m trying to rectify that mind-set, and got the paints out, and the brushes and the water and the stamps and had a go!
The little house stamp is one I made last year in a workshop with Lisa Walton. I used fabric paint mixed with a little textile medium and painted it on to the stamp with a brush. If I was intending to do a lot I would have used a roller to roll the paint on to the stamp.
I just used some calico, and in this house below, brushed on some darker paint across the lower part- I like that effect of varying the shades within the one stamp mixed with the ‘swipe’ marks of the brush. I added the gold on later.
I stamped it on to some old fabric left from some dressmaking; perhaps it might make its way into a street scene one day.
The purple part of the fabric directly above the houses looks like volcano lava flowing down?
I’ve had this little fleur-de-lis stamp in my cupboard for years so tried it too.
First by itself on some calico and also in a row. The looked a bit boring in a row by themselves so I got out some gold paint and swiped a little on with the brush.
So even though I still had to clean up afterwards, it felt good to have a play- these bits will come in handy for some future art quilt projects!
This is my cute little deer; sewn over the Christmas period and just a little late after the fact!
He is finished now, although I do wonder whether anything is ever ‘finished': I could do a lot more hand-stitching on it, but other things are beckoning so I think that’s good and enough.
The background cloth is an old linen I found at an Op shop and all of the various bits and pieces are either scraps left from other sewing projects or little fabric bits gifted to me by a friend who travelled to India a few years back (thanks Juliet!)
The cloth is done in the tradition of Jude Hill and her Spirit Cloth teachings. A lot different to my usual bright coloured quilts!