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From the Design Wall Part 1

Starting Out

This is the first of a series of posts showing how an art quilt goes from the design wall to a finished piece.  I am writing these as I am making this piece, so there will be some posts before and after each post in this series.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this as I go, so please let me know what you think in the comment section.

Starting out, I went into my stash of hand dyed fabric (I do this myself) and found this nice grey/blue length that seemed a good neutral background for the piece I have in mind.  Then I started looking for color.  I auditioned several colors and the photo above is what I started out with.

Percolating

My usual process is to let an idea percolate for awhile, while I work on other things.  The photo above shows another fabric I added into the mix.  It seems to give it the little bit of pop I was looking for.

That little piece of white over there to the right are some very rough sketches of some of the shapes I want to incorporate into this piece.  Here is a close up…

sketches

You see…very rough sketches.  But they give me an idea of the direction I will go — I have ruled out some shapes and combinations and have kept some as more interesting.  Keep in mind that these are a starting point.  I may end up with something entirely different.  The point of this process is to get the thinking/creativity started.

This will stay up on the design wall for a couple more days, as I continue to think about exactly how to translate my idea into fabric.  Next step, I will start cutting and throwing the shapes up onto the design wall.

A Break from Surface Design

Batik Baby Quilt

In between all of the surface design activities last weekend and into the week, I have been sewing on this little sweetie.  I was going through my scrap stash the other day and found a good size stack of 5″ squares.  These came from a couple of different sources, but mostly from a time several years ago when Debra Lunn of Lunn Fabrics came to speak at my quilt guild.  She gave out a small stack of their beautiful batik fabrics to everyone who was there.

Obviously nothing fancy here…just 5″squares sewn together, and slap on a 6″ border and voila!  You have a baby quilt!  But it was nice to have some sewing that didn’t require much concentration and still came together lovely.  Sometimes simple is best.

I’m looking forward to getting this quilted.  It is first in line now behind the Christmas gift quilting and in front of the vintage quilts.  Lots of tops already to be quilted, and still sketching out ideas for art quilts.  This will be an exciting winter in the studio!

Ignorance Is…

Pretty!

You can fill in the blank!  Here’s how an unfortunate set of mistakes led to a fortunate result!

Most people who know me, know that I am…hmmm…well, mathematically challenged.  And I am particularly challenged in measurements.  This has resulted in a number of interesting choices in lengths of fabric to buy — sometimes too much, sometimes too little.  Also some serious miscalculations in the number/size of blocks needed for a quilt.  In part, this is why I embrace art quilts…very little measuring involved!

This length of fabric was meant to be Exercise 1 in Jane Dunnewold’s book, Complex Cloth.  (By the way, this is an awesome book and if you are at all interested in surface design I highly recommend you get this.)  In this exercise, you are to immersion dye the fabric, discharge, overdye, and stamp the fabric.  So I measured out the water and chemicals, added the dye powder and dyed the fabric a really lovely light blue.

After I washed it out, I thought that the dye didn’t penetrate the fabric like it should, but it was a nice result so I moved on to step 2.  This step is to discharge the fabric with household bleach.  (Discharging removes the dye.)  I don’t like the smell of bleach, and I found a bleach pen in my drawer so I just used that.  It didn’t work…the design I drew with the bleach pen on the fabric did not discharge.

So I just moved on to step 3, overdying the fabric.  Again I mixed up the chemicals, added the dye powder and dyed the fabric.  About three hours later, I looked at my dye bucket, then looked at a 5 gallon bucket, and looked again.  I was only using 2 gallons of water instead of 4 gallons in my dye solution.  What happens is that the fabric does not have enough room to move around, so the dye doesn’t penetrate the fabric evenly.

I pulled this fabric out of the dye bath, washed it out, and I love it!  I can do Exercise 1 some other time.  In the meantime I am going to enjoy my ignorance!