Watercolour Quilt Panel – Making Progress

I played with the arrangement and the colour flow off and on yesterday – I’m stopping with this layout:

Laid Out

I worked at changing the block placement from linear on the diagonal to a more parabolic flow and also tried bringing in brighter colours toward the top.

Half Assembled

The curved colour flow is stronger with the stitched blocks because they end up 3/4 the size (1.5″) of the raw 2″ blocks.

Assembling the blocks is a careful, slow process – I decided to work in pairs of rows, laying the row above on top of the blocks in the row below and rotating them 90˚ so I would be stitching the horizontal edge (12 pairs at a time). Next I pressed the pairs open, assembled 4-block units, finally stitched those together to form a 2-row strip.

I’m needing to be extremely focused while doing the pairing to make sure I’m reconstructing the block layout precisely. So far I’ve succeeded without having to take any stitching apart. I’ll have to be just as careful when I get back at the sewing later today!

I still think I want to add an appliqué of some sort because the panel seems unfinished – at least at this point. I still have no idea what I can add – I googled “watercolour quilts with appliqués” for ideas but everything I’ve seen doesn’t achieve the elegance I’m looking for. So once the panel is completed I may have to put it away and sleep on it for some time. I don’t think the panel wants a silhouette and a photo image printed on fabric won’t do either because the background is very busy. So I will just have to leave it for a while.

Modern Flowers – II

Just finished. I’ve spent the past four days stitching the edges of the appliqué – the leaves and flowers, and creating embroidered flower centres. It’s been slow but steady. Whereas I did a narrow quilt border on the previous version of this idea (flowers on a black/white background), this time I took the flowers to the border edge and decided to do a hidden binding so the cropping of the flowers was easily evident.

Modern Flowers – II (Wishing For Spring)

This version of the idea is brighter than the previous one. I could continue with variations on this theme, but I’m going to stop here. This is wall art piece #9 – I’m aiming to have 12 pieces completed by the end of July – so I’m getting close. On to other ideas.

Last week I cut a set of “watercolour” jellyroll strips in to 2″ blocks – I want to try doing some kind of “watercolour quilt” with the fabric squares – a wall art piece, actually, not a lap/throw quilt. I thought this would be a quick and easy project – not so sure now that I’m trying to lay out the squares in some kind of dark/light array.

There are quite a few people who are doing these quilts – there are any number of tutorials on how to make one. They use a special fusible gridded interfacing – not going to bother with that – I am planning on simply sewing the blocks together in rows based on the layout I create on my cutting table. Also many versions of these quilts use the “watercolour” piecing as a background for something else – I may end up doing something like that but I have no idea what the top appliqué elements might be at this point. Anyway, this is the next project I’m going to try – let you know how I get along!

Floral Collage – Finished

I also finished the floral collage this morning. I resumed thread painting when I got back from Toronto (visiting family) – adding stitching to the leaves, flower petals, and using an embroidery stitch I modified to provide a shaped satin stitch for the stamens. It’s not obvious, but I did quite a bit of stitching on this piece.

Floral Collage -m Finished

I wasn’t sure whether I liked the “raw edge” appliqué – I began by stitching the edge with a very narrow blanket stitch but didn’t like how it looked (it didn’t work with this fabric as well as it did with the printed bark cloth I used for Tropical Flowers); in the end I decided to do just a couple of rows of straight stitching (short stitch length, single embroidery thread) as close to the edge as I could get. Up close the raw edge seems to add to the delicacy of the  petals and leaves.

The lime green inner flange works well to tie the leaves and the greens in the bordering fabric together. While the batik is busy, the inner border separation keeps the flowers from being overwhelmed.

I’m pleased with the overall effect. In this piece I decided to have the flowers spill over into the border – this makes them stand out from the background.

The flowers look a bit like Cosmos, but the foliage is wrong. I’ve spent a bit of time trying to identify the blossoms but haven’t come up with anything definitive. The fabric designer may have just improvised.

The wall hanging is finished with a hidden binding. Final size: 14.5″ x 20.5″.

First Real Sign Of Spring

First Coltsfoot of 2019

Saw these coltsfoot peeking through last fall’s leaves two days ago – a definite harbinger if spring arriving in NS. These were in a friend’s yard; no sign of any in their spot under the trees near my building. Next sign – forsythia in bloom – likely not for another 10 days.

Fall Day 2007

I’ve worked on this for the last four hours – first stitching in the tree trunks and branches on the left, adding foliage from tiny fabric scraps with fusible web on the back (applied to fabric before cutting it, then stitching branches on the trees on the right. Next, I added some definition to the landscape elements by outlining them. Last I added the figure, fused it in place, then outline stitched the figure and the shading on the clothing.

Fall Morning 2007

That’s as much as I can do for now. What I haven’t figured out how to do is stitch the foliage on the trees and on the ground. The fused scraps are very tiny so stitching around each outline doesn’t seem feasible but I don’t know what to do instead. I have to sleep on that.

And below is the image I started with – background and figure fused.

Fall Day 2007

Morning Conversation IV

I worked on the piece quite a bit filling in background – It’s just about there. I think I’ve decided I’m not going to use the fusible vinyl on the windows – it’s just too difficult to apply successfully and I think even though the vinyl I bought is “matte” the shine will detract from the two men.

Morning Conversation IV

I’m still debating whether to thread paint the background elements completely before adding the men – I will end up with stitching underneath that may show but the stop/starts of thread lines would be smoother because they’d be hidden beneath the final appliqué. I guess I can start on the left of the piece and get as far as I can there, then decide.

Morning Conversation I

To begin – yesterday I completed Poppies – backing, hidden binding – all done. When I stand back from the finished piece, I’m pleased with how it turned out. I wasn’t sure along the way that I wasn’t going to scrap the whole thing, but after finding a fabric I thought would work as an outer border and overstitching some of what I’d done with blue embroidery thread, I feel the whole piece ties together. I’m particularly happy with the poppy centres – the texture there worked well.

Poppies – Finished

Today I turned to the second project – two men enjoying a sunny morning in the public square in Cortona, Tuscany. What captivated me when I took the photo was the gesture of the gentleman in the blue shirt – an absolutely Italian way of signalling I’m saying something important (and if you look closely at his other hand you’ll see a cigarette!).

Morning Conversation

When I laid out the piece, I moved the men from the left to the right side – it’s a balance issue – I felt the focus on the speaker was cut off when the men are positioned on the left – on the right, he’s open to the rest of us.

Morning Conversation – Underway

That move has meant I needed to reposition shop windows. In removing all the other people I’ve had to emphasize the hanging plant on the wall behind the men, the sign and tree bordering the left edge. I still have to figure out how to make the windows (without the advertising) work I a believable way. All challenges to be resolved.

The next steps, having sketched in details so I have a sense of where things should go, will be to fill in the large background elements – the sunshine and shadows on the pavement, the stone wall, the windows and doors,…

As always, it’s a matter of working from far to near, building up layers of fabric so the overlaps work. The last piece to be added will be them men themselves.

I picked out fabrics from my stash that I think will emulate the colour combinations in the photo. I will likely use marker on the grey grunge fabric to suggest the stone structure as a basis for thread painting detail. I’ve cropped the top of the shop windows so I don’t have to worry about store names, although I plan on placing the awning on the shop to the left.

The photo has served as inspiration – I’m not copying it exactly but by rearranging the elements I’m creating an image that feels more focused and balanced and less frenetic.