Skinny Quilts/Wall Banners

I’m not sure what to call these wall art pieces – they’re narrow raw-edge appliqué quilts constructed from a simple pieced background with a few fused top elements. It’s the simplicity of them that captured me in the first place and I decided to offer the idea as a class.

The class was yesterday.

To prepare for the class, I set up four skinny quilts as examples. I’d sewn backgrounds using narrowish width of fabric cuts from complementary fabrics and then cut out and arranged on each some shapes (to which I’d already added fusible web).

Panel #1: Diamonds.

I’d cut out more diamonds but decided to go with fewer and to bring the viewer’s eye toward the the bottom of the panel I added a single slightly smaller diamond.

Diamonds

Panel #2: Cascading Circles

From small scraps I cut out colourful circles in decreasing diameter, then fused them on the centre in increasing distance from one another to simulate a cascade.

Cascading Circles

Panel #3: Squares

With this panel I decided to keep the squares the same size, but when I laid out the squares I thought a couple of smaller squares top and bottom would balance the array. Then, as I was fusing the squares in place I decided to fill in the gap near the bottom right of the arrangement with two different small blue circles. I’m still deliberating whether or not to add something nearer the bottom of the panel.

Squares

Panel #4: A School Of Fish

The fish were leftover pieces I’d saved from the just finished quilt. As I was cutting out the “X” pieces I realized I was creating “Fish” shapes which I saved thinking I’d find a use for them at some point. It turned out the light coloured fabric was short a few inches from a full width of fabric panel so I added in the dark blue piece (also a leftover from the just finished quilt). The school of fish is swimming at the bottom of the panel.

Fish

The women in the class had a great day – the projects were simple enough for them to create the background panel, decide on some kind of appliqué, edge stitch the fused pieces, add batting and backing fabric, then sew on hidden binding strips on all four sides.

Not everybody got as far as the binding strips (everybody did finish the edge stitching of the appliqué) but Azar managed to complete her panel – she just has to hand stitch the hidden binding on the back and she’s ready to hang it.

Azar’s Skinny Art Quilt

The other women are joining me next Wednesday for a “come and sew” session where I can help them complete their panels. I hate leaving a class with another UFO and no idea how to finish the project.

I didn’t have a “pattern” or set of instructions for making a skinny quilt – the point of the project was to encourage the women to take an idea and improvise on it – to look at the fabrics they have on hand, set up a background, and add something simple, but elegant on top, do a bit of stitching/embroidery, then do an elegant finishing to create a piece of art.

Next week, I may set up one of the high-end embroidery machines in the shop to embroider signatures on each of their pieces – works of art, are after all, signed. I sign and date all of my wall art work!

Three Hangings – Completed (Skinny Quilts)

I spent the better part of the day hand stitching the hidden bindings on the back of each panel – took over an hour each and left a small hole in the middle finger on my right hand in spite of the small metal thimble disc (Ultra Thimble) I had stuck to my finger. (The hole will take a day or two to heal.)

Three Hangings – Completed 10″ x 42″

I made a point of matching the hidden bindings with the front of each hanging so that when they’re on the wall the fabric at the edge is consistent with the panel itself.

Back of Panels

I am definitely pleased with how these panels turned out – they feel refined, sort of elegant. I must find a location to hang at least one of them somewhere in my apartment! That will be a challenge because there isn’t much wall space left.

Untitled #1

Untitled #2

Untitled #3

Three Hangings (Skinny Quilts)

I’ve been working on these three hangings for the past several days – I needed a few more wall hangings to fill out the stash for the upcoming showing in Parrsboro in August and decided three simple long narrow panels would work. These three panels are done except for the hidden binding which I’m just about to do.

Three Hangings – in Progress

Finished dimensions: 10″ x 42″.

Once started, I can see a gazillion more I could do but I am going to stop here for now. I still want to get the Black Rocks piece done for the show; however, I’m turning to garment making for the next couple of weeks.

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″.

Found Art – Another Floral Collage

While I was working on “Flowers” I came across a fabric scrap from some zippered bags I’d made and thought the blossoms were interesting, sharply enough printed to allow some detailed thread painting, so I cut out what I could and here’s what I’ve come up with.

Found Art

The previous collage was contained within the framed area. I decided to try a piece that extended the flowers beyond the inner border.

For some reason, the large floral batik seems to complement the colours and after auditioning several pieces for the inner border I finally selected the lime which ties the piece and the wide outer border together. I’ll bind this work with a hidden binding.

So far I’ve stitched in stems to give the collage a bit of flow. Next I’ll do something with the leaves, then finally the flowers. Not sure where a signature will go – I’d intended it to be in the bottom right but I’ve brought the stems too far down leaving me w little short. There are a couple of options – I Have to keep thinking about it.

New Wall Art Projects

I took this photo in the main square in Cortona, Tuscany in April. We were visiting the city and enjoying the food and the shops and just wandering around – these two men deeply engrossed in conversation caught my attention. I’ve known from the outset this would become the basis of a wall art project.

Enjoying The Morning Sun

I started playing with the image yesterday – first I wanted to remove the other people, to isolate the companions. The blue-shirted gentleman is making a classical Italian gesture – thumb pressed to first and second fingers moving his wrist back and forth; in his other hand he has a cigarette. I want to bring the viewer’s eye to this man.

Morning Sun – Initial Steps

With the other people removed and just the shops behind, the men now stand out – I removed the advertising from the supermarket windows – I will do them in the same dark colours you can see through the open shop door. I intend to keep the partial bench on the right (having taken away the woman who is reading and smoking).

Looking at this image now, I think I want the men to be on the right side – it’s got something to do with the speaker being stronger in that position. I’m about to try cutting off the building on the right and repositioning it on the left, reversing the bench so it is cut off at the left edge – that will also allow me to strengthen the greenery growing on the stones of the facade behind.

It’s not enough that I’m taking on this project, I’m also working on a second. I took photos of some poppies in Marlene’s front garden this summer and these two oriental poppies are striking. I started by outlining the petals so I could do a tracing which I’ll use for cutting out red fabrics. They’re growing beside a light green hosta, with a taxus shrub behind and a darker hosta in the top left corner.

Oriental Poppies

Tomorrow I will start looking for fabrics I can use to construct both these images. Generally I work on one piece at a time. For some reason both have been insistent I begin work on each of them.

Tropical Flowers II

One leaf done – a second underway and weeks of work left to do.

One Leaf Done; Weeks Of Work To Do

The question is why bother? Why didn’t I just fussy cut the flowers, fuse and edge-stitch them in place and leave it at that? Good question. The thread painting, in spite of the large amount of work involved, adds interesting texture and dimension to the fabric turning it into a piece of wall art. I probably should have thought more about the size of the piece before I began, choosing fewer elements, but this panel does make an interesting art object. So I committed myself to the work. In addition, the fabric raw edges are inclined to fray because the bark cloth is loosely woven – thread painting lets me densely edge stitch creating a sharper outline for the flowers and leaves.

Tropical Flowers – Bark Cloth

I started with printed bark cloth given me by a friend – 4 one metre pieces with different coloured backgrounds. I chose the blue to work with here but you can see from the black piece just how clearly printed the flowers are. The fabric provides a lovely foundation for doing thread painting.

Tropical Flowers – A Selection

The first step is to choose a few flowers/leaves and cut them out. Next I apply a fusible web to the back of the fabric, pressing the whole thing flat, then fussy cutting before removing the paper backing from the fused web – the paper makes cutting out much sharper. Once the flowers are fused to a background fabric, thread painting can begin.

So that’s where I am in the process. It will take many hours to fill in the colour gradation of the leaves and flowers – I’m working to eliminate the grey using light values of the adjacent colours so “grey” won’t mean grey when I’ve done thread painting – there will be pale green, or pale teal, or pale pink where grey currently is found.

The flowers/leaves on the black backed fabric don’t have grey, instead the fabric has appropriate light shades for each element, making the decision-making process somewhat easier. But now, back to the teal leaf which I began yesterday….