Abstracts From Scraps – II

Just finished – the pink background wall art panel with appliqué and machine embroidery.

Fern 4

I added in a bit more pale fabric to lighten the whole, reconstructed the embroidery so it would be different from the previous two. All of the panels still need a signature which I’ll get to tomorrow. For now, that’s it. I did look at the turquoise fabrics but I haven’t pulled any from the boxes yet. I will probably do a fifth to fill out the set.

Abstracts From Scraps

Last week I started work on an idea I had for creating abstract wall art from fabric scraps. I pulled small pieces from the red/yellow scrap box, pieced them, added in a few soft blues/greens to complete the block (~10″ x 12″), added a few bits of appliqué, fused, then stitched them into place, added an offset machine embroidery of a fern.

Fern 1

The second piece uses predominantly blues with a bit of purple/green, three appliqué circles and, again, a machine embroidered fern.

Fern 2

The third piece uses green batik scraps with a few appliqué circles and a fern machine embroidery in the bottom left.

Fern 3

Those three are completed – now I need to decide whether to finish them with a quilt binding, or an invisible binding, and a backing fabric (probably natural muslin, of which I have quite a bit in a drawer).

I’m about to assemble a fourth piece in shades of pink with a few other accent colours. I can see from the photo I need to interject a few more light elements, particularly in the lower right, to make this background work. Again, there will be some small bits of appliqué and another “fern” embroidery to complete the work.

Fern 4 – in progress

I may still do a fifth using turquoise scraps….

[These wall art pieces are an extension of something I started with a single piece a year ago “Dots” – where I pieced scraps, then added a bit of appliqué. This time I seem to be focusing on colour as an organizing principle.]

I also want to do a few pieces which I refer to as “faces” –

A Very Sad Face


The Scream

Definitely A Cat

For these pieces I plan to print the images on fabric, create a background, carefully cut out the essential “face” elements, appliqué them in place and thread paint the background a bit. I see these as relatively small pieces — ~9″ x 12″.

I’m still working, as well, on the bark cloth floral cut-outs. I hope to make progress today on the flowers. One thing I’ve learned (I guess I really knew it but didn’t act on it) is I need to have a similarly coloured bobbin thread to have the thread painting come out successfully! Otherwise, when I use a white embroidery bobbin thread, it shows and I’ve been forced to carefully darken the stitching with permanent markers. I finally made the switch when I did the “fern” pieces above. I took the time to set up quite a few bobbins filled with different coloured rayon thread so the embroidery and thread painting looks like I want it to without bits of white showing.

Thread Painting

I started thread painting the bark cloth cutout flowers and leaves the other day. It goes surprisingly quickly and yet it seems to take a lot of time. The first thing I did was stitch the edges of the fused cutout using a modified blanket stitch (w: 1.5mm) with a smoke coloured monofilament thread in the needle (a white rayon embroidery thread in the bobbin). As I’m thread painting, I’m stitching over the cutout edges with embroidery thread to obscure the loose warp/weft threads that are peeking out.

One leaf is done, parts of the larger leaf begun and the dark thread on the anthurium has been stitched – lots more to go. Next will be the brighter green elements on the larger leaf and the “grey” elements will be some shades of bright green, not sure what precisely, yet.

Thread Painting The Bark Cloth Flowers & Leaves

I’m using the embroidery thread doubled – two close shades – both threads through the single needle eye. It’s working well, I’m not having any tension difficulty. I’m not trying to cover the fabric with stitching – just enough to provide some texture and sheen.

Here’s where my collection of fine permanent markers is proving handy – I filled in the grey on the dark leaf with a bright green which livens up the whole. I will do the same on the larger leaf.

Thread Painting – Detail

This piece is a test run for the larger one with the natural raw silk background. The graceful movement of the printed design is making the thread painting straightforward – the flowing lines are easy to replicate, even though I have both the feed dogs and the Pfaff IDT engaged! (I’m doing that to maintain a consistent stitch length – I don’t come close to an even stitch length with free motion sewing). Using the needle down position, the presser foot lifts a wee bit when I stop which allows me to freely manoeuvre the fabric as I sew. So the long flowing lines are happening without difficulty.

Time to get back to work on the larger leaf.

Second Leaf – Finished

This is the second leaf stitched and tinted using the permanent markers – much more lively colour than original “grey”.

Next – the anthurium.


Pink Flowers – Finished

I just put the finishing touches on this wall art piece – Pink Flowers. In the photo it looks a bit out of kilter, but I that’s an artifact of where I was standing when I took the photo – the piece is 15.5″ wide x 18″ in height.

Pink Flowers

I did quite a lot of stitching using rayon embroidery thread – two colours at a time through the one eye of the machine needle which gives a tiny bit of depth to the colour of the stitches. I elected not to stitch in the background – mainly because I had no idea what sort of design would have augmented the piece rather than detract from the flowers. The piping is there to heighten the colours in the flowers, and the printed border/frame extends the “texture” of the background.

Stitching Detail

Now on the next one using the fussy-cut flowers from the bark cloth. The fabric colours are somewhat subdued – I’m planning on using strong bright shades of rayon embroidery thread for the thread painting.

New Wall Art Underway…

This morning I finally stopped procrastinating on the wall art – I found myself starting on two unexpected projects. Yesterday I was going through fabric in my stash looking for fabric for the Federer piece and came across some Hawaiian bark cloth with large floral patterns which I thought could be turned into an interesting raw-edge appliqué piece on a raw natural silk background fabric:

Raw Edge Appliqué using Hawaiian Bark Cloth Floral Cut-outs

I cut the fabric in thirds, isolating one repeat of the pattern, fused Heat ‘N Bond Featherlite fusible web to the back of the fabric, fussy cut the flower/leaves elements, then fused them to a panel of natural raw silk (backed with Warm ‘n Natural quilt batting).

Now I need to go through my embroidery threads and pick out colours to use for securing and thread painting the raw-edge fabric elements.

I also got a second piece underway – I had a small leftover scrap of a modern floral which I’d used years ago to make a wide-brimmed summer hat. I thought the cut out flowers, placed randomly on a pieced background, would be an interesting vehicle for thread painting – I started that this afternoon. This piece will finish around 10″ x 12″ – it’s a test run to see where this idea can take me.

Raw Edge Appliqué – Modern Flowers on Pieced Background

So I’ve got two pieces to work on and maybe I’ll make some progress by the end of the weekend!

Wide-brim Summer Hat

[Here are instructions for making this wide-brim hat, if you’re interested.]

Sailboats In The Fog – II

I finally finished Sailboats In The Morning Fog – in time for the Tuesday class this past week. That involved the thread painting on the boats and their reflections in the water,and a bit of movement in the water on the right side of the harbour. Next I added a matte done in white muslin, followed with a dark grey piping, and finally a wide border/frame. I tried several different fabrics, some quite muted but in the end went with this one which brought out the greys of the reflections as well as the wooden insides of the boats. I used the two remaining strips of border fabric to create a hidden binding.


At class the gals all got their work close to finished (except for the hand sewing which they were going to do at home).

Linda had done the thread painting on her Nasturtium before she came. On Tuesday she added the white inner border, the yellow flange, and then the outer navy border. She added a hidden binding in the navy fabric she used for the outer border.


Deb’s Bird of Paradise also turned out beautifully. Although nearly invisible, the purple piping does pick up the purples within the flower and hinted at in the foliage.

Bird Of Paradise

Pam did a lovely job on her wall piece Barn With Quilt – the thread painting, appliqué work on the tree on the left, created a very tactile bark.

Barn With Quilt

Faye’s Fall Walk captures the feel of a cool Nova Scotia fall day. The background was pieced and thread painted, the two figures were printed on fabric and applied to the scene. The red piping draws attention to the woman’s red jacket.

Fall Walk

Linda’s A Fall Day In The Woods brings the vivid fall foliage to life. Her framing of the scene strengthens the texture of the fall colours.

A Fall Day In The Woods

The gals were (as was I) delighted with their work. I wanted them to get the finishing touches on their art pieces in class. We didn’t quite make it, but the remaining hand work was going to be no barrier to them completing their projects.

The Solution…


Stitched Foreground

Michael Fuller wrote me yesterday

Go with the detail and time consuming fussiness. It’ll be superior to the photo copy model….”

‘OK,’ I though to myself, ‘I’ll give it a try.”

That’s where I started today – I began by printing out the black and white outlined image of Brian, the figure on the left, on some Heat ‘n Bond printing paper in order to use the outlines as templates for the fabric – BUT, here’s a glitch: the technique requires a ton of cutting with small fine scissors and for the last six weeks my arthritic right thumb isn’t working – the muscles to “open” the scissors are too weak to let me cut with any precision.

I decided to try fighting through that problem but a second issue presented itself: I cut out the entire jacket in a light fabric intending to use that as the base and building toward the darker tonal qualities until I had the jacket assembled. I fused some Heat ‘n Bond to the wrong side of my lightest fabric, cut out the overall jacket shape – that worked out OK, but when I started to build the left sleeve it became immediately obvious the slight differences in weight of fabric (although all quilting cottons) was going to create an imbalance and because each tiny piece of the puzzle is so small I would be left with a  slightly fraying “raw” edge in spite of the fact that I’ve fused some Heat ‘n Bond to the wrong side of each small piece before cutting it out.


Detail of Figures

The final thing that was obvious was how “lifeless” the construction would be. The very subtle differences in shade intensity wasn’t achievable with the fabrics I have.

I gave up after about an hour of finicky cutting and fusing and decided to use the fabric photo images after all and fused them to the background.

What I will do tomorrow is begin the process of edge stitching each figure and then stitching in the colour/shading boundaries. That is also fussy work but my wonky right hand doesn’t interfere with being able to do careful machine stitching.

Art Quilt #3 – Toward the Future


Click on photo to see detail.

I didn’t take a lot of photos along the way – in part because this project has been sitting around since last April – I knew what I wanted to do with the piece, but somehow it just didn’t make it to the top of my list until about 10 days ago when having finished the third pair of pants I thought it was time to do something with this quilt art work.

Finished dimensions: 18″ X 21 1/2″; it’s a “mixed media” piece – the foliage and the boys are photos printed on fabric (the printed foliage cut and pieced to create the canopy), the foreground elements are pieced quilting fabric to blend with the rest of the materials. The “matting” is raw silk; the border – batik. The boys and the background are two different photos – I had to fussy-cut them from the 8 1/2″ x 11″ printed fabric sheet so I could appliqué them into this background – two young lads walking toward the future created an interesting image, I thought.

To begin with I intended creating the foliage using a variety of green fabrics but nothing was successful – the colours were wrong, didn’t blend, didn’t look like leaves/trees. In the end, I opted to do this piece as mixed media, combining photography with appliqué quilting. I was happy with how the foliage turned out.

To enhance the intensity of the colour of the boys outfits I used oil pastels; permanent markers were helpful for blending thread colour into the fabric. The point was to end up with as realistic an image as I could manage using whatever materials let me do that. I decided not to be inhibited by any “rules” for doing art quilts. I did what worked to create the outcome I was after.

This art quilt I’m keeping – now to find a place to hang it. 


March 28 2015

I follow the work of Melody Johnson – an art quilter who backs her “quilts” with a painted MDF board. I thought that an interesting idea and decided to try it on this quilt:

IMG_4516Definitely gives the piece a more finished look. I like how the blue border lightens the fabric “frame” and gives a strong edge to the work.

I have to take another look at “Asparagus Field” and think about whether I want to do the same thing with that.


In The Park 3

Just finished!

IMG_2598Couldn’t resist hanging it in my living room for now. All along I’ve intended the piece for my sister since these are her two oldest grandsons (she has five). The fabric I used to frame the work wasn’t anything I expected – but yesterday in the shop Pat hauled out a bolt of dark green striped batik and it tied together all the colours in the piece. I added a muslin panel to the back to hide the mess of threads from all the thread painting.

I have to say, I was pleased with how the work turned out. I know what I’m going to attempt next – maybe start it on the weekend. The problem with all of this work, pieced quilts as well as these art quilts is that making them becomes  addictive – it’s the challenge of figuring out how to make something work – once I start, my OCD tendencies take over and I can’t stop – “I’ll just do this one more thing…” I say to myself and suddenly the creative process has taken over my life!

In The Park-2

Still a work in progress – but I made some decisions a couple of days ago – the major one being that I would use printable cotton fabric to create the boys. That meant returning to the original photos, upsizing each boy so he would fit the background appropriately. I printed the images this morning, let them dry thoroughly (as the directions describe), fussy cut them carefully, then applied them with a medium iron. Using a 60 universal needle, I stitched around the outside of each using Wonderfil Invisifil thread – it’s a very fine polyester thread that blends with the fabric and permits very small stitches.

IMG_2589I also decided to stop fighting the large rhododendron bush beside the tree – I removed all the previous fabric and stitching (took a couple of hours of carefully picking out thread!). Today, I decided to print that element on printable cotton as well. In Photoshop I sized that part of the photo to fit the space where I wanted it to be, printed it out, cut it, pressed it, and stitched it into place. It looks way more realistic than what I’d had before. Now I need to do some thread painting to bring out the shaded areas of the bush so it appears three dimensional.

I still have a lot of careful outline stitching to do on each boy. I also need to thread paint the gravel quite a bit more – I had done a bit when I lay the grey fabric in place but now I need to carefully create a more gravel-like texture there.

My plan is to bind the image using a natural coloured raw silk fabric I have, then “frame” the piece with some kind of batik that will complement the image – I’ll have to shop for that (it may not be a batik – something like Northcott’s Stonehenge Colorado might work well).

This is where the piece is, today.