Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Free machine quilting of leaves with thermofax

Silver Birch leaf, on a background of free machined sari strips
Free machine quilting seems to intimidate many quilters.  It has taken on mythical proportions of difficulty and some quilters would do anything to avoid it.  I remember when I first started quilting doing everything by hand because every time I looked at the machine something seemed to go wrong.  Now, after years of practice, I don't even notice that I am free machining, it is as easy as straight stitching.
Free machining is where you lower the feed-dogs on your machine and then you control the size and direction of the stitch rather than the machine.  Like most worthwhile things in life, it just takes practice.  The more you do, the better you become.  
I'm currently making a quilt with some leaves on it and this is how I've recreated the leaves.
Silver birch leaves on the scanner
First I went into the garden and picked some silver birch leaves.  I discovered that our tree is a bit diseased and I need to look up why most of the leaves have funny spots on them.

I scanned in the leaves on the computer and then printed them off and traced the outline and some of the veins of the more interesting ones on tracing paper.  I then scanned the tracing in, printed it off on a laser printer and turned it into a thermofax screen.
Stitch'n'tear leaf, machined over
Using some textile paint, I then printed a number of leaves onto stitch and tear, which after the paint had dried I pinned onto the back of the quilt and stitched round the lines.
From the front, stitched and trimming back the excess fabric from the applique
I tried this in a number of different ways - adding fabric on the front, so it was appliqued on with the stitching as well as just the stitched outline.  
Finished leaf - stitched round once in very thick thread
The fabric was then turned over to the front and more machining added.
I'm really pleased with the effect of these and am now piecing together the quilt top to add the leaves too as the samples worked so well.

Only the outline of the leaves were stitched, then the central veins filled in with more machine stitching in different colours and types of thread

A different silver birch leaf, totally stitched in in three colours.

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