At the Festival of Quilts this summer, I had the pleasure of being a student rather than being a tutor. I spent two lovely days in a class with Ruth Brown of Stone Creek Textiles learning how to cyanotype - a blue photography technique that works really well on fabric and paper. These are some of the fabulous results.
Friday, 30 September 2016
Tuesday, 27 September 2016
|Silver Birch leaf, on a background of free machined sari strips|
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|
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|
|From the front, stitched and trimming back the excess fabric from the applique|
|Finished leaf - stitched round once in very thick thread|
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.|
Monday, 12 September 2016
|Detail of a 1930s quilt made with an astounding array of dress making fabrics|
|Visitors to the Open Day|
|More visitors - isn't my studio really tidy for once!|
Here are some quick points we have learned:
- some of the ugliest quilts have the most brilliant stories behind them, like this Canadian Red Cross Quilt, which was given to a family who had been bombed out three times in World War II
|Canadian Red Cross Quilt|
- some of the hand-stitching is stunning, especially when it has been stitched by candle or gaslight. And if you look closely enough, not all the shapes are as crisp as they should be. So quilts were fudged years ago as well and we don't notice it on other people's quilts straight away, nor does it diminish our pleasure of them (there is a moral there!)
|One inch hexagon quilt|
- some of these quilts have their small pieces made up from scraps or they have used mended fabric, so nothing was wasted. I can't imagine piecing two bits of fabric to make a one inch hexagon.
- on the other hand, some of these quilts were made from new, good fabric as you can still see the glaze on the chintz, which would have washed off if it had been laundered.
|A hexagon quilt, which has been carefully 'fussy-cut'|
- you can learn a lot about printing techniques and chemical development over time by looking at the different printed cottons used. Green was hard to make, so blue was over-printed with yellow. Where it didn't line up, you can see the blue and yellow still.
- fabric doesn't last forever and decay depends on what chemicals were used to dye it.
- quilters have always loved the new and 'exciting'
|Two North Country Quilts. The one of the left must have been one of the earliest to use viscose rayon as the fabric|
- just because it is old does not mean it is very good - we shouldn't lose our ability to be discerning when faced with something that has been lovingly preserved over the years. However, this is a judgement call and we all have different tastes, thank goodness.
Two more of my C&G groups still have to see the collection before I return it. If you get the chance, I would highly recommend borrowing it and spending time with these historical objects.
One of my samples based on Ruth's book One of my greatest pleasures in life, alongside art, is reading. Books have always played ...
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One of the best bits of teaching City & Guilds Patchwork and Quilting is having to explore techniques and make samples. I suppose ...