A Summer Project

littlelandscape23

Little Landscape #23 by Laura Wasilowski

It’s summer time! Time to enjoy free time in my cool, neat, and clean studio.

studiostate2OK, maybe it’s not all that neat. There is a lot to straighten up. But I can’t wait to tackle all the potential hidden in those fabulous fused fabric scraps. Do you have a summer project planned too?

Never Enough Embroidery

feltlikegardening5

Felt Like Gardening #5 by Laura Wasilowski

Soon I’m off to Sisters OR to teach a class at Quilter’s Affair called Felt Like Gardening. Felt Like Gardening #5 above is an example of what my students can make with the many felt shapes they’ll get in their kits.

folkartgardenYou may recognize this piece from a similar project found in Joyful Stitching called Folk Art Garden. Using a step-out or stage in the construction process prepared for the book, I changed it up and added more stitchery.

One can never go wrong with more embroidery.

Hope to see you at Sisters!

Dare I Cut?

flowerbud1This is about as far as I go for this hand embroidery on felt. Or is it? Should I fill in the surrounding blue area with more hand stitchery? Or dare I cut it out with a decorative rotary cutter blade and apply the embroidery to another fabric?

flowerbud1a Here goes nothing! (My big fear is that I cut into the stitching. Then what would I do?)

flowerbud1bSo, gritting my teeth and sending a prayer to the St.Ethel of Mertz, I trim the embroidery and place it on a yellow background fabric. Whew! that was close!

What to Do with Size 3 Thread

couching1Size 3 pearl cotton thread is huge! And by that I mean thick, much thicker than your regular size 8 pearl cotton thread. Size 3 is also a little difficult to stitch through fabric. So how do you stitch this bulky thread to your fabric? Use couching.
 
Couching is a method of securing thick threads, like the yellow Size 3 pearl cotton thread above, to the surface of fabric. The heavy thread lays on the fabric and a finer, easier to handle thread, like a Size 8 pearl thread, is stitched over it to fasten it to the fabric.

Here’s how to add Couching to your fabric:

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  1. Come up at point A with the Size 3 thread using a Size 1 embroidery needle. Come up at B, about 1/4’’ from A, with a lighter weight thread like a Size 8 or Size 12 pearl cotton using a Size 3 or Size 5 embroidery needle respectively. (See the Needle and Thread Chart here.)

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  1. Stitch the big needle into the fabric to hold it out of the way. Bring the smaller needle, used with the finer thread, over the thick thread and insert the needle back into B. Draw the thread through the fabric. The finer thread traps the heavy thread into place.

 

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  1. Bring the small needle up at C about 1/4’’ from B. Insert the small needle on the other side of the thick thread and back into C. Draw the thread through the fabric.

 

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  1. Continue to couch down the thicker thread to make shapes, draw lines, or outline shapes. To end the stitching, bring both threads to the back of the fabric and tie them off.

During the month of June I’ll be giving away a skein of hand-dyed size 3 pearl cotton fabric with any purchase from the Artfabrik store. Give it a try!

Stitch Combo Exploration

stitchcombo2Lately, I’ve been exploring stitch combinations to make my free-form hand embroideries. In free-form embroidery there is no pattern or set of instructions to follow. You make it up as you go along. So I can easily spend hours agonizing over what stitch and what color thread to use on a project.

stitchcombo1I’ve tried to approach this exploration logically and made a sort of chart for various stitch combinations that build line, texture and pattern. They range from the simple Blanket Stitch plus French Knot plus Running Stitch like you see above to more complicated combinations.

stitchalong1aWell, this has turned into a major rabbit hole! There are endless combinations. And even though I’ve tried to limit the number of basic embroidery stitches to use in exploring the combinations, it looks like there is no end. Maybe that’s the beauty of hand embroidery. There are endless possibilities!

3 Ways to Design Art Work: Design Triggers

improv51My third method of creating original art quilts begins with a Design Trigger. This way of designing artwork is all about improvisation. There’s no pattern, no theme, no idea. Like walking a tight rope in the dark, you never know what you’ll encounter. Thrilling stuff for a textile artist who lives a safe and cozy life like me!

houseimprov1

Design Triggers

My design triggers are pre-fused fabric scraps. I keep all the cut-aways or fused fabric scraps from previous projects. The fusible web or glue on these fabrics never goes bad and those odd little shapes provide just the right impetus to launch a new design. (You can learn more about fusing here.)

Think of fused fabric scraps as the starter dough for your next art quilt. There is so much potential in these little bits of fabric. But there are pros and cons when selecting the Design Trigger method.

Pros: You are allowed to improvise. There is no pattern needed, no preconceived design you have to try to emulate. You are free to make it up as you go along.

Cons: There is no pattern or sketch on which to base your design. You have to fearlessly cut into your precious fabric and hope it turns out like you want it. Once it’s cut, you can’t go back.

windycity10

Windy City #10 by Laura Wasilowski

Here are some tips when creating with Design Triggers

  • Be brave! Take a chance and cut into the fabric.They are manufacturing fabric at a furious rate.You won’t run out.
  • Make design elements as a unit (like the house above) so you can try placing them in different places on background fabric.
  • Build your design on a Teflon sheet, silicone release paper, or parchment paper. This gives you the option of changing the size and shape of the design before applying it to batting.
  • If you don’t like how the design is turning out, set it aside and start another design. Art making takes practice and fusing lets you make lots of art work.
  • For a successful quilt, follow the rules from the Chicago School of Fusing.

 I hope you’ve enjoyed these three methods of designing art quilts. Now get out there and make something!