Dare I Do This?

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Painting the Town #3 (before) by Laura Wasilowski

This quilt is close to 2 years old. But it feels unfinished; it needs a little push into the next level. And see the background fabric? That’s a drop cloth, a white piece of fabric that soaked up years of paint and dye.

paintingthetown3eThat drop cloth fabric represents a history of various surface design projects in my studio over the years. I’m rather attached to it. And I don’t want to fiddle with it. But fiddle I must. Tomorrow I’ll show you what I’ve dared to do. Or at least it feels daring to me!

Stitching Pinked Edges #3

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Vase on the Table #3 by Laura Wasilowski

The hand embroidery on this little quilt gave me a few challenges. See the fabric edges cut with the pinking blade? So far you’ve seen how to stitch the decorative edges found on the wallpaper stripes and flower tips. But how to stitch the yellow band on the vase and the top edge of the tablecloth?

vaseontable3dWhy with the Fly Stitch, of course! (I admit it took me a long time to realize that the Fly Stitch was the solution.) The yellow band on the vase measures about 1/2″ wide and is stitched with a variegated size 12 thread.  Each little pinked edge is concealed with a strand of thread. You can see the process here.

vaseontable3bThe top edge of the tablecloth is also completed with the Fly Stitch. In this version, the center stitch is elongated into the fabric to make a Y shape. Thus proving that there is an embroidery stitch that can be adapted to any fabric shape you make.

This is what I like about free-form hand embroidery. It challenges you to discover inventive ways to mark fabric. It’s a creative endeavor using simple tools at a slow pace. It’s a quiet expression of art.

Stitching Pinked Edges #2

vase2This flower looks rather forlorn, doesn’t it? But you’ll note that the tips of the flowers are rather jaunty. That’s because they are cut with a pinking blade used on a standard 45mm rotary cutter handle. (If you want to see how similar flower petals are made with this blade, check this out.)

vase3To give our flower a little flair, long embroidery stitches travel from the peaks and valleys of the pinked edge to the center of the flower. This is done with the Sunflowers colorway in a size 8 pearl cotton thread. That same thread couches down the long strands of thread holding them in place.

vaseontable3c French knots added to the pinked flower tips dress up our bloomers even more and our forlorn flower is now fabulous!

More tips on adding hand embroidery to pinked fabric edges coming up soon!

Stitching Pinked Edges #1

vaseontable3aReady for a fabric cutting challenge? With a little forethought, you can cut fused fabrics with decorative rotary cutter blades and create perfect fabric shapes for hand embroidery. Here’s a good example of planning ahead: the 1/4″ green stripes in this wallpaper fabric are cut with a pinking blade.

Each cut of the blade is off set with the previous cut making a “rick rack” edge on the fabric strip. Stitching across the strip with a size 12 thread creates a pleasing diagonal stripe across the fabric.

vaseontable3eYou can see that I didn’t always align the blade on the fabric consistently when cutting the strips. So some of the stitching appears off on the wall paper. My excuse: This is hand work. Made by human hands not a machine.

Stay tuned for more stitching of pinked edges tomorrow!

How to Stitch Decorative Edges

decblades1A favorite tool for those making fused art quilts is the decorative rotary cutter blade. Decorative blades come in a variety of shapes (pinking, wave, scallop) that add a delightfully embellished edge to fused fabrics. Decorative edges add movement and interest to quilt designs.

But how do you add hand embroidery to that decorative edge?

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Vase on the Table #3 by Laura Wasilowski

This quilt shows a variety of ways to add hand stitchery to the pinked edge. You can  see fabric cut with a pinking blade in the wallpaper stripes, flowers, vase, and top edge of the table cloth. Each fabric shape is stitched in a different way. Over the next few days I’ll show you how to hand embroider the pinked edge. Please stay tuned!

What’s New at the Museum?

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Wall hanging by Constance and Maxwell Armfield.

I am so fortunate to live near the Art Institute of Chicago. And it was during a recent trip to view newly acquired items for the Textile Department that I found this embroidery on display. The wall hanging by Constance and Maxwell Armfield was made in 1916. The English husband and wife team were influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement and created this embroidery together during a visit to the United States.

armfield2It features the progress of two fashionable women through a forest while a goat tags along. Isn’t this a fun design? It’s so wonderful to think that you can make imagery of anything with needle and thread.