This detail of my Natural Gardening project shows a favorite way of making artwork. It is a combination of using a pre-cut felt shape with free-form hand embroidery. There is a little bit of structure (using pre-cut shapes on a background fabric) and a whole lot of making-it-up-as-you-go-along stitchery. Improvisational stitchery means making all sorts of arty decisions. Yum!
I recently read an article on NPR which included this quote by Girija Kaimal, professor at Drexel University and researcher in art therapy: “Anything that engages your creative mind — the ability to make connections between unrelated things and imagine new ways to communicate — is good for you.”
Thank heavens art making is good for you cause that diet isn’t working for me.
What’s engaging my creative mind as I stitch? First, what basic stitch is needed to fasten the shape to the background felt? Then, what’s the best size and color of thread to use. And finally, what stitches will enhance the fabric shape and create a wonderful design?
Here’s the solution to my creative puzzle and the order of stitching the pink flower above to a dark green background:
Windy City #18 by Laura Wasilowski
Yippee! Now that the hand embroidery on Windy City #18 is complete, it is bound and machine quilted. For this little fused art quilt (14″ x 9.5″) I’ve used a pillowcase binding method.
Then the quilt is machine quilted using a titanium or chrome coated embroidery needle and free-motion stitching. To add free-motion stitching, drop the feed dogs on the machine and guide the needle around all the organic shapes in the design while moving the quilt.
To compare, here is the quilt before stitching. See what a difference a stitch makes? The hand embroidery and machine stitchery bring the quilt to life. This is what sets quilting aside from other art forms: the joining of surfaces with a stitch. It’s all about the stitch!
Don’t tell anyone, but I’m not quite prepared for a new class I’m teaching at the International Quilt Festival. My new class, Libby’s Leaves, premiers on Friday, November 1.
It’s not like I haven’t been thinking a lot about how to present the class. It’s just that I don’t have is a finished quilt to show the class.
Libby’s Leaves by Laura Wasilowski
See the original Libby’s Leaves quilt (above) that the class is based upon has been sold. And, making it a rule to never replicate a quilt design, I have to invent a new design in the spirit of the original. It also has to be something that illustrates the construction methods of the design. Plus I need step-outs and an outline for teaching the class.
So as I scramble to catch up with my ambitions, I ask that you wish me luck.
And again, please don’t tell anyone.
Pretty Planet Birdhouses #1 by Laura Wasilowski
I’m back from visiting the Racine Lighthouse Quilters Guild in Wisconsin where I was introduced to an amazing treat- kringle. (Not sure what kringle is? Just google kringle near me. It will be worth it!) Now that I’m back in the studio my time is dedicated to finishing up a few little wall quilts. That’s code for “binding”.
Pretty Planet #17 by Laura Wasilowski
There are 4 binding methods with tutorials that you can check out on my website. My favorite is the Pillowcase binding like those used in the above quilts. It’s a neat way to finish up your quilt top and is easy to do. And my reward for completing the little quilt tops? Why kringle, of course! Join me?
We all know this when using fusible web: too much heat from the iron for too long will kill fusible web on fabric. Repeated exposure to a hot iron actually burns the glue into the fabric. The fabric shapes get stiff and soon pop off like a rubber band in flight.
Don’t do it!
Instead use a technique called “fuse tacking” when adding fused shapes to your background fabric. Fuse tacking is exposing the glue to a little heat from the iron for a short amount of time, about 3 seconds.
Also, cover your design with silicone release paper or parchment paper when fuse tacking. This protects your iron and keeps shapes place upside down from sticking to the iron. (Here are more tips on fusing .)
However, I do give you permission to kill glue on your ironing board. The glue loves the iron and wants to melt all over it. If you get fusible web on your ironing surface, the iron will melt it and put it on your beautiful quilt top.
Here’s how to kill your glue: Place silicone release paper or parchment paper on the offending splotch of glue. Use a hot iron and iron the glue through the paper a good 20 – 30 seconds. This will melt the glue into the ironing board fabric and it will no longer be attracted to your hot iron.
Little Landscape #23 by Laura Wasilowski
It’s summer time! Time to enjoy free time in my cool, neat, and clean studio.
OK, 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?