Frantically Designing a New Class

libbysleavesnumber3detailbDon’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.

libbysleaves2a

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.

A Slick Binding for Your Quilt

prettyplanetbirdhouses1

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”.

prettyplanet17

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?

How to Murder Your Glue with Kindness

fusingfabric3We 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!

fusingfabric5Instead 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.

ironcleaning4Also, 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.

Press on!

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?

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!

3 Ways to Design Art Work: Variations on a Theme

libbysleaves2a

Libby’s Leaves #2 by Laura Wasilowski

My second method of creating original art quilts is called Variations on a Theme. This way of designing artwork comes in handy when my brain needs a little kick start. Like a jolt of coffee in the morning, it spurs me into the “create zone” and I’m off and running.  

Please note that all of the examples used here are made with pre-fused fabric. (You can learn more about fusing here.) But you can apply the same methods to a pieced quilt as well.

variations1Variations on a Theme

The first step in creating this type of design is to select a theme or motif and create variations on that theme. The motif in our example is a unit or block with a square shape set on a rectangular shape. As with any design method, there are pros and cons when selecting the Variation on a Theme method.

Pros:  Repeating a motif lends rhythm and balance to your design. It gives the design a sense of unity.

Cons: The design may feel formulaic and static. By restricting yourself to one motif, the design may feel static and uninteresting. The key to making it interesting is to bravely change up the motif. Slice that fabric!

variations2

Variations on a Theme by Laura Wasilowski

Here are some tips when creating your variation on a theme:

  • Start with a simple motif block. You’ll be repeating this block several times and an easy-to-make shape aids the process.
  • Explore ways to slice, flip, skew, enlarge, and diminish the motif block.
  • Determine a focal point or place where the eye first rests on the design. The rule of thirds applies here. Divide your design into thirds vertically and horizontally. The juncture of those grids lines is good destination for a focal point. The focal point may be a change up in size or spot of high color contrast.
  • Join the motif blocks together so they read as a unit. Note that the spaces between motif blocks (negative spaces) can be just as interesting as the blocks themselves.

Stay tuned for our third and final method of designing artwork: Design Triggers.