Spring Blooms #3 by Laura Wasilowski
It’s so great to be back in the studio! You may remember my Accidental Artist series from last month where I made this quilt, Spring Blooms #3. The quilt began as a large collage background with free-cut design elements on top and lots of hand embroidery added too.
Now I’d like to show you another method I have of creating fused quilt designs in an improvisational manner. This time I’m making a center vignette and then slipping a large background fabric behind it.
Fused fabric scraps from my stash including a fabulous red and blue woven collage.
It’s a different approach but still begins the same way: improvising with fused scraps from my fabric stash. Isn’t that woven collage rescued from a previous project fun? Can’t wait to get started!
Sometimes you have to rein in your creativity. Give yourself boundaries. Take a deep creative breath. To curb my overactive impulses, I decided to select a theme for the artwork I’m making this week. The theme? Why flowers of course!
You’ll see several pre-fused collages that have been free-cut into shapes for the design. These collages are left overs from other projects long forgotten and finding new life here. Note the woven collage for the flowers, patterned collage for the stems, and tiles collage for the pot.
I love my job! Or should I say, I love to play at my job. This week I’m in the studio making small art quilts from fused fabric scraps. Improvising with this basket of left over collages could prove interesting. Imagine the possibilities! What should I make?
My improvised quilt design is ready to steam set on to the non-scrim side of the batting. I’ve placed a cloth on top of the quilt to protect it from my filthy iron. Here are some other tips for preparing your quilt for hand embroidery:
- As you construct the quilt top, just fuse-tack elements into place for a few seconds. If you expose fusible web to too much heat from an iron for too long it makes the fabric really stiff and burns the glue into the fabric. It also makes it difficult to hand stitch.
- Fabric with fusible web must be steam set for 10 seconds to make it permanent and to make it easier to stitch through.
- Test the batting first before applying your quilt to the batt. Make sure the batting is easy to hand stitch and doesn’t beard with stitching.
- Place the quilt top on to the non-scrim side of the batting. Fusing to the scrim side of the batt may ripple the quilt and no amount of stitching will fix it.
- Use a thimble when stitching and protect your fingers.
- Use an embroidery needle that is appropriate for the thread. See the embroidery needle chart to match your thread with your needle.
- Skim the needle and thread under the fabric to create your stitches. You are adding embellishing stitches, not quilting stitches through multiple layers.
- Have good lighting. You need to see what you’re doing.
And finally, relax and enjoy the process. It will change your art!
The design for my red house quilt is almost done. It started with the fused background fabric and cut-away fabric shapes saved from other quilt designs. Some of the fused fabric scraps were used as they were found. But many were cut to shape from the scraps. Here are some tips on free-cutting fabric shapes:
- Use sharp scissors. Dull scissors will fray the fabric and you want nice, clean edges.
- Don’t mark the fabric just cut into it directly with the scissors. Everyone cuts fabric shapes differently and this is how you develop your own style. It may help to think of the fabric as if it were a piece of paper.
- Don’t worry about wasting the fused fabric. You can always used the left over scraps for the next quilt. That’s the beauty of fusing!
Give it a try! Improvising with fused fabric scraps is a great way to play with color and shape. It also helps you develop your art making skills and have fun at the same time.
Want to make an improvised quilt design? Then start with a background fabric. Gather a bunch of fused fabric scraps from your stash, pull out your sharp scissors, and let the fun begin!
Here’s why starting with a background fabric and scraps is helpful when you make an improvised quilt design:
- The way you position the background fabric determines if your design has a vertical or horizontal orientation.
- The size of the background tells you how big the elements are in the design.
- The color of the background fabric helps you select colors for your design elements. (Think contrast in value or hue.)
- A plethora of fused fabric scraps trigger design ideas for the background.The curved green and blue fabric scraps suggested a landscape quilt.
Grab a background fabric and give it a try. Looks like I’m making a red house on a hill. Who knew?