Improvising Designs with a Die Cutter #2

Now that all the fused shapes are cut using the Daisy die from Accuquilt, I’m ready to make my improvised quilt design.


Next Steps in Using a Die Cutter to Make an Improvised Quilt

  • Select a background square to build on. This pickle juice green square will nicely contrast with the rich colors of the shapes I’ve cut with the die cutter.
  • Trim the square with a pinking blade in the rotary cutter or a pinking shears.
  • Place the square on a large piece of silicone release paper (the paper that comes with fusible web). There is glue on the pre-fused fabric and you don’t want to iron it onto the ironing board and curse the glue.
  • You could also use a Teflon sheet or parchment paper.
  • Add shapes to the background fabric playing with placement and spacing.
  • Try placing elements at an angle to give the piece energy and action.
  • Merge shapes to create variety and interest. Petals from the Daisy die flow into the negative (or cutaway) fabric cut to fit around the petals. The result is two little hills emerging on my background fabric.
  • Consider other fabrics waiting in the wings. What role do they play in your improvised design?
  • Slice bravely into your fabrics to create new shapes. Improvising means taking a chance. You may make a mess of things or you may discover something new.
  • Play with the fabric shapes arranging and rearranging them on the background.
  • Remember to repeat colors to carry the eye around the piece.

Ideas for Completing the Design

Quiet Morning #2 by Laura Wasilowski

After completing my composition, it is lifted off the release paper and centered on the light blue background fabric. Framing the piece this way gives the design space to be enjoyed.

A few other ideas improve this stylized landscape. Adding a third element, like the sun, balances it out. Hand embroidery adds smaller details and machine quilting adds texture to the framing fabric.

I hope you enjoy working with pre-cut fabric shapes and find improvising with them fun and thrilling too. Be brave! You can do it!

Improvising Designs with a Die Cutter #1

Today’s discovery in my studio is a Go! Baby Fabric Cutter from AccuQuilt. And it reminded me of how much I enjoyed making this little quilt, Quiet Morning #2.

Quiet Morning #2 is living with a collector somewhere in the world today. But in the next few days, I’ll show you how to improvise a quilt design like this with die-cut shapes.

True, I usually free cut fabric shapes when making an improvised quilt. But with a die cutter, it is easy to crank out multiples of perfectly cut shapes.

This die, #55327, has 2 different dot sizes and 2 different petal sizes. Also, a really neat negative shape appears after cutting the fabric. Negative shapes have a lot of potential.

First Steps in Using a Die Cutter to Make an Improvised Quilt

  • Select a die with the shapes you want to use. Dies made for applique like the Accuquilt Daisy Die #55327 I’m using are my favorite.
  • Pre-fuse the fabrics for your design. (See Fusing Tips.) I’m using 1/4 of Rainbow Rich fabric that has all the colors I need for this project.
  • After the fabric cools, remove the paper that comes with the fusible web.
  • Cut 4 rectangles measuring the same size as the die using a decorative rotary cutter blade like a pinking blade or use pinking shears. Why, you ask? Because it looks good and you’ll thank me later.
  • Place the die on the cutter bed with the foam side up.
  • Stack the fabric squares on the die with the glue sides up. This is important: do not stack the fabric with the glue sides together or you will never get them separated. (Ask me how I know!)
  • Put the protective mat on the fabric and crank the die, fabric, and mat through the roller.
  • Separate the shapes and think about how you might use them in an improvised design. I’ll show what I did with mine in a few days.

Stitching on Felt #2

naturalgardening1dThis 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.

naturalgardening1cWhat’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: