Year of the Stitch: A Scary Tree

The next Year of the Stitch candidate is ready for needle and thread. Sure, the tree looks a little threatening like it could fall on the house at any time. But maybe it’s just wants to be friends with the house? Anyway, the stitching must begin!

Ignoring the imminent danger of a falling tree, our jolly little house gets the full stitch treatment. Blanket stitches surround the door, and shore up the rooftop and sides of the house so breakage will be at a minimum. And note that stem stitches securely anchor the base of the house into place. So take that tree!

One more thing. Just in case there is a wind storm, the windows are outlined with straight stitches holding them in place and protecting all from falling branches. Whew! I think we are safe for now.

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!

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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.

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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

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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.