Monday, June 30, 2014

Delicate Arch - Phase 2

So now that the pieces were placed on my Delicate Arch quilt, I needed to sew them down.  I used clear thread, so that it would not interfere with the quilting, threadwork and paint that are still to come.
My fears that the pinned pieces would pucker were fully justified, but actually easily dealt with.  I switched from my usual non-hopping quilting foot to a hopping  foot .  This prevented a wall of fabric from developing as I moved across the piece. Except for the independent clouds, I had to work in the same sequence as I had placed the pieces – from back to front.  I removed the rocks and arch from the foreground.  Then I folded back the fabric covering the furthest back piece, and thoroughly starched and pressed the area.  I only sewed the exposed edges.  If the piece extended all the way across the quilt, I would start at one edge and finish at the other.  Most pieces met under the arch, so I would start there and work to an edge.  When one layer was done, I would fold the overlapping piece down and fold back the piece that was on top of it, starch press and then sew.  I repeated this until all the background had been sewn down.  While quilting I made sure I kept things smooth, but avoided stretching the fabric.
Then I replaced the arch.  I also decided to add an extra layer of batting under it and the rocks.  I had trouble getting the arch the same way – this is certainly an argument for having the clear overlay rather than using the overhead projector, which I had already moved.  I ended up having to cut a new piece, because I had manipulated one piece to death.  I also modified a few pieces and added a lighter colored piece at the very top. Then I sewed it down and trimmed the extra batting to the sewing line.
After this I added the fabric backing.  I thought I was ready to start the embellishing and quilting.  However, when I compared what I had to how the arch was placed before, I realized the arch was now about an inch lower.  The delicate nature of the arch and the airiness of the sky seen through the arch were lost.  DAMN.  I considered removing the arch and placing it higher, but quickly realized that ripping out all that stitching was probably going to distort or destroy the fabric.  So I decided to reduce the size of the background landscape pieces behind it: fewer stitches to remove and cutting the ragged edges that resulted.  In the end, I think doing this gave the background a greater feeling of distance than it had before.
I am happy with what I have.  Now I need to figure out exactly what I am going to do next.  Stay tuned.

The original pinned piece before sewing

Immediately after sewing, arch seems too low and heavy.

After reducing some of the background to put more air under the arch

Friday, June 27, 2014

Freezer Paper Raw Edge Appliqué

It’s been a while since I have tackled an art quilt.  I have been doing small journal page style pieces, but nothing large.  Mainly exploring and practicing with different techniques.

Some of my journal pages.

Last month we took a trip through the beautiful national parks in southern Utah.  I came back inspired and after much consideration, I selected to interpret Delicate Arch at sunset.
I have experimented with different techniques in every art quilt I have made so far.  I am searching for something that is not too tedious – it takes away from the fun, creative part of the process – but still allows me the control I am seeking.

What I find most tedious are the multiple tracings required, especially if using iron on fusible.  Besides the drawing of the subject, you need the reverse to trace onto the fusible.  Each tracing is slightly different from the original.  Fusible also leaves a residue that will degrade the fabric over time (see this research) and I find it stiffens the fabric enough so that the needle sort of clunks through it.  I think it has its place, but I would rather minimize its use.

Some artists like Ellen Lindner free hand a lot of their stuff.  I do a bit of that, especially when filling in details or the like, but I am not good enough to render a known subject like Delicate Arch sufficiently well to have it remain acceptably recognizable.

I did a few quilts using Ann Holme’s “No Sewing Until YouQuilt It” freezer paper approach.  Works well, but I feel I can’t do the finer details with turned edge like I want and there’s no room to make changes on the fly.

So this time I am trying something that sort of combines some things I have done. 
  •   I first print out a full color picture of what I want to interpret.
  •   I slide that into a clear sheet protector you can buy at any office supply place.
  • I outline the parts that will be fabric pieces.  I try to not get too detailed. I will add fine details as I go or they will be added with thread and/or paint/colored pencils.
Original print and the clear tracing - 8.5 by 11.

  •   I then take the print out of the sleeve.  The drawing on the sheet protector needs to be made full size for the master template.  You can take it to a copy shop to have this done or print out sections of the image and tape it together.
    •   I happen to have an overhead projector.  They are expensive, but I use it for a variety of things, including as a light table and when I teach classes.  I project the image onto my design wall, onto which I have pinned paper the size I want the project to be.  I then trace the image onto it.  I also leave the projector set up for when I place my fabric onto the background, to check placement.  Otherwise you need a large piece of clear material, like vinyl or sturdy plastic (think paint drip sheets) onto which the full sized image has been traced.
  • I start with a piece of thin batting and a piece of white fabric or muslin cut several inches larger than the final size.  If the background is sky, I tend to paint that  directly on the white fabric (I did in this case).  I pin the batting and fabric piece to my design wall so that the image projects correctly on the piece.  If you are using the clear plastic, this is pinned at the top over the background, so you can lift it for fabric placement.
  •    I place the master tracing on a large table and decide the sequence.  You always start from the back and work to the front and when possible place darker fabrics over lighter ones.  I number the pieces in their order.  
Full sized master with numbers drawn.  I started out outlining the pieces with marker, but found it unnecessary. I stayed with pencil to get a better tracing.

  • I trace each piece onto freezer paper and label it with its number.  I decide which edge will show when tracing (solid line) and which edges need to be cut larger to fit under the next piece to be cut (dashed line).  Once I have selected the fabric, I iron the template on and cut the piece out.  I peel off the template and position the fabric onto the background and pin it through the background and into the batting, but not into the design wall, using the projected image (or the clear overlay) as a guide to placement.  I keep doing this until all the pieces have been placed.  I make changes along the way.

Freezer paper template.  Note that the left edge extends into the next piece - this will be underneath that fabric.

The beauty of this is that if I don’t like a fabric, I can take it out.  I have the template and can iron it onto another piece of fabric.  I ended up completely changing the background – I felt that what I had planned interfered with the focus of the piece, the arch.  I simplified what was in the background and subdued the colors and details.  The arch itself I tried to render fairly faithfully.  Pinning allows changes to be easily made and you are not endlessly tracing and ironing on fusible.  Each of those tracings would be slightly different. 

The next big question, is how easy it will be to sew the pieces down without ending up with puckers, etc.? I have done something like this before with good results. I’ll use clear thread for most of this part.  The arch will be partially peeled back so I can sew continuous lines across the background pieces. After getting the pieces attached, I will complete layering the quilt and do the quilting and embellishing. I am deciding whether I will use a second layer of batting – I may under the arch and the foreground rock for a more 3D effect. I’ll post those results hopefully soon.

Ready for sewing down.