I was enjoying the posts over at The Snarky Quilter’s (SQ) blog where SQ and a friend share their steps and early results following Mickey Lawler’s techniques to create some painted fabric.
They made some neat fabric pieces and a little discussion ensued regarding painted fabric. SQ commented that painters working in oil also paint on fabric. Some of us think of painting on fabric as a “newish” technique. I hadn’t really thought of it as she did. I have been painting on fabric for a long time and continue to explore. SQ’s comment got me thinking though… As fiber and quilt artists who paint on fabric, we have a special consideration: we want to create layers but we know that needles are going to penetrate the surface, and that needles through painted fabric leave holes!
That is one of the biggest advantages of dyeing versus painting; dye changes the hand of the fabric very little, if at all, and usually less than paint. Color washes are probably the best way to achieve layers on fabric that will be stitched without causing a thick layer of paint (and big holes!). Another alternative – Stitch or quilt and then paint.
I dye a little and really admire artists who dye their own fabric but I will stick to using paint. I just love it. Some might say it’s a control thing! I’m okay with that!
Many years ago someone asked me “What do you do?” I answered “I make miniature landscapes.” In those days that was where my focus was. His response surprised me… He said “You do Bonsai?!” I said “Oh, no, I work in fabric.” and he replied with a disappointed “Oh” and that was the end of it for him.
Had he been interested I would have told him… (In a breathless run on sentence) “Why would I design beautiful tiny plant scapes and study the history that goes back to the 6th century when I can create a little landscape today and recreate the exact landscape tomorrow, making it look totally different, using different fabrics, that only need to be trimmed once and they don’t require water and almost anyone can be taught to make one and it doesn’t take a life time to learn and, and, and… Uh-oh, my passion is showing!
For the record – I love Bonsai and admire anyone who devotes their time and skill to designing and growing them. Thanks to Brian DeCarlo for allowing me to share his lovely Bonsai Islands video – Bonsai Art. What are you passionate about and do you show it?
We have been celebrating my husband, father of my sons today, but I’m also missing my own dad. He spent his professional life inside helicopter and jet engines but when he had leisure time he could be found in his workshop designing and making wonderful things…
My dad made this table for me, at my request, so that I would be able to show off quilt blocks made by his mother.
I remember when I was making this landscape and having a hard time finding fabric for the water and sand (it was before I painted fabric), my dad was giving me his artistic opinion and when I finally got it he gave me an excited “Yes!” Later I gifted the landscape to my parents and he made a beautiful frame for it. If I ever find the photo of it framed (or remember who was given the piece after my mom’s death) I’ll post it.
I was very fortunate to have an artistic father and to have parents who were supportive of my art.
This is the garden quilt I’ve been working on. It was ready for blocking, so I decided to make this short video explaining how I did it. Now I’m adding the borders and a bit more thread work then I’ll block it again… talk about that in a future video.
Normally I block a quilt, trim it to the edge of the quilt top, and add the binding, but as you will hear in the video this quilt will have borders added after the first blocking. Do you block your quilts?
Here is the quilt up on the design wall, with the side borders sewn and the top and bottom borders pinned. Notice the seam where the sky and green meet, that may end up having leaves over it. I had to do some creative piecing of the borders and I’m not sure yet how I will address it but I think I’ll probably quilt vertically in and near the joined seams. I need to add bird legs and feet too, I may do that with hand embroidery. We will see.
I’m videoing more in the studio and so I needed to rearrange the space, again. This turned out to be great. Besides cleaning up those sneaky dust bunnies I ended up moving existing (Ikea) cabinets to the sides of my HQ Sweet Sixteen.
They are the perfect height and extend the surface about two feet, eliminating much of the drag on larger quilt projects. But it also meant I no longer had the small drawer unit at my right. No problem, just stick the three items most used on the outside of the wooden cabinet that is now on my right – The little screw driver for the bobbin tension, clipping scissors and a bag for thread bits. I’m back in business!
I’m quilting an art quilt now that has over fifteen different thread colors (four different brands) and I have gotten really fast at changing the thread; top and bobbin, and adjusting the tension. Did you notice the little drawing by the gloves in the photo (in image 2)? Even though I have adjusted the top thread tension assembly many times, I still seem to have a brain burp when it comes to which way to turn the dial. When I bought my machine the wonderful sales person draw this little picture in my manual for quick reference. Most people would probably have it memorized but a quick glance at this little drawing works for me.
How have you made your sewing or quilting space work for you?
This is our ten year old kitty, Kona in her box (which measures 8” x 11”). The box is smack dab in the center of our so called “great” room, on a small area rug. Despite the fact that she has cat beds on just about every piece of furniture in the house she has decided this is her box, her bed, her raft! So it remains there to be kicked and tripped over, every time one of us walk through the room.
Today when I revisited this photo I noticed all the texture: the cardboard, the fur, the weave of the rug and the pattern, even the tiny corner of wood… all so tactile and inspiring to a fiber artist.
Many of us have made quilts inspired by our cats. When I think of cats and quilts I can’t help but think of quilt artist Ann Fahl ‘s quilts featuring her cat Oreo.
Ann Fahl writes “Summer Sanctuary is a quilt when first completed didn’t include Oreo. She was added later!”
Another of Ann’s quilts – Under the Giant Coneflowers, is one of my favorites. Ann’s book, A Black and White Tale, includes all of her cat pieces. I hope you will visit Ann Fahl’s website and her blog to read more about her books and to see her incredible body of work.
I own two of Ann Fahl’s free-motion thread play books and have admired her work for a long time. I thank Ann for giving me permission to share her art.
If you haven’t free-motion quilted or thread painted but wanted to, I encourage you to just jump in! I have had to get over a lot of hang ups because I came from the “hand quilting, perfect stitches, and needle turn applique” mindset. Working Playing with my Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen machine and thread has been some of the most fun I have had in my fiber art career. But this can be done on a home sewing machine too!
I’m so fortunate that I get to do this and call it “work!” I’m about to quilt the sky on this commissioned piece, after yards and yards of thread and many hours of free-motion quilting the flowers and foliage. Here are a couple detail photos… The sky and most of the flower fabric were painted by me and the butterfly (and birds which don’t show in these photos) will be a lesson I hope to be giving on Curious.com/fiberdesignsbyann in the future.
I re-purposed several bookcases when I moved my studio back into my home. Bookcases are great because they are narrow and so don’t take up a lot of floor space (mine even have doors) but most standard storage boxes either don’t fit or don’t use the shelf space fully. My solution was to design and construct boxes to fit the way I wanted to use the space. The boxes are good for storing fat quarters but most any size yardage can be folded to fit. They can be stacked two high and they have little windows so I can quickly see what color is in each box. They can be easily pull out when I want to go on a serious fabric search.
These boxes fit a minimum 22″ wide shelf. I have them in a 33″ wide bookcase so I have room along the side of the boxes for a few other items. I’m planning to make some more boxes to fit in a 16″ x 11″ bookcase which is filled (and a mess) with landscape and painted sky fabric. They could be made just about any size, though, I would not go bigger than the one in my lessons (viewable on Curious.com and – YouTube) because foam board and hot glue are only so strong and fabric can get heavy!
If this helps you better organize your fabric I would love to hear about it… and remember these boxes could be used to hold other items too.
Working with fabric or fiber most of her life Ann continues to explore the possibilities. Ann’s art quilts have been published and have traveled Internationally. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows. Ann has presented lectures/talks and trunk shows, has taught and on occasion still teaches live classes. She enjoys making videos lessons and demos for her YouTube channel in hopes of encouraging others to give quilting, fiber art, and mixed media a try. Ann admires knitting and crochet, and though she can’t knit and can only crochet a chain stitch, she’s discovered other ways to use yarn!