Monday, July 27, 2015

Design to Finished Quilt

Peacock quilt design
I usually have a quilt design completed before I start making a quilt, no matter what the size.  But, sometimes, the quilt talks to me and compels me to make a switch in the layout, the fabric, the technique, or the quilting.  Sometimes, a gut feeling that something is wrong leads to the quilt languishing on the design wall or in a box (if I really have a sinking feeling).   Or an inspiration from a class, an article in a magazine,  a piece of fabric, from one of my friends or relatives, or even a YouTube video, makes me want to try out whatever I've learned.  That's the wonderful thing about quilters.  We love to share  and we love to learn new things.  I hope you're getting inside my brain a little bit as I share my processes with you.

I've had an idea of making a peacock quilt for years.  Not a pictorial peacock, but a representational design.  Lots of fabric got bought as I poured over designs.  Then I sketched up my design several times and ended up with the one in the picture.  I only sketch quadrants, so that I can try out several designs on one sketch.

Finally, I started working on it at the end of 2014.   So many people helped me along the way as I kept getting stuck and didn't know what to do next.  A great fabric that fades from dark to light seemed like it wanted to be in this quilt, which made half the stack of fabric that I already had entirely moot (now I have a bigger stash!).  I changed the center from blue to purple to orange and back again, ripping and resewing different centers.  I painstakingly appliqued little tiny pieces for the peacock eyes.

Peacock quilt? by Joanne Adams Roth

But, when I got it all sewed together and started working on the design for the quilting, I started getting a sinking feeling that this quilt was just not going to work.  Especially as a peacock quilt, which is want I really wanted to make.  Everyone else agreed too, and even through I received some excellent feedback, I put the top away to ruminate.

Quilting sketch

Hopefully, it won't be for long.  I'm sure I'll get another design inspiration that will be just the missing link.  That sinking feeling has to fade before this one comes back out of the closet!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Fabrics on Art Quilts

In some of my previous blogs, I've mentioned sheer fabrics and how they've been added to the nest quilts that are part of my mixed media art quilts.  Some of them have one or two layers of organza to create depth and blur the background.  Some have organza or tulle used as a sandwich to trap the mixed media fibers of the nests.  Some have tulle to add darker or lighter features. This art quilt has a different kind of tulle and some other cool fabrics.

A fancy tulle fabric with silver sequins jumped out at me as I was looking for inspiration for a nighttime quilt at JoAnn's Fabric.  I think that fabric speaks to us.  You know how that is - you touch it and stroke it and all kinds of ideas of how to use it jump into your head.  Or it's a color that you love, a texture that appeals to you, and its on sale! You just have to own it!  So this fancy tulle came home with me.
Nest 12 - Moonlit night by Joanne Adams Roth

I already had the background fabric for this nest quilt, which was made by Judy Robertson who creates the loveliest hand dyed fabrics.  I usually have to own one of her pieces for years before I have the nerve to cut into it.  This piece was up on my design wall for a month while I was thinking about another nest quilt.  After a visit by my daughter in law and granddaughters, where they gave me some suggestions, I was off and running.

I picked up a fabulous grunge fabric made by Moda Fabrics at Fiddlesticks Quilt Shop that I used for the moon.  I like the mottled look a lot.

There were 6 different colors of thread used for the quilting.  I change threads both in the top and bottom a lot when quilting an art quilt!

The nest was made with purple ribbon that was fused down with misty fuse.  My first try with this technique gave me mixed results, so I'll have to fine tune that process!  Let me just say that sticky fingers make it hard to place tiny strips of fabric onto the background.

I hope you like the quilt!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Wavy edges in Art Quilts

I made lots of quilts in the good old days of hand piecing, hand quilting, and squaring up quilts to get nice straight edges.  I still enter competitions where wavy and curvy edges are a reason to get a ding from the judges.  They write "Edges should be straight"!  

Ah, but on art quilts, you have the freedom to do anything you want.  So, now after I square up my art quilts, I take the rotary cutter and purposely make wavy and curvy edges.  This is so freeing!

Some of the arts quilts in my nest series have traditional binding; some have facings; and some have couched fibers on the edges.  All of these edge finishing techniques work on curvy and wavy edges.   Jean Wells wrote excellent directions in her book, "Journey to Inspired Art Quilting", about how to add 1/8" grosgrain ribbon to the edges of an art quilt before you add the facing.   This is great advice, and I encourage all of you to do this to stabilize the edges on wavy and curvy art quilts. 

Just one thing that I have discovered - for me anyway - is to keep the corners pretty close to 90 degrees.  It's so much easier to turn the facings and make them look nice. 

Nest #10 "Sheer Bird" by Joanne Adams Roth

The bird and nest were drawn by Esterita Austin during a workshop on using sheer fabric. 


Monday, July 6, 2015

Layered Texture in Art Quilts

While contemplating another nest quilt, I started thinking about hummingbird nests and how they are made.  The birds gather silk threads from spider webs and weave this around fluffy fibers; then finish it all off with a layer of lichen to camouflage the nest.   The trick for this art quilt in my series about nests was to figure out how to accomplish the same layered texture with mixed media fibers.

I knew that the goat hair given to me by a friend was close to the "fluffiness" feeling I wanted to achieve.  I found wool roving (from a vendor at our Clark County Quilters show) and felt that it would be another good source of fluffiness.  When I shredded some cotton batting and added it to the mix, I felt that the texture was just right.  "More is better" is my motto when I add components to the mixed media nests, so I piled on some string, shredded hand dyed fabric, and lichen.  Yes, real lichen that I collected on a hike.

The nest was layered several times, sandwiched between layers of tulle, and then sewed down with silk thread.  

Layered texture nest

My granddaughters helped me pick the background fabric, and agreed that a layer of organza blurred the background and made the hummingbird and its nest "pop".    I hope  you like it!

"Hummingbird" by Joanne Adams Roth