Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Extending Skills

Recently I taught a workshop showing an enthusiastic groups of ladies how to construct my Retro Runner design. This is it here - 

Retro Runner - Art Gallery fabrics
It's a fascinating way of putting together a small design (or block). I call it puzzle appliqué. The pattern is traced onto freezer paper as a whole rather than individual pieces. E
ach pattern piece is cut out of fabric and then overlaying them back together, stitching through the layers. After making this runner seven times already, I am well practiced with the technique.

One of my lovely students, Norma, working on her runner
I came to thinking a few weeks ago, how and where could this technique be used (I have enough runners, lol). The thinking cap went on and then I remembered some art work one of our daughter's had produced years ago when she was at school. I'd always loved the piece, so went to the art file and dragged it out. I grew a little excited when I realised this art work could be easily reproduced in fabrics using this puzzle technique. I thought to myself 'lets do this', then another thought 'its not my design', ugh! So to rectify the problem, onto message and a quick note to daughter asking permission for use; granted instantly (I'm a stickler for copyright laws). 

With a titch of paint work and a stroke or two of the intense pencil, I quickly reproduced the markings on the fabrics. This art piece was first produced as a lino print, so there's a few places where either the lino cuts left a wonderful streaky grain or the ink on the roller was a little too thin and this created some interesting visual texture. Paint and pencil heat set, and off to the sewing machine to play. Here is the result - 

Realising the adaptability of the technique, I dragged out a few of my older sketch books. I am soooo glad I use a design/sketch book. So many ideas have spent just a fleeting moment in my mind but long enough to get a visual down onto paper. I had this idea for a large art quilt, but here it is in a space less than the size of a placemat. I also love the fact that I can use anything I draw when and how I want - such freedom when it's your own.
Anyway, I set to work and made fabric selections. Not enough texture, so began adding machine stitching on several of the fabric pieces.

Wave stitch on batik
Close up of other machine stitches used
It's amazing how a few stitches can have such a dramatic effect on the surface of the fabrics. The appliqué motif had been pieced and here I'm auditioning a few background options.

I guess the trick to most creative pieces like, this is working out the construction. What goes where, and when, and how to do it. This all comes with practice, just getting in there and having a go. Here's the finished piece -

'Pod' 12" x 14"
In summing up the process, I'll use it a lot more. I think there's two huge advantages to it; 
1. it guarantees perfect piecing, and 2. it reduces bulky layers so you're only working through one or two layers of fabric and this makes quilting so much easier.