Archive for the ‘Art Quilt Work Group’ Category

I’ve spent the last month working on the leaves for my cottonwood tree. I raided all my scraps, and combed them for my greens, and cut the greens into hundreds of little pieces.

IMG_7948I then traced my tree trunk onto solvy, and then sandwiched my fabric leaves between two pieces of solvy.

IMG_7949I pinned the layers together in many places as possible, to help secure the fabric leaves and keep them from moving or shifting.

IMG_7951I wanted to free motion quilt the leaves, so played around with sketching a few designs I wanted to quilt the leaves with. I settled on a type of feather leafing design.

IMG_7953I drew the design onto the solvy with marker, and then quilted the lines I drew.

IMG_7955After rinsing the solvy off, I was left with leaves and stitches. I thought it looked quite nice on the tree branch!

IMG_7968After my test run, I went to work on the whole tree. The solvy is quite easily torn, and soon I was super frustrated as every few minutes it would tear. I finally found a couple of solutions, dropping my feed dogs so they wouldn’t tear the underside, and double layering the solvy. After using these two tricks, the whole thing stitched up easy.

IMG_7970With our monthly March meeting approaching, I also worked on creating my quilt sandwich, and started playing around with quilting bushes.

IMG_7976At our meeting today, it was thrilling to see all the panels come together. Here’s my panel next to Cathy’s. The tree is really coming together!

IMG_7973I love the detail Penny added to hers, flowers, rocks, and a little rabbit!

IMG_7974More detail coming together.

IMG_7975Bushes! So many different techniques and colors.

IMG_7979And the entire quilt! Stunning. Except. For. My. Panel.

I’m at a complete loss – how did I completely miss pick the right green color! My panel stands out like a sore thumb. We discussed the light shade of my panel. We came up with a few solutions, that could help, to bring elements from Cathy’s onto my panel.

IMG_7980But I’ve known this for awhile, and it just isn’t going away. I don’t want everyone’s reactions who see the quilt to always be, what’s up with the light panel on the left? I think I may need to recognize the mistake, and despite the work it might take, start all over. After all, I dyed lots of green fabric last weekend (pictures to come!), so it was like I knew this was coming. And it isn’t starting over, I just need to pick new background greens, and transfer all my embellishments on top, and then start quilting.

I also had this moment today, when my ancient Kenmore sewing machine seized up for the millionth time when trying to free motion quilt, I need a new machine! I don’t want or need all the bells and whistles of computer or fancy stitches, just a sturdy machine that can piece and free motion quilt. What kind of machine do you sew on? I’m in the market!

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August is always a frantic time for me in terms of sewing. Our local county fair entry forms are due mid-August, and the fair is Labor Day weekend. Around the time the fair book comes out, I suddenly remember all my in progress quilts, and make plans to finish them all(!) before fair time.

So when August came around, and I started thinking about what I might enter, I resolved to finish my mosaic quilt. I had six finished mosaic blocks, my first geometric block, my tulip collage block, my California poppy block, my purple mountains block, and my two potato stamp blocks.

Each block was already quilted, so I wanted a way to join the blocks without adding another layer of fabric on the back of the quilt that would cover the quilting already there. After much thinking and discussing with fellow quilters, I found this tutorial on line which was exactly what I had imagined in my head.

IMG_6504Here’s the finished view from the back. I used the same pale yellow to connect the pieces on the back as was used for the backing fabric.


For the front, I chose a golden brown colored fabric to connect the blocks. I was trying for a color that would complement the blocks, but not overshadow their color. I think it worked out well!

PicMonkey CollageI used the same lovely brown for the binding as well. Here I tried another new trick I saw somewhere online. Roll the cut and folded binding trips into well, a roll, and put on top of your sewing machine where the thread spool would sit. It is then easy to pull and unwind strips of binding as needed, while the rest sits spooled on the machine waiting.

IMG_6512Unstoppable me, with deadlines looming, I immediately sat down and hand stitched the binding. That done, I sat back, and enjoyed the finished product.

PicMonkey Collage2I am so glad I took the time to put the blocks together, that I had the fair as a motivator, and that the Out of the Box ladies of our Calico Quilt Guild encouraged each other in finishing our blocks. I didn’t make one for every chapter, and one part of me wanted to, but in the end, I am glad I have something finished from the blocks I did make.

IMG_6584Our sunflowers recently bloomed in our small backyard garden, so this evening I took the mosaic quilt out for a setting sun photo shoot.

IMG_6581Look for the mosaic quilt at the Tri-County Fair in three weeks!

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I will freely admit that this chapter stumped me at first. My theme and technique for making my mosaic quilt blocks had become standard, and I wasn’t sure how to use the painting techniques this chapter focused on as a block. I think this is why the book encourages us to work in a theme as part of a series. I was challenged more by thinking about the blocks as part of a whole, and how to incorporate this new technique with my other blocks.

IMG_5332I also received good advice from Cathy, who led us through Chapter 5. When I admitted to my feeling stuck on using this technique, she replied that she found with this exercise it really required her to spend some time experimenting, and then the ideas began to flow more. With that encouragement, I pulled out my paints, laid out some fabric, carved some potatoes in simple mosaic shapes, and began to experiment.

IMG_5334My first try, I squeezed the paints into containers, and dipped the potato stamp into the paint, and then stamped it on the fabric. This way ended up putting too much paint on the stamp, and when it got to the fabric, it spread. I was hoping for a more crisp look to my stamps. Next I tried painting the paint onto the potato stamp, which took a little bit longer, but allowed me to put just a smidgen of paint on the stamp. It also allowed me to mix up the colors, and have more than one color on a stamp at a time.

IMG_5336Midway through the stamping, I thought it would be have fun to try triangles, so I quickly made a triangle potato stamp. It went quickly, and I went with the flow, not thinking too much about where I put the next stamp or with what colors.

photo1-2The paint instructions suggest letting the fabric and paint dry for 24 hours, then iron to heat set the paint. After doing that, I cut my piece of stamped fabric into two 10×13 squares, and made quilt sandwiches out of them with batting and backing fabric. Note: on one of the quilt block sandwiches, I put the backing fabric, then the batting, then a background color, then the stamped fabric. Can’t wait to show you more about this below!


The stitching went quickly. For one block, I chose yellow thread for all the mosaic pieces. For the second block, I matched the thread color to the mosaic color.

IMG_5337And my before shot. Two blocks, stitched, ready to have their threads trimmed. After trimming all the threads on both, I took up my scissors again. On the block that has the extra layer of fabric sandwiched in, I cut around each stitched square, exposing the background fabric, in a type of reverse applique technique.

IMG_5338The trimming went quickly, and it was fun to see the color and pattern emerge as I cut around each piece.

IMG_5341Soon, I had a pile of thread and scraps, and two very different blocks.

IMG_5342Now you can see the deep orange color I selected for the background of the reverse applique block, and texture of the mosaic blocks rising above the quilting.


In the other block, the colors blend more subtly, with the quilting emphasizing the mosaic squares but the surface staying smooth.

IMG_5348And here are the two blocks. Which was another revelation I have to thank Cathy for. I’ve been somewhat literal in my following of the books suggestions, making one block for each chapter. At our last meeting, Cathy had many blocks for each chapter. I realized there could be joy in that – why not make more blocks? Play with the techniques more? I don’t just need as many blocks as chapters at the end, I need as many blocks as I can make. They will all then be put together in a quilt. So now, freed from rules, are two blocks.

IMG_5349Both still follow the look and feel of my series quite well, while bringing in their own originality and individualism to make the quilt more varied.


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Last evening, our art quilt group met to discuss and play with paint, chapter 6 in the Art Quilt Workbook.

Since it had been so long since I had joined up, I caught up with seeing other quilters’ completed quilt blocks. Cathy laid hers out on the table, a bright creative mix!

IMG_6703Nela shared her quilt blocks as well – already put together into a quilt!

IMG_6706Chapter 5 highlighted different ways paint could be applied onto fabric to create a variety of looks and effects.

paint, n. A mixture of pigment in liquid form, used as a decorative or protective coating (from Latin pingere: to paint).

Cathy showed us many different techniques and ways to stamp and paint. Here, she carved a potato in a spiral pattern and stamped it on the fabric!


She also showed us a stamp she made from soft rubbery material she bought at the local craft store. I want to make one!

IMG_6716Margaret showed us a goo plate she made, and how you use it to print fabric with designs. Penny wrote down the recipe – can you share it in the comments? It was really interesting, the goo stopped the paint from spreading, and then Margaret laid her fabric over the goo, lightly pressing it down, and then the same pattern was transferred to the fabric. She was able to do a couple repeats with the leftover paint.

margarets goo

Nela brought out her watercolor pencils, and showed us how they could be used on the fabric. I had fun trying them out. First I tried using the pencils on the dry fabric, then wetting it after, then I tried wetting the fabric first, then using the pencils. Nela wasn’t sure how lightfast or permanent the pencil color would be on the fabric. She used them on an art quilt that isn’t meant to be washed.

IMG_6722I also tried out stamping with the paint. Cathy brought a lot of found items, like rocks, wood, bubble wrap, and other packing material, that had interesting designs. I chose a packing material that had flat grooves, and dipped it in paint and stamped it in different designs on my fabric.

IMG_6719Fun! Now, how to incorporate these new ideas into my next mosaic block?

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Chapter 5 – Mosaic

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Unfortunately, again, I missed February’s monthly meeting of the Art Quilt Work Group. Despite missing the meetings, I’m excited about my mosaic series, and continue to keep up with the exercises and monthly blocks.

piecing, v. To repair, renew, or complete by adding pieces; to join into a whole (from Middle English pece: piece).

Chapter 5 looked at innovative piecing techniques, from machine-pieced freehand curves, wonky piecing, to inserting strips. I went through the exercises in the book, getting a feel for each of the techniques.

piece collage

After giving them a try, I thought about which I’d like to use or how I could incorporate the piecing into one of my mosaic blocks (following the idea the book encourages to work within a theme). I was drawn to the machine-pieced freehand curves, and drew up a sketch of what I was imagining.

test-4I was imagining repeating waves of the curved piecing, in a type of purple mountain majesty look, like mountains look off in the distance. I wanted to play with gradations of one color, going from light to dark. I was seeing the piecing being the back ground of the mosaic, with the mosaic tiles on top mirroring the shape and flow of the piecing.


Pulling out my dyed fabric stash, with my sketch as a guide, I began to play with difference color combinations. In the end, I was drawn to this combination of blues for the background (sky), and purples for the mosaic tiles (mountains).

test-7I pieced the colors together, so that the curves would get closer and closer together as the mountains got closer to the horizon.

mountain collageFor the mountains, I cut strips of the purple that matched the curves of the background. I ironed fusible interfacing on the back, then cut those into skinny strips, and then cut the strips into small mosaic tiles. I did it this way instead of placing random cut tile pieces, because I wanted to preserve the curve of the mountains, so the mosaic tiles would seem to float and flow across the quilt top.

test-13Once the mosaic tiles were cut, and placed where I wanted them, I fused them to the pieced background. I made a quilt sandwich with batting and backing, and stitched down the mosaic tiles with purple thread.

test-14Now that I have four blocks complete, I couldn’t resist laying them out together to see a glimpse of what the completed quilt might look like as more and more blocks get added.

test-18I like it! Vibrant colors. Interesting patterns. Depth with the mosaic tiles.

test-21I can’t wait to make more!

Anyone have suggestions on how to bind them together, since they are already quilted, I need a type of binding to connect them.

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I am going to be unable to attend next week’s Monday art quilt work group meeting, and so with a few free days, I jumped right in to Chapter Three on my own.

image, n. A reproduction of the form of a person or object (from Latin imago, from the root of imitari: to imitate).

Chapter Three: Inspiration from Images chatted about the use of photography in quilt design, going into computer manipulation, using images as an inspiration, and how to draw/quilt from a photograph.


The book walked through the steps to sketch a photograph, paying attention to value. Then, the exercise at the end was assembling a pear from different values. Catching on to the idea, I went searching for an image in my photo library to use as my mosaic block for the month.

South Team Day 04-25-06 038

I chose a photo of a California poppy, that I took while an AmeriCorps intern at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Here, I deviated from the Art Quilt Workbook. I remembered an article in the Quilting Arts magazine, a year or so ago, on Portrait Quilts, from photo to fabric, by Lea McComas. I looked through my magazines and soon found the article I was looking for. Here, Lea talks about using photoshop to posterize the photo to group similar values, instead of hand sketching like the Art Quilt Workbook suggests.

poppy posterized

Printing out my posterized image, I traced around the major shapes of color in the poppy. I ended up with five values: dark orange, medium orange, orange, golden orange, and yellow. Taking fusible webbing, I traced each shape from the poppy to the fusible webbing, leaving space between each to cut out.


I gave each shape a letter to mark which color it should be, and a number so I wouldn’t get shapes mixed up. Note: since I was intending this for a mosaic, each shape was independent. If I had wanted a more realistic shape like the pear, I would have had to allow for space for overlapping.


I selected five fabrics to represent each value from my stash of dyed fabrics. I ironed the pieces of fusible webbing onto the fabrics, and then cut out each shape.


This winter is particularly cold, and I reveled in the warm colors of the poppy. Then, following my original pattern, I started to lay out the pieces on a green background fabric.


One interesting challenge I ran into was translating the layout of the shapes to a mosaic. I didn’t think of it to start with, but once I started laying out the pieces, the dilemma became clear. In a mosaic, there is space between each shape. My pieces of fabric were cut in shapes that were meant to be touching each other, as in the original photograph. As I lay out the mosaic, sections became larger and suddenly pieces didn’t fit. Some needed to be longer, some shorter. I fudged it and made it work by trimming pieces as needed. If I did another, I’d want to think about how to plan for this from the beginning. One idea would be to make the image larger than intended, then when tracing the shapes, making them smaller, to allow for the space in between.


After I liked the layout of the poppy, I fused it in place, and then started on the background. In the original photo, all I saw was a jumble of green shapes and colors, and I wanted to imitate that in my mosaic. I selected a smattering of green scraps, trying to replicate the range of colors in the photo from light to dark.


It is such a joy creating these mosaic tiles, I can hardly wait for next month to come around!

8-3 014

A shout out to a few (not all) of the Cape Ivy ladies: Vanessa, me, Tanya, Melissa, and Catherine. Looking back, how lucky we were to spend our days outdoors, rain or shine, in the beauty of the coast.

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Chapter 4 – Mosaic

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And from Monday night’s beginning of a block, I couldn’t resist continuing on. The blocks are so fun to put together, small enough that they don’t take long, and simple enough that my creativity flows, in a playful nature to try new things and go for it.

So this evening after work and dinner, I sat down in my sewing room and played.

IMG_4712Here’s my block as it was left after Monday. Ah – the beauty of what I’m doing now is – using fusible web! I think this will be a brilliant method as I make more mosaics. It was a breeze to cut out the squares, and when I liked the placement, I simply ironed them in place! Heck with the glue, I much prefer the fusible webbing.

So, the next order of business was to fill in the background. I noticed that my flower and stem colors closely matched the background fabric, not creating a lot of contrast. The flowers were almost getting lost, as the colors were too similar. So of course I thought of a light fabric, and again chose a light blue. My thinking went that the light color surrounding the flowers would help their shape and color pop.

IMG_4713As I was selecting my blues, I was drawn towards having a bit of variation, so I selected a range of darks and lights. Starting at the bottom, I cut and arranged dark blues. As I worked my way to the top, I kept cutting and arranging lighter and lighter blues. When I liked my layout, I ironed it all down, and was ready to sew.

IMG_4716Using the same method in the previous mosaic, I quilted each tesserae, but not between each tesserae, so they stand out strong and alone against the background fabric. I think the light blue fabric was a perfect choice, don’t you?


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Jumping around a little bit, Monday we met and worked on Chapter 4 – Collage.

collage, n. An artistic composition of materials and objects pasted over a surface (from French coller: to glue).

First though, we all shared our Chapter 2 quilt blocks, each in our chosen theme.

IMG_4695Marilyn’s block – bird theme

IMG_4696Margaret’s block – rock theme

IMG_4697Nela’s block – frog theme

IMG_4698Cathy’s block – abstract theme


Penny’s block – African theme

And then we got down to business, playing with collage. We cut out three shapes from fabric, and played with arranging our shapes on a 9″ x 12″ block. Then we went on to cutting a specific image out, and creating a collage around that.

IMG_4708Here’s the beginning of my second mosaic block, I cut out three flower shapes, arranging them on my rectangle, then added stems and leaves. I then cut these shapes into smaller pieces, starting on turning it into a mosaic.


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Chapter 2 Mosaic

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For my first 9″ x 12″ block, I chose the color scheme earthy. In it, I had picked two browns, a light and dark, and a dark green. Pulling out my stash of dyed fabrics, I found three colors that followed the scheme and looked good together. I thought though that the mix could use some contrast, so I pulled out a light blue as well.

IMG_4679Taking my color pencils, I made a quick sketch in my journal of a circular mosaic pattern, using the colored pencils to note where which color would go where. Following my sketch, I measured out a 9″ x 12″ background fabric, and began cutting out small tesserae pieces from the fabric, and laying them down.

IMG_4686I used a spot of glue on each to hold it in place, chose various threads with matching colors, and began to quilt. I didn’t though, want the quilting to connect each piece. I wanted instead each piece of fabric to stand on its own, floating against the background color, as it might on a real mosaic. So after quilting each little tesserae, I raised my sewing machine foot, moved to the next tesserae, and began quilting again, all without cutting the thread but not sewing between tesserae.

IMG_4688Here, you can see the threads between each piece. It went quickly, and didn’t take much time at the end to sit a moment and clip each thread off the front and back, ending up with a nice, quaint, 9″ x 12″ mosaic.


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In our local quilt group, we have a smaller group of quilters interested in being creative and sewing art quilts. We like to call ourselves the Out of the Box group, a name that arose when one of our members was describing our group to the guild.

This year, we are following the Art Quilt Workbook, by Jane Davila and Elin Waterston. The book has exercises and chapters that teach new techniques, designed to ignite our creativity! Each month, one of us presents a chapter to the group and we do the exercises together.

At the first meeting, we discussed Chapter 1, the basics.

art, noun. The conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects (from Latin articulus: article).

And – there is homework for each chapter. Homework! It’s been a while. Each chapter ends with a homework assignment. The whole idea is to learn to work in a series of art quilts, (9″ x 12″) in a theme, using the various techniques we learn in each chapter. The homework for Chapter 1 was to select a theme for your series.

At the time I was reading Finding Beauty in a Broken World by Terry Tempest Williams. Her opening chapter is a moving commentary on mosaics,

“A mosaic is a conversation that takes place on surfaces.

A mosaic is a conversation with light, with color, with form.

A mosaic is a conversation with time.”

Immediately, I knew I wanted my theme to be mosaics.


At our Chapter 2 meeting, we played with color.

color, n. The appearance of objects (or light sources) described in terms of a person’s perception of their hue, lightness (or brightness), and saturation (from Latin color: color).

We all brought paint chips and fabric scraps. Pulling from a random list of descriptive words, we each made a color combination inspired by that word.

IMG_0204Here’s a page from my journal – with the words tropical, traditional, trendy, and nostalgic.

The homework from Chapter 2 was to make our first 9″ x 12″ block, using something we learned in Chapter 2. We also challenged ourselves to use one of the color combinations we made during the meeting.

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