Ginger cat – again

In keeping with a portrait theme I decided to make another quilt based on a photo of my ginger cat. The first one, Ginger, was made 2 years ago, not long after he died. Of my 3 most recent cats, Ginger was the most photogenic, and co-operative when it comes to picture taking!  I wanted to continue what I have recently learned about faces. Fur does make a difference! For me it makes it harder to see colour changes associated with light as they are mixed up with changes in fur colour. This is the photo I selected and my drawing based on it.

I really wanted to concentrate on the face so enlarged it considerably. The finished quilt is still 16 by 20 inches, but has only one face, rather than two or three. I loved working with larger features. Eyes especially were easier to deal with on this scale. I followed the same techniques as in my previous blogs, More from the Brownie camera and Portrait completion.  I won’t repeat the technique description, I’ll just highlight some of the things I learned from this project. My two important take-aways are:

  • Always study the photograph carefully for shadows. Even if the composition of the art work is different from the photograph. And keep looking – things appear that I didn’t see the first or second time.
  • Work bigger. Even if the final quilt isn’t bigger, make the image bigger. It’s easier to fine tune the details with bigger bits of fabric!

I spent a long time looking at Ginger’s eyes in the photo. I think it paid off. I would have started out with a green iris, a pupil and some highlights. But on closer examination there were mutiple shades of green, shadows cast by his brow ridge, many flecks of light. I’m really happy with the eyes.

The next most difficult feature was the tip of the nose and mouth. Unlike humans, the whole face comes forward into a snout and the shadows are much shallower. I think I will need more study on this.

It took me a long time to decide on the dark background. The photo has a light background but I wasn’t happy with any of the light options I tried. Once I chose a darker coloured theme, the piecing was easy. This quilt went through the usual fine tuning for corrections to colours and shadows, and adding a bit of sparkle. Notice the change in chin colour? I just couldn’t live with the blue there. I also change the shape of his muzzle on the left side (second photo) and added more contrast in some areas.


Then came thread selection and a bit of a pause while I thought about how to quilt it. I did something I didn’t do on my last piece. I drew out a quilting design. The shorter pieces of fur I stippled, while for the longer pieces, I used a longer motif in the direction of the fur, similar to what I did for The grizzly bear project – part 2.  It took longer and I did wonder if it would make a difference in the end, but I’m glad I did it. You can only really see it in certain lighting. The picture below shows it up well.


This is the third quilt I’ve mounted on canvas, this time using a black fabric to wrap over the canvas. I like this finishing method as it eliminates the hand stitching of a facing and hanging sleeve on the back!



Past work – a makeover

Since I’ve been thinking about portraits lately, I thought I would share my first experiences with this. Early in my art quilt journey, I decided to make a portrait of my daughter based on a photo taken by her Dad and instructions I found in a magazine.  My initial approach was to follow the instructions exactly – I tend to do that when I’m exploring a new technique. First I posterized the photo, choosing 4 levels of tone.  Then I created a pattern by tracing the defined tonal areas onto freezer paper. These were cut out and fused to what I thought were appropriate fabrics. There was also a tracing onto paper backed fusible so the pieces could be attached to a background fabric.  It wasn’t looking great but I went ahead with stitching, hoping to create the impression of braids and blend the tones a bit. It looked terrible. Neither my daughter nor I liked it. Unsure of what to do I left it hanging on my studio wall for several years. More as a reminder of what not to do than anything else.

After I completed “Mom’s Selfie”,  and my experience in fabric collage grew, I realized I could simply keep adding to the portrait. I played around with smaller bits of fabric (many of then leftover from the Selfie project) until I got a look that I liked, softening the contrast in her face and giving up on the braids in favour of messy hair. Then I covered it in tulle and stitched over it. I redid the borders of the quilt, making them less heavy. Then I framed the result. Just recently I adjusted the border again so that I could do a better job of framing. My daughter liked the revised image and so, I was happy too! I’m glad I kept it as I was tempted to throw it out many times. It’s not quite as I would do it today if I were to start over as I have continued to explore and learn since this remake.   I’m tempted to start a new portrait of my daughter to see how much my style has changed since then! Interestingly the photo I used for this is one of the best I’ve worked with. Good  resolution, crisp focus, clear shadows and light. And yet it produced the worst result initially.   I’ve been thinking a lot about photo inspiraton and how it gets me started but doesn’t need to be perfect. I think it helps if there are ambiguous areas that I need to study and complete myself.


Portrait completion

In my previous post “More from the brownie camera“, I talked about the preparation and piecing process for this portrait of my Dad (Tom), his twin sister (Hazel) and her husband (Jackie). This post is about the completion. First I decided to go over the whole thing with the glue bottle and further tack down all of the pieces. I use very little glue initially so that I can slide other pieces behind them or, if needed, more easily remove and replace them.  I was also giving some thought to not placing tulle over the whole thing, which would make gluing the edges necessary so they don’t get caught by the sewing machine foot. Although I decided to use tulle, this was a good exercise as it:

  • Made the whole piece more stable.
  • Allowed me to find all the pieces that were supposed to be under another piece that had managed to get on top instead.
  • Find some tiny areas where the background fabric had not been completely covered. These may not have shown up in the final stage but fabric always shifts a bit when it’s stitched so the tiny gaps could have widened.

As I did this I also made note of areas I wanted to adjust with tulle and sheers. These are pinned in place on the photo below. I softened the  line in Jackie’s (left) cheek, and brightened a corner of Hazel’s (centre) dress as well as a patch of her hair.

final adjustments pinned

Next step was to determine the final size, which meant deciding how I wanted to finish it. I decided I would mount it on a pre-stretched canvas frame so 16″ by 20″ was the target. I marked this on the back with a fabric marker and then added a quarter inch for seam allowance. The 20.5 inch width was no problem, but I had to add a few pieces to the top and bottom to make sure I had 16.5 inches covered. In retrospect I should have done this before the glue down as it would have been easier to adjust the edges then.

marking the size plus 1:4 inch

I decided to add tulle over the top. I like the way it stitches, keeps everthing together, and helps prevent furher fraying. It also meant I didn’t have to be 100% on the glued edges. My favourite colour tulle is purple. It works really well with the oranges and greens that I like to work with as it deepens the colour.  These photos are with tulle (left) and without the tulle (right). The camera helps provide some distance so the colour difference is very slight!

I free motion stitched the way I pieced, one person at a time, except I started in the centre and worked towards the edges. Fabric stretches and moves as it’s stitched so needs to be pressed flat from the centre outwards periodically through the process. I used quite a variety of threads with the general idea to have the thread blend in and not be too noticeable. I did an overall stiple for most of it, switching to a more linear pattern for hair. I outlined the eyes with dark thread but did not stiple over them. I added a few outlining stitches on the noses, mouths and chin, to more fully define the boundaries. I roughly marked the boundaries of the quilt using a square but decided not to cut until I actually had the 16 by 20 canvas and frame to place it in. I wanted to take the exact measurements from it.

I was happy to find a canvas and frame combination set at an art supply store. The size was pretty accurate – just a fraction less than 20 inches on the long sides. I cut to size, then stitched a black 3.5 inch strip around the edge. I folded this around the canvas and stapled it in place. Then I placed the canvas in the frame and voila! All done! The black edge blends in with the frame beautifully. I don’t often frame quilts but I like the way this  looks, like they are peaking in through a window.




More from the Brownie camera


Three years ago I completed Mum’s Selfie (parts 1 and 2) and now I’m working on another “selfie” from a photo taken around the same time. This one is of my Dad, Tom, his twin sister, Hazel and her husband, Jackie. The original photo is about 3 1/4 inches by 2  1/4 inches and I’ve been thinking of doing a quilt based on it for a while but was discouraged by the potential difficulties. There are many things about it that make it a difficult subject for fabric collage. It’s a bit over-exposed, and has 3 faces with eyes, teeth and noses! All potentially difficult. However, I recently signed up for Susan Carlson’s Fabric Collage Online Master Class which goes into lots of detail with videos to demonstrate various techniques. Thus encouraged, I decided to give it a go. I started by blowing up the photo to about 8 by 10.  I traced the basics from the photo onto tracing paper. I did that several times, shading in the darkest areas to see if it looked ok. Then I scanned the tracing as a PDF and printed it at about 200%. I don’t actually remember the percentage, I just kept working at it until it printed onto 4 pieces of paper which I taped together and the result was about 21 by 16 inches.


I went over the drawing with a fine marker (and changed a few things as I did it), then traced that onto base fabric (and changed a few things as I did it), and then started the collage, one person at a time. Throughout the process I saw new details in the photograph. Initially it was hard to tell if my Dad had a moustache at that time or not, under his nose is a mess of shadows. As I worked I found I could clearly distinguish the shadow made by his nose from the dark areas created by his moustache.  I was amazed at the way my understanding of what I was seeing improved over the time I worked on this.


I have never thought my Dad and his sister looked alike when I knew them, but in tracing their features so many times I noticed similarities in the shape of their noses, the deep lines around their mouths that form when they smile, the shape and depth of their eyes. In contrast my Uncle Jackie has a very different shaped face, all broad planes, high cheekbones and shallow lines – except for that frown of concentration between his eye-brows!

They are standing close together so that they will all fit into the image (which is a guess on their part until the film is developed). Auntie Hazel has her arms around both of the men and they probably have one arm each around her. I realized that Dad could not possibly be holding the camera and pushing the button to take the picture with one hand. My Uncle Jackie  must have been helping with one of them holding the camera, and one of them pushing the button. Uncle Jackie looks the most concentrated so perhaps he is pushing the button. I’ve seen that look on many faces in selfies wondering if it’s going to work! These brownie cameras had a special feature that could be used for taking portraits but even with that, the recommended distance is 5 to 8 feet. They are much closer and the camera has distorted their features making the closer ones look larger than they really are. My Dad’s nose and forehead look larger because his head is tilted slightly down and my Uncle Jackie’s chin and mouth are exaggerated as his head is raised a bit. Auntie Hazel is the least distorted and certainly the most relaxed.

I started with the eyes, noses and mouths, each of which was made at least 3 times before I was happy with them! At first I thought it a shame that Uncle Jackie was smoking, but it was a relief to not have yet another set of teeth to make!  This is a series of shots of the progression over a couple of weeks.


As my ability to see shadows and light and how it forms facial features improved, I made many changes and adjustments, adding tiny bits of detail here and there, as well as subtle changes in fabrics to improve blending. Changing the picture to black and white was a big help in understanding whether the shading was correct. Some fabrics surprise me when I do this. Things I thought were light because they are bright colours can actually be medium or dark because of the intensity of the colour. I focused on making sure the lights and darks were correct and spent less time worrying about the actual colour.   I like the surprises that fabric creates – a flower on the forehead, a petal here and there, unusual colours!


My Aunty Hazel looks very happy in this photo and I wanted to have her glow, with the glow rubbing off on the men at either side of her. I also especially like that her glasses are squished and cockeyed. I wasn’t sure how to portray the glasses and tried a few options. I settled on using a brown polyester sheer fabric – I used a freezer paper template fused to the sheer to cut out the parts of the frames that I wanted as it stabilized the fabric so that I could get a straighter cut. This is the only time I used a template! I’ve made her glasses stand out more than the photo shows. I added only a couple of the lower highlights as the  upper ones made the frame less clear although more true to the photo. For the moment I prefer them to have a little more emphasis.  I may add highlights when I do the stitching…or may be not. The glasses were the last thing I added as they are very fragile and movable even with a spot of glue to hold them down. Everything is just slightly glued at this point.

glasses done

This is a very messy process with tiny bits of fabric scattered around the floor of the studio and then following me out to other parts of the house!  I am now at the stage where I’ve put away the fabric and swept the floor (which is no guarantee that I won’t add more later). I need to decide on the finished size, which will depend on how I decide to finish it … then quilting – fingers crossed that all goes well!



The grizzly bear project – part 2

It’s been a while since my first blog about this piece “The grizzly bear project – part 1”. Lots of studio and vacation time and not much writing time!

Stitching went fairly smoothly on this project, although it is always an adventure! I began with the bear and started with a light orange thread which I hoped to create highlights with. I ended up pulling most of this out and keeping only what was on the bear’s face. It didn’t blend to my liking. Pulling out free motion stitching is never fun and I avoid it if possible but this just had to be done. I used a variety of thread colors and a long directional stitch that I’ve used for many textures including tree bark, flames and now, wet fur. After that I used an all over stipple stitch for the top background to keep it in place. For the shoreline I used a pebble stitch to show the smooth medium sized rocks that salmon like for spawning. The water is a straightforward horizontal curvy stitch that reflects some of the churning and rippling waters. These are some in process pictures.


One of the things I like about this technique is that it is possible to make changes even after the stitching is done. Late changes included:

  • I made some slight alterations in the grey area defining the boundary between water and forest. I also added an additional piece of tulle to the dark shape on the left of the photo. This was done by positioning fabric and tulle where I wanted it – making the tulle a large overlay. I stitched around the edges of the tulle then cut it to the stitching, and then put in the topstitching to connect with the stitching already done.
  • I also adjusted the shape of the bear’s mouth and details of the salmon as it just didn’t look right to me. The salmon was not at all clear in the photo so is more or less made up – it’s also bright pink which is not a realistic color, but then neither is the bear! I did this the same way, by adding fabric and tulle on top, including some sparkly tulle and metallic thread for this salmon. I also added some detail to the bear’s eye which I think gives her more personality.


  • Final changes included adding the water streaming from the bear. Although I had positioned tulle for this in the initial collage, it blended into the background when stitched over and I wanted it to stand out more. I stitched some bits of sheers and tulle between two layers of water soluble stabilizers then washed out the stabilizer, leaving some if the starch in so that it was a bit stiff. I then cut and positioned these pieces on top and added more stitching to both keep it in place.

I took my time with this one and I’m happy with the result! This quilt looks very different in different lighting situations as you can tell by the photos.Bear complete

The grizzly bear project – part 1

In 2014 we went to Knight Inlet, stayed on a floating lodge, and were taken on excursions to view grizzly bears fishing for salmon. It was amazing! Most of the bears were mothers and babies, or young bears.  The lodge is near a river that empties into the inlet – which is deep and narrow like a fjord. The salmon run starts in August and runs through the fall. There were so many salmon the water rippled with their bodies close to the surface. In spite of the numbers, it wasn’t always easy for the bears to catch them. We were told that grizzlies evolved on the prairies and have claws made for digging in the ground. The youngest ones don’t even like water.   The bear I chose for my quilt had just caught a salmon after many failed attempts. He or she looked very pleased! I have been wanting to make an art quilt to remind me of this experience ever since.

I started by selecting a photo out of the many we took. Here are a few I considered.


This is the one I chose.

Bear photo

The photo is in focus and high resolution which means I still have a decent photo once it’s cropped. I used a projector to blow up the image and traced it onto 24″ by 36″ flip chart paper.  I added in the main features and areas where colour changed. I’m always experimenting with the fabric collage process. I decided to reverse the image which was easy to do by flipping the drawing over. Since I use magic marker to draw it, the image shows on both sides.

Bear Drawing

I thought I could save some effort by using a fusible interfacing as the base for the collage as this worked well on “Ocean Crossing“.  This resulted in a very flimsy bear and for some reason it didn’t fuse well either (possibly too many overlaps in the fabrics). I found it difficult to work with on this larger scale.  I cut out the interfaced bear and fused it to a sturdy white cotton using fusible tape here and there. I had originally planned to have the bear as a separate piece, then attach it to a pieced background as I did in Dream of Fields and  Quirky Quail. I changed my mind about this and collaged the background to the cotton.  Once these basics were in place, I switched to using glue for fusing. I would describe this phase as chaotic! By this time the studio is a mess of fabrics scattered about. Some pieces are stuck down, others are still in the auditioning process – sitting on the surface while I decide if they are the right ones or not. I take many photos which enable me to see the work at a distance which helps me to decide if its looking right or not. Some pieces of fabric get glued and then removed (tricky) or covered over (easier but adds to the layers and bulk). There is always a stage where I don’t think its ever going to work. And then, thankfully, I start to like it again.

Here are some “in process” pictures. By the last two photos, I’m starting to like it.  The water is a very bright blue and pink batik covered by a layer of pale yellow sheer fabric which toned it down just enough to suggest water with pink fish in it. The white water at the bear’s feet is the reverse side of a flowered fabric, fussy cut around the grey green leafy sections. I also have some sparkly tulle for water and some cheesecloth on the light parts of the bear.


I covered the collaged fabrics with a layer of purple tulle and pinned it so that I could move it off the pressing table which I needed to press the batting and backing fabrics. With the use of some cardboard I was able to move it without folding it and dislodging some precariously positioned bits. I also covered the red flower on the bears chest with a beige one as my sister pointed out that it looked like it had been shot! This is the final look with batting and background, all pinned and ready for stitching. Stay tuned for how that turns out!

Bear layered

Ocean Crossing

I have an old and badly exposed photo that I’m very fond of. I think it is the only photo of my family aboard the HMS Corinthia in 1966 when we emigrated to Canada. My sister, myself and my mother are on deck looking at the coast of Scotland as our ship sails by before heading across the Atlantic. Crossing water feels like an end and a beginning. I remembered this moment when we recently moved from Ontario to British Columbia. We crossed Lake Huron on a ferry in Ontario, and the Strait of Georgia on a ferry to reach Vancouver Island. It seems fitting somehow that water is crossed when such a major change occurs.

This is a small piece measuring about 10 by 12 inches. I started by printing out a digitized copy of the photo and then tracing the main features that I wanted to include. I simplified the boat significantly and included only the deck and railings. I added details to my drawing from a close examination of the photo. My sister is wearing stirrup pants and sandals and standing on tiptoe to rest her elbows on the railing. I am standing exactly the same way as my mother, except that where she is leaning on the railing watching the landscape, I am standing back a bit with my hand on the railing. I think it was early morning.  My Dad took the photo.


I enlarged the drawing on my printer until it was a reasonable size. I had a stretched canvas that I planned to use to frame this and wanted it to be a specific size – not something I usually do.

I worked on the background first.  It is fused appliqué and the ocean has a layer if blue sheer fabric over it to add shine. Before I could position the top railing, I needed to have the figure of my sister done so that I could make it the right height for her to rest on. I traced each figure onto freezer paper and then cut out the clothing, hair etc and fused it to light weight fusible interfacing. It reminded me of the paper cut out dolls I used to play with as a child! This worked well as I could try out different options for positioning everything.


I added the batting and backing and free motion stitched the background before adding the figures. I fused them in place with bits of misty fuse and then stitched around them before adding details of shading and texture. I admit I removed some of the initial stitching around them as I didn’t like the appliqué stitch I chose. If I did this again I would simply stitch all around the edges which is what I ended up doing in the end. I also struggled with the framing. The quilt is the size of the frame with an extra piece of fabric around the edges to fold over and staple on the back. There is too much bulk from the quilted part at the edges of the frame.  Next time I will try having the quilt at least a quarter inch less than the frame all the way around so that the folded edge is not quilted. I did read several techniques on how to do this but I need to try a few for myself to see what I prefer.

I used a scribble stitch on my bulky white sweater and I like the texture it created. With thread sketching I added a bit of shading and detail but not a lot. I’m quite happy with the result.

Ocean Final


These two quilts continue the theme of hidden depths that I’ve been exploring. These are  about the connections and communication that we are generally oblivious to. I’ve chosen trees as the main subjects and the connections can be seen mainly in the background. Both were accepted into the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery Fine Arts juried show.

For both I started with a rough sketch or two which came together in the final full size drawing. Here are a few of the early sketches. They are messy, unfinished and done mainly as an idea generation and confirmation exercise.

These are the full size drawings. Each quilt is approximately 12″ by 33″.

Full size drawing


Interconnections 1

The tree top and the ground on which it stands are made from loose threads ends that I collect as I’m sewing. This project used up most of a year’s collection of thread ends! They were sandwiched between two pieces of water soluble stabilizer then free motion stitched. I dissolved the stabilizer under a cold tap, resulting in a lacy collection of threads that more or less stays together. The background is a synthetic scarf that I was given by a hotel in Nepal as a welcome gift. It’s light and inexpensive and started out beige. I took it to several dyeing classes and used it to mop up excess dye from dyeing containers. The only colour that took was red and the scarf turned out to be pink. It’s fused onto a greenish mottled batik that you can see the edges of in the quilt. I made a pattern for the trunks and which are tubes which I then intertwined with each other. An interesting skein of yarn, partly consisting of unspun wool forms the roots and trunks of the smaller trees.  I made the mistake of initially trying to quilt the tree top directly on top of the connected threads. My presser foot quickly became entangled so I added a piece of tulle on top to create a smooth surface for stitching. There are a few bits and pieces on top of that and some of the threads escape the tulle on the edges to allow more texture to show through. The yellow circles representing unseen communication are made from a piece of hand-dyed silk.

Interconnections 2

The tree top are scraps of batiks captured under tulle (lesson learned!) The trunk is a single batik that I thought bore a good resemblance to cedar bark. The islands are made from eco dyed wool. The wool was interesting to quilt as it stretches a bit adding to the bumpy texture. I added a layer of batting under the tree top and the islands to provide more texture. The background is a piece of hand dyed silk. It came out of a chemical dyeing process looking a bit pale and blotchy, so I added it to an eco dyeing batch as well. The result was a very inconsistent set of pale colors. As a piece of silk I though it quite ugly, but as a background where sea and sky are indistinguishable as is often the case when there is rain, mist and fog, it worked perfectly. The communication circles are more subtle in this one and there is a sense of distance. I used some silver and gold tulle’s to add a bit of sparkle. Interconnections 1 is a bit lightweight for it’s length and needed weights in the bottom to hang better. I added a heavier weight stabilizer to Interconnections 2 and it certainly hangs straight and feels much heavier!


I’m quite happy with how these turned out. Working with a variety of materials can be challenging but produces a greater variety of textures and sheen in the pieces. I don’t know which I like best.  I think Interconnections 1 has a happy, joyful feel about it, and Interconnections 2  has a somewhat sombre mood.

Quirky Quail

Ever since a family of California quail started visiting our garden regularly I’ve been wanting to make a fabric collage featuring quail.  I was trying to think of ideas for a show themed “Black and White” at our local gallery but what I really wanted to do were quail. So I set about making black and white quail, assuming that grey tones and a bit of taupe here and there would be ok. I started by selecting two photos where the quail’s pose looked interesting to me. The photos were not the best but cropping and changing to black and white helped to identify the main features. I spent quite a bit of time fiddling with the photos and wasn’t all that satisfied with the results. (Now I’m researching photo editing software again.) I printed the photos and then used a fine tip sharpie to outline the main areas. Then I projected this onto a wall to enlarge it and traced around the main features.


At first I thought I would just use black and white fabrics that I had on hand and stitch details with black and white thread. I wasn’t very happy with the fabrics I had as most of it involved black or white flowers. So I started rummaging through my stash and brought out some “failed”  fabrics from an eco dyeing class. My favourite turned out to be a silk that turned grey from too much over-dyeing (it had been yellow at one point). I loved the way this looked in the quail’s breast. My second favourite was an old linen that someone in our family had embroidered on the edges. It was meant for a dresser top but wasn’t very interesting so I took it to the dyeing class, where it turned into something I would never put on a dresser. This piece made lovely textured wings and feet for the quail.  I continued to experiment with different fabrics and incorporated some bits of lace curtains to add white to the lower body.  I also used  bits of black tulle netting to add shadows and a few bits of white tulle and sheers to add highlights.


I created the quail on white muslin with stabilizer behind it. The pieces are lightly glued or fused in place with bits of misty fuse or stitch witchery. Then I covered the birds with a bigger piece of tulle – silver with a bit of sparkle in it – and stitched all the pieces in place. I cut them out with a small white edge around them, more on the lighter side than in the shadows. This is very similar to how I made Dream of Fields. The quail got to hang around together on the design wall for a while but I knew I wanted to make two separate quilts – one would have been quite large.

Quail IP5

I’m still not completely sure that I like the starkness of the black background I chose (it’s a batik so not pure black) but it can always be changed later as the quail are only attached at their edges.  I added pieces of tulle to make a ground for them to stand on. This is not meant to look like night, or to be realistic . The contrast is to emphasize the subject’s personality. Quail do have lots of personality! They hang out in family groups where one or two of them is appointed as a lookout while the others look for seeds or take dust baths in the vegetable garden. I saw the entire family follow the lookout one day as he boldly strode towards a cat that was slowly creeping toward them. After a good telling off (quail to cat), the whole family flew away. The cat was suitably chastised.

I enjoyed using a variety of fabrics in this piece. I’ve previously used mainly cottons. I fused a lightweight stabilizer to the back of the silk as it’s difficult to work with otherwise. I like the way tulle makes shadows but it does have its drawbacks. Small bits of it are so light they will blow away if you breathe on them. Also glue of any kind comes right through it (my craft iron is a bit of a mess now). You also can’t really iron the finished piece to set the stitches on the front – the tulle may melt. It can be pressed from the back so it was helpful to do all the stitching on the quail before the quilt sandwich was made. My next quail will likely have much more colour and I intend to return to my handed fabrics for inspiration!


Skimming the surface

This is the second quilt in this series about hidden depths and the vastness of things. The first was called Thoughts and a few pearls of wisdom and featured earth. This one features water. In many of the guided meditations I’ve listened to there is the idea of thoughts and the mind being waves on the surface of the ocean that is our true self.  Thoughts are transient and small compared to what lies underneath but they demand a great deal of our attention.

I started this little quilt with a pretty good idea of how I wanted it to look.  From experience I should know that this is a bad thing.  My work always flows more easily when chance and serendipity play a role!

I started much the same as the last one, with a rough sketch which I then drew freehand onto stabilizer. The sky I coloured with Inktense pencils on a piece of white cotton sheet left over from another project. All my blue fabrics were too bold. The ocean started with a piece of hand dyed silk that was a mottled grey green. I later decided it was too consistent and added some wave shapes with black tulle and then covered the whole piece of silk with a blue tulle that had a few sparkles in it. I really liked the effect this created – more interest and flashes of sunlight on the water!

water in process

working on the water

The bottom section started with fused appliqué as with the last one. I managed to trace the image backwards – twice! (If you’ve worked with Steam-a-seam you’ll know it has to be traced on reverse side assuming I could figure out which one that is).  I decided I could live with a reverse image as the sketch was just a guide to flowing lines and could easily be varied, but it wasn’t coming together as I’d hoped. I finally gave up the detailed piecing and placed a piece of blue poly satin lining fabric under the sky and water and used it as a backdrop to the rest. I cut up the fusible bits I had made and arranged them without looking at the drawing. Once I abandoned the pattern and just played with what was lying around it came together in a matter of minutes!


Free motion stitching this also gave me some trouble which I think had to do with too many layers of fusible and not enough heat to melt the glue. One thing I’ve learned from working with tulle is that it’s not all the same. Some of it is quite sturdy under heat, and some of it melts if the iron get near it, making quite a mess! Turning down the temperature of the iron and using a silicone pad made it harder to melt the glue on the steam-a-seam. My needle got a bit gummy but it turned out all right in the end. I faced this with whole cloth as before and got a bit more adventurous with the shape.

I’m not sure what’s next, but I think fire and space need to be represented…

Water Complete

Quilt Completed