Category Archives: Art Quilts

Eye Contact exhibit sponsored by Sacred Threads

Earlier I posted about a small quilt I made and entered into an exhibit sponsored by Sacred Threads.  The exhibit has just closed.  Although I haven’t seen any photographs of the actual exhibit, I did receive a copy of the “catalog” for the exhibit.  It is nicely done.  Photos to follow!

But first the big news.  The exhibit was successful enough that the sponsors believe they can put together a travelling exhibit, and have asked permission to keep all the quilts until May of 2021!  I have sent in my permission.  Hopefully enough other exhibitors will also do it so the travelling exhibit can happen.  Since I was not able to see the actual exhibit, maybe it will come to a venue close enough that I can visit it.

Here are some photos of the very nice book produced by Sacred Threads:

Front cover

Back cover

My page

 

Eye Contact Exhibit – July 11-28, 2019

The Eye Contact: creating a connection special exhibit is being held from July 11-28, 2019 at the Floris United Methodist Church, 13600 Frying Pan Road, Herndon, VA 20171.  This is very close to Dulles airport outside Washington DC.  For more information, visit: www.sacredthreadsquilts.com
I entered two quilts in this show.  All entries are of human eyes looking at the viewer, and must be 5 inches high and 23 inches wide.   I wish I could see the exhibit; hopefully there will be some photos available online.
Here is a photo of one of my entries:
This quilt was made with using white high thread count cloth and pen and ink to draw the details before it was sandwiched and quilted.
The other entry is much more colorful.  Unfortunately I have lost my photo of it.  My quilts are to be returned in a couple of months so if all goes well I can take another photo of it then.

Mosaic Patchwork, English Paper Pieced Quilts Show in Colorado

A couple of months ago I saw an announcement that the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden, Colorado is having a juried show this fall of English Paper Pieced Quilts.  The quilts  must be at least 75 per cent paper pieced.  Since I made such a quilt a few years ago, I read the requirements carefully and convinced myself that my quilt would qualify.  I submitted an entry, and last week was delighted to hear that my quilt has been accepted into the show.  There is a photo of the quilt in my gallery, but I took a better photo for the submittal, and here it is:  “Best Wishes From The Far East”:

This quilt is pretty large – the hexagons are six inches.  The Chinese characters are made from Ultrasuede and are machine-appliqued. The quilt is hand quilted.

The quilts will be exhibited in the Museum (located at 200 Violet Street, Suite 140, Golden, CO) from October 21, 2019 to January 18, 2020.  There is an opening reception Friday, October 25 from 6-8 pm.  I would love to go but it’s a long way; maybe I will think up another reason to be in the area!

And coincidentally, I just finished another English Paper Pieced Quilt with a modern vibe:

 

Still thinking about what to call this one.  It wouldn’t have qualified for the show since it isn’t 75 per cent paper pieced.  The fabrics are all Moda Grunge.  Hexagons are 3 1/2 inches .  The quilting is by machine.

 

Fused Applique Portrait Quilts

I have just completed an on-demand video course on fused applique portrait quilts.  It is taught by Lea McComas (her website is  www.leamccomas.com/)    and is available through The Quilting Company  https://www.quiltingcompany.com/store/courses-videos/courses?technique=249 .

Lea does an excellent job of explaining the process of creating portrait quilts.  After explaining how to select a suitable photo, she explains the process of cropping it, transforming it to grayscale, and then “posterizing” it to reduce the number of values in the portrait.

Lea also has fabric and threads available on her website that are already in the range of values she recommends.  To avoid having to spend hours in the car going from one quilt shop to another, I purchased these fabrics and threads directly from her.  The fabrics she supplies are solid Kona cottons.  They are nice fabrics but will result in a particular “look” to the finished product. Sort of like an old “poster” or  an Andy Warhol look.

I am quite happy with my first quilt following the process and plan to do a few more using these solid fabrics.  After some more experience using solids, I will switch to subtle prints for more texture and a different look.

First step was to select a photo.  I picked one that was a formal portrait and cropped it.

Photo of Shirley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I converted it to gray scale and “posterized” it to reduce the number of values (fabrics).

Shirley grayscale and posterized

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I enlarged this using Microsoft Paint (page setup for printing allows you to specify how many pages you want the photo to print on).  I could have put the file on a thumb drive and taken it to my local print shop, but it was quicker to do it at home and tape the pages together.

Then I put the image on my light table and put freezer paper on top so I could trace a pattern for cutting out my fabrics:

Pattern for portrait

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The little red arrows mean that an extra 1/4 inch or so of fabric should be allowed on that side of the pattern piece, so it can be layered underneath the neighboring piece.

These pieces are then carefully cut out and ironed onto the various fabrics.  A fusible such as Steam A Steam 2 Lite or Misty Fuse is then applied to the back of the fabric and the fused pieces cut out.  Starting with the lightest value, the fabrics are built up on a muslin backing until the result looks like this:

Shirley portrait fused but not stitched

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then a quilt sandwich is made with this quilt top, batting and a backing fabric.  Finally a layer of bridal tulle is placed on top to hold all those little pieces in place!  The layers are pinned together and then free motion stitched.  The face is stitched by just outlining the fabric pieces.  Extra stitching is done in the hair and the background to add some additional texture.

The final result, after quilting and adding a facing is below:

Shirley completed portrait quiltThis is an interesting process!  The cutting out and fusing down of the pieces is a little tedious, but overall it is a fairly quick process to create a portrait quilt.

If you are interested in trying this process, be sure to take Lea’s class.

Lea uses a fused quilt like this as a “base” for heavy thread painting.  That allows for a much more realistic look in the face, because the thread can be used to soften the color transitions.  Check out her website for examples of her spectacular quilts!

Coloring fabric with colored pencils

Last fall I took a Craftsy class from Lola Jenkins on making portrait quilts using colored pencils.  Lola has a wonderful relaxed approach to her art and it was a fun class.  I recommend it if you are interested in this subject.

I used an assortment of colored pencils for the project, mostly Prismacolor pencils but also some Crayola pencils, and occasionally a Derwent Inktense pencil (I have a limited range of colors in those but they have a lot of pigment so you can get a stronger color with them).

The process used is to print a line drawing on paper and then trace it onto fabric using a light table or a convenient window.  Lola likes to add interest to her portraits by adding shapes in front of the portrait.  For the class, I used her example, which is Vermier’s “Lady With A Pearl Earring”.

After the drawing is traced on the fabric, the fabric is fused to an interfacing.  The traced drawing is stitched with black thread.  Then the colored pencils are used to make the portrait.

In the image below, you can see the result.  Since this was a class project, I haven’t completed the background.  This allows you to see what the original fabric looked like.  I was impressed with how vibrant the colors were  and how little the fabric color showed through.

girl with pearl earring quiltAfter the pencil work was completed, the fabric is painted with textile medium to set the color.  This is supposed to make it permanent, although I haven’t conducted a test yet.

More recently I was working with a photo of a cute wild rabbit I took in the local park. where I was photographing flowers and he/she hopped by to look at me.

Here is the rabbit photo.

wild rabbit

And here is the small quilt I made based on the photo, again with colored pencils.  Remembering Lola’s approach, I added the daffodils in front and behind the rabbit to add some more interest.  I stitched the outlines of the rabbit and flowers, then quilted the background completely before coloring with pencils.

bunny rabbit quilt

I call this one “Daffy Bunny”.  I think it’s kind of cute — although it certainly isn’t my usual style!

 

Printing of photographs on fabric

There are several methods for doing this and lots of websites giving lots of advice on the subject. One very good website is pixeladies.com. Their focus is primarily on online sources where you can order fabric printed with your own images. Other sites will discuss methods for printing images on fabric at home with your inkjet printer.

Most of my fabric printing has been done at home using my inkjet printer with self-treated fabric using Bubble Jet Set (again, lots of info on the web about its use). This results in quite good images, although I would not want to subject the resulting fabric to a lot of washing or exposure to the sun. I have seen some quilts with photo images that have faded significantly, although I haven’t had the problem myself. Another disadvantage is that this process can result in a printer jam if you are not careful; printers are not really designed to feed the fabric through the rollers. Also, the size of the image is limited by the size of your printer.

A local art quilter recently had a large fabric print made of a photo on fabric. She used a service called Fabric On Demand (fabricondemand.com). Her large image (about 28 by 40 inches) looked very good. She selected this service because their process is known to produce better blacks than some other services such as spoonflower.com. Both services have a selection of fabrics available, including 100 percent cotton. Fabric on Demand has two different weights of cotton – 4 oz and 6 oz. The 6 oz is probably better for doing a large piece that will be framed; 4 oz is closer to the usual “quilters” weight of fabric.

I have used spoonflower and been pleased with the results, but I have only used them for a “repeating” design, not just printing a single large image. In my research I found that Fabric On Demand allowed me to order a single image printed on a “fat quarter” rather than forcing me to purchase one yard at a time. Also, the size of the image can be specified in the order.

So recently I placed an order with Fabric On Demand for three fat quarters, each with a different photo image. During my interaction with them, I specified that I wanted the longest dimension of the photo to print 9 inches long on the fabric, and I wanted the image centered on the fat quarter.

What I received, while good for my purposes (which was to test their service), wasn’t really what I ordered. I had a brief discussion with their staff about what I received. They were very willing to have the order re-done at no cost, but I chose not to do this since what I received was OK for the purposes of my test.

The actual printing of the photo on the fabric is very good; the image is clear and the colors very true to the original photos – at least for my purposes.

Here is what I was expecting – three fat quarters with a single image in each:

I received the order twice (not sure why), and each order looked like this – about 59 inches wide and 18 inches long:

So I actually received four copies of each image when I was expecting one. Two of the images (the elephants at the right end) were not usable because the image was printed over the selvedge. And as you can see, the 18 inch dimension is rather irregularly cut, and was not always a full 18 inches.

The sizing of the images was not completely consistent, and was not exactly the 9 inches I specified. The actual images varied from 8 ½ inches wide to 8 ¾ inches wide on the longest dimension. In addition, the images were not square. As you can see in the photos below, one of the orders I received was out of square about ½ inch and the other was out of square by about ¼ inch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I cut off the elephant images on the ends that went over the selvedges to use for further testing. I have put one of them through the wash with my laundry, and I will be using the other one to test for sun fading. In the first and second wash process, the image shrank slightly more than 1/4 inch – not unexpected for cotton, of course. Over the next few weeks I will send that piece through the wash several more times and see if there is any noticeable fading of the colors (none so far), and if it shrinks any more. I have put the second elephant image outside in the sun and will wait a few weeks to see if there is any noticeable fading.

The shrinkage and the dimension problems, once known, can be anticipated and compensated for by cropping the image with some extra around the edges, to allow for squaring it up and getting an accurate final dimension (probably only necessary if making multiple images to use in quilt blocks where the size is important). If my original image had strong vertical lines (such as a flagpole or a building), I would need to be prepared to rotate and crop the image to get the vertical line truly vertical.

In summary, so far so good – but proceed with caution. The images look good, and the fabric is good. We have to be prepared for size issues resulting from the shrinkage, the out of square printing process, and the fact that the printing fabric did not have the exact size of image as originally specified. I will post again when I am finished with the washing test and the sun fading test.