It’s so easy to get tangled up in choices when I design a piece. Since my starting point is usually rough, at best, many shape and color decisions still need to be made. And it’s easy to slip into not seeing the forest for the trees territory.
I finished quilting my four scrappy medallion log cabins so I rewarded myself with a new start, based on a Spoonflower printed photo of a dry stone wall that encloses a local landmark.
I pulled possible additional fabrics and painted pieces of an old shirt and sheet. Then I pinned them up.
After I looked at them for about two months I thought of an approach to that wall fabric – make several narrowly separated stacks. I used most of the fabric in the above photo. The Marcia Derse and some teal curtain fabric were dropped. I created bias strips of yellow/red/orange to break up the dark area. At this point the piece measures about 45 inches long by 19 inches high.
Now comes the point I’m stuck at. I want to use narrow strips of a gradient fabric by Vicki Welsh between each stack. Right now my plan is to angle the edges of each stack, and possibly have the stacks at slightly different heights. But, before I cut more fabric I need to decide which way to run the gradient – top to bottom or left to right. Then, I need to decide if I want solid strips across the top and bottom and, if so, what colors.
I’m hoping you’ll have some opinions that will prod my thinking. Some possibilities work for color, but don’t necessarily contribute to the story. The story here is the impression you get of this wall as you drive by it on the street that runs parallel to it.
I’ve thought of blue for sky but the blue fabric I have is too strong and draws attention away from the trees. Below are some options I’ve pinned up. Most show only a few of the stacks as the insert fabric won’t stretch across the whole piece and I don’t want to cut it up and then change my mind.
I can understood if you’re confused at this point. If nothing else let me know which options you think really don’t work. I’ve become like a toddler – just give me two options for my outfit. Otherwise I’ll dither forever.
One last point about this piece – the printed fabric photographs much less vividly than the other fabrics. IRL the colors are stronger. Maybe the type of printing process used caused this?
I’m wrapping up 2021 with a throwback to tradition. What makes it neotraditional is the leaves, developed from a photo I edited and had printed by Spoonflower.
Each leaf is framed with solids from my stash, and hand dyed linen from the theater costume shop. The outer borders are Marcia Derse fabric. The binding is made from her fabric as well. Since I took the photos I’ve blocked the quilt to remove waviness.
I used three shades of red and a brownish gray to quilt swoopy curves meant to suggest wind blown leaves. The back is truly nontraditional, as I used hunks of very different fabrics that have spent far too long sitting in the drawer. I had planned to use the left stripe for binding, and it did finish the edges of a few quilts. Now, however, I mostly face the edges. The middle fabric could be used for measuring, in a pinch. The right fabric is by Paula Nadelstern and just shouted “look at me” too much for easy use.
For some reason I’ve been struggling to name this one. Possibilities I’ve considered include Sycamore, Found On The Path, and Ode to Autumn. There’s no hurry, as I won’t be entering it in any shows. My husband will be thankful there’s a quilt around the house he can “get.”
Like many quilters who have been at it a while, I have plenty of fabric. Years of trips to quilt shops and gifts from former quilters have fleshed out my stash. And the internet has made it so easy to acquire more. I keep swearing I’ll use only what I already have or create myself.
Then comes the message about the sale – 50% off on fat quarters! And it’s from Spoonflower, which means I can create my own fabric without any mess. The offer was too tempting for me to pass up, so I edited a few photos, including collages I’ve made, and sent them in.
This is a large collage with many different thicknesses of paper, which caused the piece to buckle. I should have done it on a board or heavier paper. However, I now have a non- rippled version.
I won’t use the above fabric as is, but will cut it up in some fashion.
I plan to cut up the three fat quarters into blocks and make an almost traditional quilt with them. Knowing me, it will be a summer project.
Here’s hoping I ignore all future fabric sale come ons. It’s not so much the money, but how many more quilts can I make, honestly?
Maybe it’s the season and all the plastic bones scattered about my neighbors’ lawns, but I went a bit dark for my latest work. It’s loosely based on a photo by Penny. I thought it had an unsettling, scary look.
First I did a rough sketch and used string to outline my desired size on the design wall. Then, I laid out fabrics I wanted to consider and began pinning chunks of them to the wall. I used two fabrics I had printed by Spoonflower plus various commercial fabrics, including some I had despaired of ever using.
I decided to use the photo as a starting point, rather than recreate it exactly, and ended up with this. I had to get creative with some of the seam joins.
I have to decide whether to leave the upper left triangle as is, or change it to the solid bronze color fabric. All opinions are welcome.
It finished about 27 inches wide by 42 inches high. Now all it needs is quilting and a title once I resolve the upper left corner.
Finally it’s done, I thought as I sewed the hanging sleeve on “Shattered” yesterday. Unlike most of my work, this piece has been a multi-year effort. I wrote about its genesis from a photo of a broken mirror earlier (here and here.) To recap, I had Spoonflower print fabric from my photo in 2019, did the initial composition in 2020, solidified the design in early 2021, and quilted the piece in June and July of 2021.
Usually it wouldn’t take me four weeks to quilt a small (roughly 2 by 3 feet) piece, but problems with my neck have limited my sewing machine time. Like Nora Ephron “I Feel Bad About My Neck.” In my case though the bad feeling is from pain, not vanity.
The materials I used besides the printed photo include hand dyed cotton and damask, silver lame, and novelty yarn.
You’d think I would choose to go light on the quilting. Hah!
I did walking foot and free motion quilting using six different threads, including metallic, which was a pain as usual. The edges are faced, but I tried sewing 1/8 inch grosgrain ribbon along the raw edges before adding the facings. It’s a technique for stabilizing edges I read about in a Jean Wells’ book. It seems to reduce waviness, but the true test will be on a larger quilt.
I’m relieved to have it done and be able to move on to a new project. At this point I can’t tell how I feel about it beyond relief since I’ve been so close to it for four weeks. I should reach a better assessment after I’ve ignored it for a few months.
As digital fabric printing becomes more prevalent, fabric users have even more choices for printing their own without resorting to the vagaries of their home printers. The latest SAQA Journal has a good comparison by the Pixeladies of fabric printing services. In the future I may try some of the services reviewed, but for now I’m sticking with Spoonflower as I know their interface and have been satisfied with their work. And it doesn’t hurt that they’ve been running 20% off sales.
I’ve turned to photos printed on fabric as a way to continue creating now that intense piecing is literally painful for me. I aspire to create work like the one below, but I’ve a ways to go.
Jill Kerttula uses fabric printed photographs as a starting point for her work. Her blog entry about “6 of Chaos”shows her process. You can see more of her work on her website.
From my latest fabric order I created “Corrugated,” which uses four fat quarters of Photoshop edited versions of a photo my friend Penny took. I’ve inset narrow strips of varying widths to spice up the palette.
I don’t know if I’ll add more embellishment or quilt it as is. Any opinions are welcome.
Inspiration for how to deal with another fabric from the same order has been slow in coming. This is another photo from Penny that I played with in Photoshop. I want to emphasize the gritty textures, and may add some of the fabric I painted for my Tansy Hargan class.
Just in case you wondered, I’ve never had any flower photos printed for me, though I’ve used photos of trees.
The pandemic has heightened my anticipation of mail. No more store browsing for me. I dash in, list in hand, and grab what I need. It reminds me of the name of a South Dakota convenience store I once passed, the Whoa ‘n Go.
The internet is all well and good for classes, resources, and keeping in touch, but I miss actually handling items. So, I look forward to brown paper packages wrapped up in string, or the modern equivalent of them. Recently I’ve received two packages that made their way to me in spite of USPS difficulties. (Three day delivery is a fantasy right now.)
First, my blogging friend Ann Scott raffled off four fabric artist postcards, and I was the lucky winner. Ann created the cards as part of the postcard class she teaches. You can follow her blog and her YouTube channel.
Second, Spoonflower ran a 50% off fat quarters sale and since I am unable to pass up a sale I had to have several of my Photoshop edited pictures printed. The price worked out to about $5 each. Most are on cotton, and I may cut them up or use them whole.
I had more printed which I’m not showing as I don’t want to give you any more reason to question whether my sanity has been affected by our current situation. Well, of course it has, but as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, who cares?
When I saw Spoonflower had their new signature petal fabric yardage on sale I knew it was time to print some of my photo-shopped inspiration pix. After some time trying various layouts available, I settled on the following:
Before, a footbridge over the Cuyahoga River:
Before, a shattered mirror backstage:
Before, a garden shed made of recycled soda bottles:
Before, construction materials:
How is the new fabric? It’s better than Spoonflower’s basic cotton and certainly equal to their Kona cotton option. As always, printing leaves the fabric stiff even after washing. If that bothers you, then this process isn’t for you.
No, I have no idea how I’ll use my new fabric, but it’s fun to consider the possibilities.
For a few months in 2018 I photographed shoes on people’s feet at rest and in motion. Why shoes? One of my volunteer jobs requires me to spend time in a theater lobby, and sometimes I have nothing immediate to do. I began to observe the groups in the lobby and became interested in what they did with their feet. I used my phone to take photos and a series was born.
I also took photos of people waiting in lines at an art exhibit and generally hanging around. Since I had so many shoe photos I stopped, and concentrated on digitally reworking some of the photos, using what skills I remembered from my PhotoShop Elements class.
After a deep dive into PhotoShop’s effects and filters and a frustrating time sizing the edited photos for printing, I had a bunch printed off by Spoonflower in an eight by eight inch format. I used a bulk test print format Spoonflower offers. The results were a bit mixed. I should have standardized my photos more. But I had enough to combine into a quilt.
The next step was to devise a layout with the 8 inch squares. I sure wasn’t going to cut them up. After several days and reworkings I settled on one. Then, in a moment of genius or severe derangement, I decided to do the squares as three separate panels held together with laced up grommet tape.
Through Etsy I found Lace and Trims, which provided a reasonably priced product and speedy shipping. While I waited I quilted my panels in a simple diagonal pattern. Then, I sewed strips of the grommet tape to the panel sides and bottoms. It was tricky to avoid the grommets, yet sew on the tape. Looking back, I should have paid more attention to the width of the tape and the spacing of the grommets.
After the tape was on, I sewed a hanging sleeve across the tops of the panels (the only point at which the panels are sewn to each other) and turned under that edge. I will hand sew the sleeve’s bottom edge, along with bits I couldn’t machine sew because of the grommets. One broken sewing machine needle was enough.
Now I’m lacing up the grommet tape with various cordings and need to decide whether to try a single color or a mix. Right now I lean toward red cord for the contrast.
I never realized there are so many ways to lace shoes. Check out some of the possibilities here.
One of the reasons I took all those photos in 2017 was to build up a stock of images I could manipulate and print out on fabric. I got an early start in December when I succumbed to a special offer from Spoonflower and tried out their fill-a-yard offering.
Last summer I got carried away and took lots of German expressionist shots of our newly painted deck.
I downloaded them to my Spoonflower account and started playing with different arrangements. You can arrange your image to print several ways: just by itself, in rows, in what’s called half brick staggered rows, and in mirror image. You can also change the colors in your photo (both the number of colors and hues) and do some editing of your photo via PicMonkey. So, prepare to waste spend lots of time jiggering with your images before you even decide on a layout.
For my order I decided to use the fill-a-yard option to print half yards of four photos, two per yard. I chose cotton sateen because I love its silky hand. Yes, it costs more ($27/yard) than basic cotton or Kona but it’s wider (56 inches) and hey, I’m worth it. You do get a bit of a discount if you’re the fabric designer.
I had Spoonflower print two of the deck photos, plus a shot of icicles on my neighbor’s downspout and a sun print I had made. My slightly manipulated photos are below. I changed them even more in Spoonflower.
For all of them I chose the mirror image layout as I love the kaleidoscope effects that can give. Did I mention you should set aside large amounts of time to play with all the possibilities?
It took 12 days from Spoonflower’s acknowledgement of my order to shipping, then a few more days for my order to arrive. You can speed up an order a bit by paying more for shipping, but don’t expect to get your finished fabric a day or so after ordering it.
How did my fabric look? (Please ignore the wrinkles)
I’ve washed and ironed my fabrics per Spoonflower’s recommendation. The color catcher I put in the wash showed almost no bleeding, despite the dark colors.
There are other fabric printing options available in addition to Spoonflower. Check out this article by the Pixeladies for their review of three services.