Monday, August 24, 2015

Art quilt guild challenge: Weave

Deconstructed screen print, check; hand-dyed fabric fused, check; hand-dyed thread, check; time crunch, check!

I am lucky enough to meet with a group of diverse and talented ladies once a month. If you don't have an art quilt guild in your area - start one! It's inspiring, and a great place to learn new things. One of the things the guild likes to do is have challenges. This can be...challenging! I sometimes find they take up too much time, so I participate selectively. I have a complex project on the go, and I really want to dedicate my limited time to it, but I haven't contributed much at the guild the past few months, and was feeling guilty.

With 4 days to go, I set about producing a quick quilt. I like to use the fabrics I've dyed, but that I'm not mad about for these kind of things. I played with deconstructed screen printing earlier this year, and made a series of prints that were an interesting exercise, but not fabulous cloth. The prompt was "weave", so I sliced the screen print, and fused some plain colors to match. This was a poor method choice. You'll see why later. 

I seamed the fabrics to make the warp, and free motion quilted in the opposite direction to make the weft. Or possibly the other way around. I'm not sure which is which! Horizontal and a vertical lines. You get the idea.

The deconstructed print had circles. I love circles! These were great embroidery opportunities, and allowed me to cross the horizontal and vertical lines, while playing with my hand-dyed embroidery thread. This was #8 DMC. It dyed beautifully. I love being able to create variegated thread. Unless I had a really odd color, I don't think I would bother to dye plain colors. I also love combining stitches. I did buttonhole around some of the circles, but I wanted something different. I did chain stitch around the inside of the circle, and then fly stitch from the outer perimeter of the circle into the center of the corresponding chain. I think it made quite a striking stitch.
Fly and chain stich to embellish circle shape
Of course there were French knots! When making these, the space in the thread variegation may not match the space you have to stitch in a way that gives you a pleasing range of color. Try making a knot, then taking the thread through the back of the fabric to a new place further away, making a knot etc. You are essentially making your own color spacing if you want a random effect, rather than a shaded effect, which is what will happen if you just use the thread as it comes.
Creating a random color spacing with French knots
Hmm, those buttons could have been sewn with a little more symmetry. 4 days people! Deadlines don't make for precision. 

To follow the weave prompt, I wanted to create a woven border, a la Laura Wasilowki. Here is where my very poor choice earlier comes in. Quilting with fused fabrics is a snap, as long as your fabrics are fused. There are 2 reasons for this. The first is that they will stick together.

 I had been in such a hurry to get started, that I sliced up my deconstructed fabric without fusing it first, and when I realized what I had done, I was too lazy to fuse 2 inch strips. Fusing larger pieces of fabric is a breeze, smaller bits is more of a hassle. No problem, I thought. I am weaving with 6 pieces of fused fabric, and 1 piece that isn't fused. The fused ones will hold the unfused one. This proved to be correct. No problem in adhering the weaving together. 

However, there is a second very important reason that fabric must be fused when doing raw edge applique. That raw edge! Without the fusible it frays like crazy.

How not to fuse
That was a bummer, but I decided to finish the quilt anyway because I see these challenge quilts as a way to get better at all the aspects of art quilting, from creating a design, making color choices, free motion stitching to binding. My miters are improving a little! Here is the finished result. 

Challenge quilt with "Weave" prompt
Next month we will have a SAQA representative coming to do a trunk show! Should be awesome!

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