Posts Tagged quilting

Tulip Field Quilt

As I am slogging away at reorganising my space (yes still at that), I have been unearthing a lot of unfinished quilts.  I tend to jump around between projects mostly when I get tired of piecing, bored, hit a problem, get a new idea, well pretty much for any reason at all. 

However I didn’t realise I had such a major problem.  I discovered 10 different projects that I have been working on in the last month!  Needless to say this was a bit disheartening, so I stopped and finished one.

  It took me a grand total of 2 hours to finish this quilt, photograph it and list it for sale .

I started this quilt after my dad sent me a link to pictures of Dutch tulip fields, the amazing surreal stripes of colour across the landscape begged to put into a quilt, I immediately ran out to my dye station and dyed the fabrics.  As soon as they were ready to use I dived right in.  I quit when the quilting wasn’t going right.  If you look closely you can see it has a quilted motif of tulips.  When I sat down to finish it up I loosened up the shape of the buds, and it just clicked.

So now I only have 9 current works in progress, but I know most of them are only needing a few hours work, and that makes it seem so much more doable.

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Adventures In Dyeing

I have decided to enter the Project Modern Challenge 2.  And I am finding it more challenging than expected (no pun intended). 

The challenge is to make a quilt composed of only one colour, in all it’s varying shades and tones.  The different layouts I come up with seem to have a lack, that I know I could easily fix, with the addition of a neutral or contrasting fabric.  But finding a solution that is within the colour family is far more difficult.  So I decided to dye a piece of fabric the palest shade of teal blue (the colour I have chosen), to use as negative space in the quilt.  Easier said than done!

I am a relatively new fabric dyer of about six months, but I lean heavily on my background as a wood finisher, where I would routinely custom match the colours of existing woodwork something that you had to do by eye, as the underlying colour of the wood always varied.  Meaning that I mix by eye, and don’t write much down.   So I couldn’t remember how much I needed to water down blue dye to get a super pale shade.  I decided, quite arbitrarily, to go with one cup of full strength dye in 14 cups of water.  It looked okay when the fabric when in, and I swirled it around for a minute and put it in a bag to set.  I went to check on my kids in the back yard for a minute and came back to empty the dye tub, and it already looked darker!  Now the main ingredient in the dye was turquoise, which is supposed to take 24 hours to reach full strength.  So immediately into the rinse water it went.  I think that may be a record for shortest dye setting time. 

After washing and drying it is a relatively light shade, but not the pastel I was looking for.  It looks to homogenous with the prints I have chosen.  Fortunately in my panic I had forgotten to dump the dye, so I poured most of it out, added a lot more water, and dyed a new piece. 

End result: I now have a the correct shade, and matching backing several shades darker, and I still have no idea of what proportions I need to make a nice pastel.  I just know it is a lot more than 1:14

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Quilting it Myself

I have been considering how to streamline my process, to make my business more profitable.  It has been suggested to me several times that I outsource my quilting to a long arm quilter, and just make the quilt tops myself.  Many quilters do this.  (although are you really a quilter if you do not quilt?)

A truly wonderful quilter Robbi Joy Eklow says  “For some people quilting is a means to hold the quilt together.  For me the opposite is true; The quilt is there to keep the quilting thread from flying off into space.”

I am not quite at that point, however  to me the actual quilting, whether it is of one of my whole cloth applique quilts, or a patchwork top, is at least half of the artistic expression.  This might seem odd to someone who is primarily interested in patchwork and creating quilt tops, but for me quilting is not an afterthought to just hold a quilt together, it is a fully realised part of the design process.  And it is something I simply cannot hand off to another person.

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Why Organic Quilting?

A few years back I decided to become an organic quilter.  It was not a sudden decision, or even particularly dramatic, but was rather the next logical step in my lifetime of crafting, and a my love of natural fibers.

As a kid growing up in a farming area of Australia I was surrounded by conventional agriculture.  It seemed crazy to suggest that crops could be grown without chemical pesticides and fertilizers.  I had never even heard of organic.  But I also remember the river becoming dangerous for swimming and drinking due to run off from the cotton fields.  I remember irrigation ponds so big you couldn’t see the other side.

At the same time I was learning different hand crafts from my mother and aunts.  I developed an increasing love for natural fibers.  I loved the smell and feel of raw wool, of raffia, of linen, and silk.  I learned more about how these fibers are produced, and of course was gradually exposed to more information about what fibers were more sustainable and easily produced.

Flash forward 10 years and I had quit my job in the toxic wood finishing business so I could have a safe pregnancy.  With more time on my hands, and a new house to fill I began crafting more in general, and quilting in particular.  I, like most quilters began building a significant stash of fabric.  After a while I began selling quilts.  I needed some wide width fabric to use in whole cloth quilts, and as backing, my search led to Harmony Art Fabrics  which was at the time was the only source of organic cotton suitable for quilting.  The prices were a bit higher than conventionally grown cotton, but quality was great and the fabric was 110″ wide.   The rest, as they say is history.

Yes I do still use conventionally grown cotton (that enormous stash remember?) But I have been happy to see the availability of organic quilters cotton grow over the last few years.   So why organic quilts?  Well really why not use the best quality materials available?

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