This is a quilt I started making as part of a ‘Hand-stitched Class’ from a blog called ‘Stitched in Color’ when I was in the dark depths of post-natal depression. The colours feel rich, warm and jewel-like to me which I find rather comforting. It is roughly a square shape, about 60in sq. Not only is it made from beautifully patterned fabrics but it also has plenty of hand embroidery and quilting to add to the decorative effect.
- When was this piece made and how long has it been in your possession?
I started making this quilt in the January of 2013, and finished it in the summer of 2014. The actual quilt construction was finished in about 3 months, but the hand quilting and binding took me about another year to finish.
- Who made it and where was it made?
I made this quilt myself, mostly sat on my sofa I believe!
- What is it made of?
The fabric which I used to make this quilt is quilting weight cotton, mostly made and printed in the USA. It is sewn together with polyester sewing thread and cotton hand quilting thread, then decorated with cotton embroidery floss and perle cottons. The batting in the middle is Quilters Dream Request which is 100% cotton and designed for hand quilting.
- Can you identify the techniques that have been used?
The centre of this quilt was made using reverse applique, three borders with mitred corners were then attached by sewing machine. The second of these borders (the white one) was then embroidered by hand using back-stitch, running stitch and satin stitch. Then patchwork sections were made on a sewing machine from solid coloured fabrics, joined in the corners by paper-pieced blocks which were sewn by hand. The next border is made from squares set on point joined by appliqued blocks made using bond-a-web, which is ironed on to hold the fabric in place whilst it is blanket stitched on by hand. Two more borders were then attached by machine, and the whole thing was stuck to the cotton batting and backing material with basting spray. The binding was then sewn to the front of the quilt by machine, before being folded over to the back and hand-stitched down using a ladder stitch. Over the next year, the entire quilt was then hand-quilted with particular attention being paid to the plain navy blue border.
- Was it made by hand or machine? How were you able to determine this?
A bit of both, which I know because I made it.
- What is its purpose? Do you still use it? If not, how was it used and by whom?
I keep this quilt on my sofa to keep me warm when I’m watching TV or knitting in the evening. It gets used almost every day.
- What does it tell you about the maker or the user in terms of gender, role in society, wealth or environment?
I think the colours used are feminine, especially the many pinks and pale yellows. This wouldn’t necessarily reflect on the maker though, as a man could use these colours with a female user in mind, however, sewing and quilting have traditionally been a female pastime. The decorative embroidery and applique show a certain level of wealth as it takes time and money to learn such skills and buy the materials necessary, whereas a plain but functional quilt could be made for much less. I think the fact that I made this item makes a difference to how it reflects on my role in society, as just a user it would be unremarkable as most people get cold and require a blanket of some description, it’s also different as I didn’t make this item to sell, I believe that the fact I made this quilt to go in my home where my family can benefit from its warmth and comfort shows that I spend my time caring for others and being creative. With regards to the environment, this quilt simply shows that it sometimes gets moderately cold where I live, it’s still fairly small and lightweight though as we don’t experience arctic-like conditions!
- What do you particularly like about the piece?
I love the colours used, they feel warm and comforting to me, and when combined with the various embroidery and applique used create something beautiful as well as functional to have on display in my home.
I’ve been having great fun doing quick timed sketches recently using video’s on Youtube called Croquis Cafe. Read the rest of this entry
For this exercise I managed to find two types of water-soluble fabric to try, one was a clear plastic film, and the other was opaque and felt more like paper. To start off with I tried out the plastic film with dark colours – I first stitched a grid on to the film with black thread using a straight stitch, then I went back over it using a zig-zag stitch in lots of different shades of blue and green trying to create a progression from to the other like you would find on the colour wheel. I spent a lot of time working on this piece as I thought it would require a lot of stitches to hold the new lacy fabric together, but when I dissolved the film I found my stitches had formed quite a hard and dense mat, so I decided with my next piece to try a few less layers of stitches.
As suggested in the exercise I then switched to using pastel colours, again I started off by making a small straight stitch grid – with white thread this time. I then stitched over the grid with lines of zig-zag stitch starting with the white, then moving through cream, various pinks, a golden yellow to a peachy orange, overlapping each a little to try and create a gentle ombre-like effect of it gradually darkening from the white to the orange. I still stitched this one fairly densely so I deicded to try again on the film using even less stitches.
For this third piece I again used the plastic film. but instead of making a grid I just stitched randomly around with a straight stitch, then switched to zig-zags of various sizes. I also included some small pieces of gold organza in this piece and I love the effect it produces. This one is much lighter and more lacy, I could imagine it being used in a fascinator or headpiece for a wedding outfit.
For my final piece I looked through my sketchbook for a drawing to work from, but couldn’t find any that really inspired me so I quickly sketched out a few ideas using coloured pencils. In the ended I decided to try and create some angel wings, but I obviously should’ve chosen different colours as the finished piece looks like a butterfly to me!
For this exercise I had to use a black background and two primary colours – I picked red and blue to work with. I tried mixing the colours together in two different ways, using small crosses and french knots. The crosses blend together when viewed from a distance, whereas the french knots are still very separate looking. I think the amount of background fabric showing through has a big effect here, with the french knots not much of the fabric is visible so theres a clear contrast between colours, but with the crosses a lot of black can be seen, which I think dulls the effects of the colours on each other. Also, the crosses don’t directly touch, just sit near each other, whereas the knots are pressed up against each other.
Using circles of fabric I isolated one bigger area of colour against a smaller strip of satin stitch around its edge, this gave a very striking effect, making both colours seem to pop out, I’d like to try this again with more neutral colours – it makes me think of pebbles.
I found when working that the reds I used seemed very vibrant, whilst the blues had a tendency so fade into the background, so I ended up switching to lighter shades of blue to create more contrast – all the different shades of blue mixed together create a really pretty effect too .
I also found longer, and bigger stitches showed up better than smaller ones, but are more easily caught and damaged if the piece is not handled carefully. Smaller stitches blend more easily into the background.
I feel this exercise also goes a long way to completing stage 6: exercise 1, but it was so time consuming to make that I abandoned adding more to it if favor of moving onto machine embroidery.
I’d been finding the subject of colour matching, and which colours play nicely together very confusing so I attended a workshop run by a local artist called Vicki Norman. One of the first things we looked at was how to accuratly match a colour.
Order of matching when colour mixing.
- Hue – colour eg. red, blue etc
- Value – light or darkness
- Saturation – bright vibrant colour through to grey de-saturated ones.
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For this exercise I had to express pairs of words using colours and marks. I chose the words happy/sad, bright/dull, active/passive. I worked in acrylic paints, and I’m most happy with how sad, and dull turned out, they feel to me like they contain a lot of texture, and I like the muted colours.
I then chose the evocative words envy and anger to try out colour associations on a larger scale! Read the rest of this entry
This exercise was all about mixing different colours and trying them out to see the results. I spent a lot of time playing around with colours (especially grey) whilst working through the book Colour: A workshop for artists and designers by David Hornung, as detailed in this post. That work was mostly done in gouache, but I also spent sometime experimenting with didffernt mediuims eg. oils, watercolours and acrylics as shown here.
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This week the art class I attend was all about value perception. The theory is is that it doesn’t matter what hue (colour) you use to draw something, as long as all the values, ie. light / dark / medium, are correct then your brain will still be able to understand the picture. Read the rest of this entry
Klimt is one of my favorite artists so I’ve been taking this opportunity to study his work further. This time I took some of the patterns and paintings I’d identified previously (here), and tried working up something similar myself. I noticed that Klimt’s patterns feel some how organic, they resemble fish scales, eyes and wildly growing plants. Personally I think the second one – semi circles on a cream background – looks especially effective and striking, even more so in real life. I also found that I managed to make all of these studies using only a small range of acrylic paints. These were White, Black, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Crimson, Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber – I later also added in some Gold as Klimt is well known for his ‘Golden Phase’, although I believe he actually used Gold Leaf, whereas I only had paint!
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