This is where I breathed a slight sigh of relief as for the first time I had an idea of what I was doing! I have a quilting background in the last few years and although no expert know the techniques involved and have done them in quilting terms. However it is a whole new ball game not to be restricted by ‘the quilt police’ or traditional techniques and to be able to experiment freely.
I concentrated mainly on machine stitched applique methods as I can find hand applique causes some pain with suspected arthritis although plans are being made to overcome this as I do like the effect – along with the suggest herringbone stitch or buttonhole stitch it can also be done with very tiny stitches that are almost invisible. In machine applique I often use buttonhole stitch on my machine along with zig-zag but due to the nature of the fabrics I choose to work with I stuck to the latter – button hole is great for turned applique where the raw edges are turned towards the underneath which I felt was not necessary for what I wanted to do.
My first applique sample is a lot rougher than I am used to doing but I wanted to experiment with tweeds and velvets – the edges are simply finished with zig-zag stitch and give me an idea of how these fabrics work when I am used to solely working with cottons. I choose a fairly close satin stitch to finish the edges of better as this catches the loose threads and could have easily gone slightly wider and shorter in length too – in some cases I would do a second layer with the first very slightly narrower and longer and then the second wider and shorter as this can give a really neat finishl.
The second applique I used simple strips of cottons from my scrap collection but layering them over one another and letting one or two crease naturally despite the use of Bondaweb to attach them initially to the background fabric (ok it was an accident but I still like it!) – all edges finished in toning or contrasting thread. I have not chosen a stitch that is too short as this was not needed in this case.
I also experimented with layering up sheer voiles which built up rich colour – in the bottom samples on the left I have layered the same voiles (3 layers) with 3 different fabrics (calico, purple shiny and dark grey velvet) to see how the different backgrounds can produce very different effects.
In the top image I had tried 2 different variations of bonding with stitching – the left hand image was scraps of fabric sandwiched between a sheer layer and white cotton and over stitched on top. The scraps were backed with Bondaweb and ironed before threads and the sheer fabric were layered on top – this did really secure the fabrics and enabled me be more free with placement without having to worry about constant pinning. The second sample was using water soluble fabric to stitch the scraps together before rinsing and when dry sandwiching the resulting lacy type fabric between a blue mesh and lilac poly-cotton with more stitching on top. I admit I really do like the effects of this although the type of water-soluble fabric I have I am not happy with and have mislaid my favoured version which is easier to use – I have only used both once and will be trying this further.
I tried combining strip applique with free motion stitching with layered scraps and threads under sheer voiles – the strips of cottons I applied over the voiles and with additional voile over some tweed on the right hand side. This was experimenting with different fabrics and textures to see how they can be layered and to what effects can be produced – I love the tweed underneath the voile in particular.
I also tried what the course material states as cut-back applique but I know as reverse applique. I used a combination of velvet in both light and dark grey, felt, tweed and shiny purple polyester fabric and cut back each layer or to reveal the next whilst stitching the edges with a close zig-zag. I took the design from one of the images in my sketchbook (the first set of images based on decaying flowers) and simplified it for this sample. It was very freeing to use such a diverse range of fabrics and the contrasting textures with harmonizing colours I really do like.
The course material suggests experiment with Tyvek or Fibre film but at this time I have not been able to acquire any due to financial constraints and that of time – I have was ill much of June and have wanted to get this section done but will be ordering some in the near future to experiment with freely as it the material fascinates me due to the suggestions of colouring and stitching.
I have not done a huge amount of experiments but what I have done I feel I have a good idea of techniques and ideas that I can take further.
Finally the course material requests the working of a sample with the initial stages developing a design from my drawings. I am asked to look at shapes and patterns, the composition of shapes and relationships of textures and colour combinations. I was immediately draw to the bridge at Elvaston Castle and could not resist using this.
Several very rough sketches produced my final design – the patterns and colours of my original selection of fabrics plus a brighter check/tweed I felt would work with this design (all main fabrics purchased for this project are in my sketchbook).
I am very lazy admittedly with tacking and avoid where I can, (always have much to my late Mum’s annoyance!), but this did not deter me from stitching each section down in toning thread so the stitches were unobtrusive on the front. I did machine satin stitch the black cord fabric and also the purple tweed in the centre where I used reverse applique. The background fabric was, as suggested calico.
I kept the additional stitching simple and used complimentary colour as I did not want to take away from the fabrics themselves.
On the whole I am relatively pleased with this sample and it was a joy to use the different fabrics in combination to use a variety of textures.
I feel the piece has a balance and rhythm of its own in the shapes and colours and textures – the composition for me works well and nothing feels that it should not be there. I wanted to create a feeling of harmony with a gentle sense of calm but life and letting the fabrics themselves draw you in as they create interest through their colours and textures.
Guerrier, K. 2006. Second edition. Quilting from Start to Finish. Newton Abbott, Devon, UK. Quintet Publishing Limited.