Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Quilting Q&A
Dear Melody,
So, I've been reading the art quilt ring and have decided I want to give that realm a go. I am a more traditional quilter and use patterns and store bought fabrics, not necessarily calico. I have some questions for you.
Did you start as a more traditional quilter using patterns? If so, how did you make the jump?
Do you create your own patterns from your drawings or do you just wing it by looking at the drawing you've made?
As I look at the drawings that you posted today, it looks like there will be several layers in some places. Do you use fusible webbing and fuse those layers together, then top stitch, or what?
I notice that many art quilters seem to use hand-dyed fabrics, is that the norm? What do I do with all the prints and tone on tones I already own? Do you use glue to embellish, what kind?I think that is everything. I love your drawings. They're so free. I guess I have to just let loose and let go. Be free! Maybe I need a margarita before I start! Ole'Anyway, thank you for reading, and if you do respond, thanks so much. I really appreciate it!
Jeri from WA
Dear Jeri,
Patterns and fabric: I did start out using books, not exactly patterns, to learn how to construct my first several quilts. I made log cabins and sunshine and shadow designs, but right away I wanted to make something that was an original design. I made a lot of dopey quilts in those days. I used and collected quilt fabric, and eventually amassed a MEGA amount of prints and quilt books. I still have many of the books but almost no prints. I sold them all to other quilters after I realized that I would only be using my own hand dyed fabrics for my work. I will still use a print as the backing fabric.
It is not a 'rule' that art quilters use hand dyed fabric, but what we want is a 'look' and that usually depends on the fabric doing most of the work. I personally want saturated color, and my special edition fabric provides that, plus it has a certain watercolor quality that I use to its fullest advantage. When one uses hand dyed fabric it is because the color has depth, not just sitting there on the surface.
And in the case of us fusers, we use hand dyed fabric for three reasons.
1. The cut edges are have no white parts since the dye is throughout the entire piece of fabric.
2. Hand dyed fabric stays fused permanently, since it has no 'finish' which would prevent it from staying fused. Commercial fabric has a factory applied finish which resists water, stains, wrinkles etc. and eventually peels up.
3. I never finish the edges of any of my pieces, so I want to have the color all the way through, and no poking up parts.
Making the jump: For me, it was easy. I wasn't in a quilt group of any kind, so I had no one making me feel that I was breaking away from the expectations of the group. This is a problem for a lot of people.
I had an art background and was experienced in designing something on paper, or on graph paper, so that was one way in the beginning that I charted out a design. I used paper for patterns and SEWED all my parts. But almost immediately I knew I wanted to use a personal line as part of the design. This is in response to the drawing which always was the most interesting feature of the design. That is when I began to use fusing as my construction technique.
What I mean by using a personal line: When one draws or paints, the contour or edge of the shape is not rigid. It has curves, jerks, wiggles, or something that makes it different than a mechanical line. I needed to make my shapes match my drawings, all wiggles included. The shape would be drawn and cut to match the drawing and then fused onto a background fabric.
Since I wanted my edge to be so important, I couldn't stitch it down, as that would RUIN THE EFFECT that was so carefully imbued into the design. I knew about commerical fabric lifting or peeling up, having experienced the problem, so I began to use dyed fabric exclusively. Also I was 'poor' and had to dye it myself, which is a whole 'nother story...
This kind of designing in the beginning was all for applique, but I realized that piecing by fusing works great too, so I used fused fabric FOR EVERYTHING I made, since 1993. (there was an overlap of techniques, beginning in 1989 but eventually I gave up piecing bed quilts entirely).
Just to be clear, I use only Wonder-Under, I fuse a half yard of fabric entirely, peel off the paper and then cut directly into the fabric.
The blog sidebar has links that show the fusing process, and then another one that shows how I go from an enlarged drawing to the pattern pieces, to the construction.
Do you create your own patterns from your drawings or do you just wing it by looking at the drawing you've made?
Yes, both. When I post the drawings, I usually state if this is a sketch for a larger work. I use the computer to scan and print a transparency for use with my overhead projector. See the quilting posts from all of January 2006 for this process in pictures.
In the case of the drawings from yesterday, they are ideas that may lead to making a piece, or just exercises that get the brain in gear. I do like some things that I drew and if today weren't a 'sitting at the machine quilting all day' day I would assemble a group of fused fabrics from my stash and begin by cutting and assembling shapes. I don't follow the drawings rigidly, but do refer to them for help when I get lost. So I guess that is in the 'winging it' category.
As I look at the drawings that you posted today (yesterday's post), it looks like there will be several layers in some places. Do you use fusible webbing and fuse those layers together, then top stitch, or what?
I cut away any fabric that may be completely covered by the top layer of fabric. This is easy to do, by just laying the top fabric in place and using a marking tool to trace the covered area. Then I remove that top layer, and cut away what will be covered, leaving just enough to fuse the top layer to something. Then it all gets fused.
I am working on a teflon sheet, like an applique sheet, and that means that I can fuse and peel and re-fuse, until the top is fully constructed. When it is complete, I fuse the whole top to batting. The fusible is already on the fabric from the start, so no more is needed.
I never top stitch. I quilt the whole thing later.
Recently I have allowed frayed edges to become a part of my work, and sometimes I will add a strip of frayed-fused-fabric to accent a shape. My thinking is, this is what fabric does, so why not take advantage of the texture?
Do you use glue to embellish, what kind?
In a word, ICK.
No embellishing here. There is plenty of embellishing going on out there without me. I am working on the less is more plan. No gooping up the clarity of my designs, please.
In conclusion, to be an art quilter, one must have a desire to make something original, personal or just not rigidly adhering to something that is the way it is supposed to be. One must want to develop one's own vision, and to be open minded and playful. It's all in the attitude.
Best wishes,
Melody

13 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:21 AM

    melody thanks this posting is really great and Jeri what good questions Julia

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous11:47 AM

    Melody--I am always amazed at how much you a willing to share (and I am sure everyone else is too) Great posting. One more question, how did you start selling your work, gallery or just exhibiting anywhere you could? Thanks---Jan

    ReplyDelete
  3. Melody, WOW! Thank you so much for your detailed answers to my questions. I'll be copying your answer and posting in on the bulletin board in my sewing room.

    I think I've got it now. I do sew with a group and doing different sorts of things from them might, as you say, be difficult. But, I want to give it a try! It's just a matter of freeing myself up and letting loose.

    Bring on the margaritas!

    Thanks again!
    Jeri

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Hello,
So nice of you to drop by. I love your comments, and if you would really like a reply, please email me at fibermania at g mail dot com