Friday, July 09, 2010

Process Pledge: Making the Seventh Treehouse
My jumping off point was the already established series Treehouses. I love these small works and wanted to add a few more to their ranks. Studying them on my design wall, I began by listing things they have in common.
1. House shape
2. Trees shapes
3. Dots suggesting leaves
4. Hand dyed fabrics that change color within the piece
5. Strip fusing
6. Some supporting commericial print/or prints.

To begin, I set up my fabric table and laid out the collected fused fabrics by rainbow. Each roll has several different values/shades/tones of a specific color, such as red. There might be red orange, pinky red, dark red, or some color-changing piece where red predominates. It's always a surprise to see what I included in the roll the last time I used it.
I only use regular Wonder-Under  and after fusing I remove the paper, never cutting through the paper while still on the fabric. I have tried other fusibles, but this is the best, least expensive, and widest available.
I have fused a bunch of vintage and more recently acquired prints, mostly dots and stripes, and a few irresistable Kaffe Fassett patterns. I don't like to use fabrics with really pictorial images in this work, as they distract from the kind of designs I make. Sometimes only a smidgen of one of these pieces will be incorporated into the work, depending on the scale of the piece.

 I made the decision to cut my batting 16 1/2" square, and cut four pieces, thinking I might make several more in this series. This way I can guestimate how large each of the parts of the design will become. And as I assemble the work, I can test the layout by placing the fused top on the batting and see what the remaining space needs and which placement looks the best. This is totally subjective, meaning that anything I decide will have to do, and what follows will be based on that decision, good or bad.
My first fabric choice will dictate the color scheme of the whole work, and I chose the red dotted Fassett print and then assembled fabrics that shared the colors in that piece. Then I disregarded that fabric totally, and fused up two other prints with limey green as their main color.
Don't think this is the first time I have lost my way this early. It happens all the time. I just go with the flow and see what works.
By the way, I fuse my work on a large teflon sheet which is available on line here.
The limey green Fassett print got the nod. I found a bright piece of hand dyed lime to coordinate and chose a red orange for my house. I cut away the fabric that was overlapping/underlapping by drawing a line just under the top layer (with my trusty sliver of soap) and removed all but the tiniest edge. I waste very little fabric this way and end up with nice shapes, usable for something else later. There is a nice purple evident in the print and I wanted to repeat that so I found a strip nearly the right shade and slid that into place, removed the overlapped parts and fused it all together. Then I ate an apple and some sliced Swiss cheese.
All the houses in the other quilts have a door or window shape so I looked for contrasting colors to make one for this red house. The turquoise blue stripes were applied to a block of purple, trimmed, sited and the underneath fabric cut away and then the square got fused into place. It is merely a habit with me now to cut away unnecessary layers. It has nothing to do with stitching through lots of layers, and everything to do with saving neat bits of color.

A multicolored background fabric was discovered which had the requisite coloration (luckily!) and I fitted it into the composition, lining up the edges with significant points on the design. I love this part. The negative shapes that resulted provide a place for the  necessary striped element.
Strip fused fabrics are an important component of this series so I needed to make some using fabrics that support my color scheme. That door is pretty wide open. A little orange, green, aqua, red, yellow, purples and reds, including prints...just about everything works at this point.
 Now I need to decide where this much of the design will go. Centered? Off centered? More on the bottom or top or what? I am not deciding to make borders for what has been assembled, but looking at this shape within the final format. 
There will be more design decisions and undecisions from this point forward, and as mentioned before, I just pick one and try to go forward from there.  Nothing is perfectly right or totally wrong. Just what pleases me at the moment.

After adding the additional fabrics to complete the planned size, I began to cut strips for the trees, and add dots for the leaves. I may add more or remove some the work grows on me. I know I will be adding hand stitching as I have done in the others in the series. The top is fused to the batting and the handstitching will be done through just the top and the batting, hiding all the knots and thread ends. Once the hand work is done I will sew on the backing fabric and using the Escape Hatch Finish, I will then add machine quilting to the piece, stitching next to but not on the top of the fused layers.

Stitching example from a previous Treehouse.


  1. What fun to see one of your beautiful creations come alive!

  2. Melody, you make it sound so simple to make such stunning quilts as you do. Thank you for sharing the process!

  3. thanks for taking us through your process! they are all so wonderful!

  4. Thank you for sharing the process. The final result is lovely.

  5. Was this fun to do in your newly renovated studio? I love the inclusion of the Fassett print... and I love the framing materials...those purples just make it seem enclosed and cozy! There isn't anything I don't the stripes and of course the poka dots!!!!

  6. Thanks for sharing your process, Melody! It's inspiring to see how the whole thing comes together. I love this series.

  7. Are you using any Wonder-Under that you purchased relatively recently? The reason I ask is that when I bought some last week, it looks different to me. I haven't used it yet to see if I notice any difference but figure you would notice immediately if something had changed.

  8. Great watching you work. Love this series of gems you are doing. Vibrant and Happy!

  9. Is there such a thing as Creativity Porn?

    Then why am I hyperventilating?

  10. Beth P.11:11 AM

    Thanks so much for generously sharing your process! I think that often I look at an artist's finished work and get discouraged about my own because I forget how much change and thought went into the creation of the piece. Thanks for the reminder!

  11. I hope you continue doing these process pieces. It is so thrilling to almost see your mind at work.

  12. Youv'e done it again. Amazing. Thanks so much for sharing you methods. I am like Sue, Thrilling to see your mind at work.

  13. How wonderful of you to share your design process. It is so inspiring.

  14. LOVE your process, I learn so much from you! And the resulting piece is a confection as usual!

  15. You are wonderful about sharing your process -- it makes me want to drop everything and get started on my own piece.

  16. I really like your storage method of rolling fused color families together. I'm going to do this! Thanks!

  17. Your generousity truly is overwhelming. thank you so very much!

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