Experimenting with quilt techniques

This is a close-up of a small reverse applique sample quilt in progress. Each of the circles is being outlined in a hand embroidered stem stitch using hand dyed perle cotton thread. It is a subtle, but effective outline that gives the circles more definition.

quilt sampler 3

The purple fabric was layered on top of a piece of blue fabric and then the two were stitched together in a grid. Some of the rectangles of purple layer were cut away to reveal the blue fabric underneath.

Then pieces of the colorful batik fabric was stitched as circles to the back of the blue/purple sandwich. On the front, the blue and purple layers were cut away inside the circles.

All the layers were backed with flannel for batting and a cream colored fabric for backing . Then the whole thing was machine stitched two more times along the grid lines.

Next, it was time to play with some thread embellishing. The circles were machine stitched around numerous times to give them an outer glow and hand stitched along the edge to give more definition. Hand stitched lines along a few of the grid lines add to the movement and balance in the quilt design.

The impetus for this quilt was twofold: 1. to experiment with raw edge machine reverse applique, and 2. to work without the constraints of traditional quilting rules.

The second one is an exercise in developing more freedom in designing and creating quilts. That does not mean that no rules were followed in making this quilt, just not traditional ones. Rules help to get predictable results. And once one has achieved a certain level of mastery of traditional rules in a given art form, then they are able to achieve predictable results.

Certain rules make sense for certain applications. That is how many traditional quilting rules were probably established. Most quilters have heard about making your stitches short enough that they are not toe nail catchers. That was a reasonable rule back when most quilts were made for the bed, but not necessary for art quilts that hang on the wall.

By understanding the basis of traditional rules, then it is possible to bend or break rules and make new rules with effectiveness in achieving desired results.

With the change in the purpose of quilt to a decorative art, the many of the same rules do not need to apply anymore. Setting aside those rules creates an opportunity to experiment with techniques that will yield different results.

quilt sampler 1

There was a third reason why I am working on this quilt. Having just had minor surgery on my foot and having finished my latest temari, I needed a new project to work on while I keep my foot elevated.

In the picture above, I have my foot propped up on a footstool with a couple pillows while outline stitching the circles on this quilt. I have my bright task light to make my job easier and I have my wonderful dog to keep me company.

quilt sampler 2

The idea of experimenting with new ideas and breaking rules must have been contagious. My sweet dog decided that she would try out napping on my end of the sofa behind me instead of on her denim quilt next to me. She must have thought it was a successful experiment since she stayed until I got up much later. She knows that the rule is to be on her quilt if she is on the sofa. She has stretched this rule to the point that often only a small part of her is on her quilt, like she is here. Truly, she is a kindred spirit.