June 13, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Posted in Patchwork | Leave a comment

A few of my friends from the quilt group are doing distance learning courses in patchwork and textile design, so naturally there’s much moaning and fuzzing over samples when we meet at the studio to procrastinate sew up a storm together. While I’m not crazy enough to put that many hours into a structured course, I’ve come to like the process of trying out things in small doses before comitting to a bigger piece, where undoing and trying again would be that much more annoying.

As an example, let me show you this year’s fabric for our challenge that we’ll present at our yearly exhibition in November:

The challenge is to visibly use this fabric in a small quilt sized 40*40 cm together with one other colour of our choice. The colour and patterning reminded me of the pebbled beaches our local river leaves when the water’s low. So I went on a short photography excursion to see what I could come up with by way of inspiration. In the end I settled on this image of the pebbles together with a bit of water and the reflection of the trees on the riverbank:

The water and the reflection appears to be mostly in different browns, so that’s what I went with as a second colour. Now, how to start transforming this picture into a quilt? Step one, use pencil and paper:

There isn’t much more to see than a few wavy lines for the different colors of the waterlines, and the big branches of the shadows. So, next question, how to sew this? Here’s where the charm of a sample starts to work its magic: I grabbed my intended fabric and started to sew a miniature version of my quilt:

The piece is about 20*20 cm, and by now it has all the elements of the final quilt that I’ve been working on. Things that I worked out using the sample:

  • The second brown is a very thin fabric that needed to be stabilized to work with the other fabrics.
  • How to do the branches: they consist of threads of wool, couched down with a zig-zag stitch by machine.
  • How to embroider the small branches: first I tried to couch small pieces of a brown sock yarn, but realized this was hard to pull off. Switched to stranded embroidery thread, and tried working with three and two strands to decide which weight would work better. Settled to two strands.

And that’s where I currently am in the process: embroidering all those tiny twiglets onto the quilt:

There are still quite a few steps to go, and I’m sure the sample will grow as well as the quilt itself in the process.


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