This is the year I’ve promised myself that I’ll start putting all those wonderful techniques I’ve been learning and reading about into practice. One of those techniques comes from an interesting book called Bold and Beautiful: Artful Quilts from Just One Fabric by Judi Dains. The basic idea is that you draw images (in her case, flowers and leaves) onto fabric (typically, hand-dyed or batik); you then stitch the images with thread and color them with paint. Click the link above and take a look at the cover of the book if you’re interested in an example of the “artful quilts” Dains creates this way.
It’s a technique I’ve wanted to try to for a while, but I didn’t quite trust myself to draw the images from scratch. I ran across a sort of “cheater” fabric in Salado that was on sale for 1/2 price. Not only is it lovely in its own right, but I knew right away I could start with this and just fill in a little for my flowers & leaves:
So, that’s what I did. I started with a very small test piece (my weekly 6x6” journal square), drew in some details on the fabric, then thread-sketched them in with heavy black thread. Then, because I wanted to make sure the fabric paint covered up the green, I undercoated the images with white:
Once the white was dry, I added color. I decided to go with Tsukineko inks rather than paints, since they’re so easy to apply. I also added in some fabric markers here and there. Here is the piece with color added:
Then, onto the thread-painting. I used variegated rayon threads for this phase. I had already made a quilt sandwich with thin cotton batting and backing fabric, but the inks bled through to the back, and tension problems left the back looking not-so-nice. Plus, all the thread sketching had flattened the piece a lot. So I re-sandwiched with more batting and new backing fabric, and this time I left a wide border that I could roll into a self-binding. Here is the finished result:
This was a fun technique, but I’m not as thrilled with the results as I thought I would be. I may have missed something in the process by starting with the floral fabric. Rather than transforming colored hand-dyed fabric into a floral art quilt, I transformed floral fabric. Not quite so satisfying, I think.
At any rate, I probably will try this again on a larger piece of fabric; I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll use the same lovely green floral fabric, or whether I’ll throw caution to the wind and try my hand at my own floral images on some hand-dyed fabric.