Saturday, February 27, 2016

Onward to "Earth"

One of the big challenges of these "Fiber Fall" chains has been to create pieces that won't flop over as they hang.  The other big challenge is how to do these kind of quickly, in batches, rather than creating each shape individually.  I thought I might use paper for the backing of the earth-themed chain, but didn't find anything in my stash that really appealed to me.  I even considered printing photos on cardstock, but decided against that.  I thought about using copper wire mesh, which would look really cool on the back, but I didn't have enough in my stash and I wasn't sure I wanted to invest a somewhat pricey commodity for the back of this piece. 

So I found this white fabric mesh, above, which I've used in many winter pieces, and painted a sizable piece with copper metallic acrylic paint.  It imparts a nice sheen as well as stiffening the fabric.  So that's what will be on the back - on to the front!

Luckily, I have quite an array of textured brown fabrics in my stash (not sure why).  Many of them are upholstery samples that have stiff paper glued to the back, other ones were given to me by my sister-in-law, leftovers from her home decorating business.  I also had a lot of nice brown cotton prints.

I even came across this interesting stretch fabric.  It is dyed in mottled shades of brown, tan, and aqua blue and is stitched with a brick sort of pattern and these pom-pom like embellishments.  I have NO idea what anyone would use it for (it wouldn't be good for clothing or home decor) , but I picked it up to use as the ocean floor in some under-the-sea pieces.

So I cut up all the different fabrics in long wavy strips, overlapped them, and stitched them together with the top edge raw.  I really like the way they look all together, like sedimentary layers of the earth.

The underside is kind of ugly, though, and all that white stiff paper will show through the mesh I painted.  What to do?

 I went through my stash again and came up with a large upholstery sample among the stuff from my sister-in-law.  The brown side is really the right side, but I decided to layer the pieces with this fabric as the batting and the wrong side towards the mesh.

I'm really liking the way all the fabrics interact with each other!  Now I have to add some stitching ( I may even add a little hand stitching) and cut this up into rectangles, then link them all together.  Almost done with #3!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

On a Roll...

I started thinking about my next Fiber Fall chain before I even finished the last one, so I was able to keep the momentum going and dive right in.  I made a sandwich similar to the one I made for the last chain, but this time I used a teal netting as the outside pieces and fusible webbing to hold everything together while I stitched.  I already had many wavy strips cut out of sheer and sparkly fabrics in this bright aqua blue left over from a previous project, so the process went pretty quickly.  Above is the resulting conglomerate fabric (for lack of a better word), which I cut into strips 1 1/2" wide.  I decided to use rectangle shapes this time, but still cut them into 3", 4" and 5" strips.  I linked them together in a similar fashion (3, 4, 5, 4, 3 etc) but this time I added an aqua glass bead between the shapes.  Here's how it looks so far:

Again, I'm trying to bring to mind the element water, and the color, shine, and sparkle of the fabrics definitely do that.  I think the graduated rectangles also bring to mind waves, and the way they twirl in the slightest breeze is reminiscent of the constant motion of the ocean.  It's very glittery and pretty, like the Caribbean, and looks different enough from the "Air" chain that it's obvious what they are.  I'm not quite finished linking them all together (threading them on the yarn and tying the knots is a bit tedious) but I'm glad it came together so quickly!  I'm even contemplating making a fourth one to round out the four elements, which would be Fire.  We'll see how much energy (and time) I have after the next two...

Friday, February 12, 2016

First One Done!

My first chain for FANE's Fiber Fall exhibit is finally finished!  Even though I only had two more 5" squares to make, I had a hard time coming up with a combination of fabrics that I liked.   I played around with a lot of different ideas, including incorporating a pinwheel block somehow.  I'm not very experienced with traditional piecing techniques but I found a great tutorial for a shortcut way to make them by the Missouri Star Quilt Company on YouTube (see it here).  I actually made a few in different sizes as you see below, but I still wasn't thrilled with it.  I just wasn't sure that it belonged with the other more improvisational-type raw-edge applique` squares I already made.

I was starting to get impatient about how long these two measly squares were taking me!  I kept going through my stash and going through my stash until I finally came up with this combination:

There was enough texture, contrast, sparkle, and visual interest to make a nice looking square.  Here's the result below:

 I chained them by size: 3", 4", 5", 4", 3", 4", 5" etc so there are only the three 5-inch squares but lots of 3- and 4-inch ones.  Even so, I had a lot leftover of the materials I created for them.  I'm sure I'll find another use for them sometime...  

I'm really liking the way the chain hangs and twirls in the air.  I'm glad I hung them on the diagonal. And I'm happy to be using up my stash!  A few years ago, my sister gave me a nice portion of the fabric stash of a relative of her husband's who passed away suddenly.  I promised myself I would make every effort to use up my stash before I kick the bucket, and I've kept that in mind even as I browse the aisles at JoAnn's Fabrics  ("Use what you have, use what you have...").  I've already got some ideas for the next chain that I'll create with the theme of "water" in mind.  I have tons of water-like fabrics, so it'll be another way to help use up more of my stash!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

My First Fiber Fall Chain!

It may not seem like a big deal, but I feel like I've been working towards making this chain in teeny tiny steps forward and it's so nice to finally see it come together!  As you know if you read this blog (anyone out there besides Norma and Vivien?), I started making 5" squares like the one on the bottom - one at a time, and kinda slow, with hand-stitched embellishments.  Then I went to the January FANE meeting and saw some of the techniques some of the other ladies are using (like cutting up a previously made, not-my-favorite-good-for-repurposing quilt) and started thinking about how I could streamline the process of making these small shapes.  

I began painting and stitching an old placemat with the plan to layer it with Timtex, stitch it, and cut it up.  That seemed to take me a month to get done (lost the thread, cleaned my studio, got distracted with the white lace piece yada, yada, yada) but I finally finished that this week and decided to cut them into 3" squares.  They look better than I thought they would, as you can see below.  But it only made about 12 squares and I knew that wouldn't be enough, so I came up with another idea to make 4" squares.

One of the talented women in the group loves to experiment and she had beautiful, delicate results layering dryer sheets and strengthening and coloring them with tinted acrylic gel medium.  I had this very light webby fabric that feels very much like dryer sheets but is already a pale blue, so I decided to try a similar technique.  I made a sandwich with the thin blue web on the outside and put some pieces of lace and angelina fibers on the inside with some bonash powder (a fusible in granular form). 

After fusing, it was stable enough to stitch and also print on, but was still very thin and wispy, so I painted it with a diluted gel medium.  My gel medium is matte and I was a little disappointed with the results, which kind of obscured the shine of the angelina and the detail of the lace.  I debated starting over with the last piece of that blue webbing that I have, but decided to muddle through with this one.  (These things will only hang in the NSQG show for one weekend - they don't need to be perfect!).  I added some more stitching, this time with metallic thread, and then painted on a layer of glossy Mod Podge (over which I sprinkled a little clear glitter).   After it dried, it looked like this:

Still not very exciting, but I decided to go with it and cut them up into 4" squares.

Funny thing, when they're cut up and held up to the light, they look much better!   They really do seem to capture the feeling of Air, which is what I was going for.  All three sizes of squares have the same spiral element tying them together, as well as the common colors and threads.  With the 10 or so pieces I've chained together on the diagonal, they do bring air and wind to mind.  I used pieces of a sheer ribbon stitched to the corners to link them and they turn quite a bit as they hang.  I'm happy with the results and will feel confident to have them hanging amid all the other beautiful work my fellow FANEers have made!  I only need to make two more 5" squares and I'll have enough to make an 8' chain.

(Then I just have to make two more chains...)