April 1, 2019
We all just want to be great at whatever project we set our sights on, don't we? So what if we've never done it before!
When I first started taking art classes, I thought the teachers were unimaginative and just filling time by having us make color charts and value scales in class.
Hah! That's why they were the teachers and I was the student.
As I encountered new art materials, I realized it was well worth the investment of time to make color charts to start learning about them. What does the color look like when it is applied to a surface? If it's water soluble, how does it change when it gets wet? Often the applied color looks quite different from the color source (crayon, paint, pencil, etc.) I keep these charts handy and have referred to them often over the years.
The same principles apply to fabric and batting. I had a project in mind and an idea of how I wanted it to look but no real clue of how to do it. I also had a brand new fancy sewing machine that was light years beyond what I had been using.
Prior to this project, all my painted wholecloths had been on cotton. I wanted to use a shiny fabric to stitch my design and then color parts of it. So I made a small sample using the slippery polyester and the machine I could barely thread. The result was thin and limp, not at all like I wanted it to be. (And not pictured here.)
Serendipity stepped in when I saw a small quilt made with two layers of batting. Some stitching had been done through one layer of batting, some was done through both layers. The light bulb went off and I stitched another sample. You can see that one in the photo - "2 layers of batting".
Still searching for what I had pictured in my head, I continued making samples using different combinations of batting and key design elements from the line drawing until I was finally satisfied I had a good chance of being successful. I was/am grateful to have many creative people in my life who are willing to share suggestions.
Knowing how details blur together, I was smart enough to write down what I did on each sample so they can be useful to me again in the future.
Next I needed to understand how the color would behave on this shiny fabric. I tried many different colorants on sample #2 and labeled each one. The inks bled like crazy and it was important that the coloring stayed in the lines.
It was time for a new color chart.
I used every suitable medium I had in the house, recorded the order of application, heat set it, cut it in half, washed the bottom part, then sewed it back together so I could check for colorfastness. The top two pieces are on cotton: sample #2 and the little one next to it are on the same fabric I chose to use for the project.
Before even starting on the actual piece, I learned about the sewing machine, the fabric, the embellishments, the coloring and the quilting. The end result is much better than it would have been had I not invested the time to understand the materials.
Here is piece K of "Le Jardin" before finishing the edges.
You'll get to see the entire project in a future blog.
Spoiler alert, the ten person collaboration project, "Le Jardin", was juried into the spring 2019 quilt show in Paducah, KY.