Saturday, January 4, 2014

Working small

It's a new year, and time to think about what I will work on this year. I see it as an opportunity to reassess where I've been, and what I've been doing. And, to spur some new ideas in the studio! I'm still making up a list of shows to enter, and other goals for the year.

SAQA is doing another trunk show in 2014 and requesting pieces that are 10" high x 7" wide. As I've said before, it's hard to work that small, but good practice. Working small means the composition better be very clean, and the details interesting.

I started by pulling a sketch out of a sketchbook to see if I could develop it into something pleasing.
The Sketch:

I liked the spirals running into each other and their interplay. Unfortunately, I didn't think through how I would actually do it in fabric. (Yes, I have been working with fabric for years, but sometimes I forget how hard it is to make it do things that could be done with paint.  Duh). I had a couple of pieces of newly dyed fabric that worked well together, so I cut out a background, fused another fabric and then cut some thin strips of the fused fabric on the bias.

In the past, I've fused curving lines with no trouble, but working in such a small frame was challenging. After fusing the spirals onto the background, I realized I would need to hold the fused pieces down with stitching, so the edges were satin stitched.

You can't tell from this little image, but the satin stitching looks awful. And where the spirals meet, it was very challenging to maintain the tension between the lines and still keep the stitching looking somewhat consistent. I also used the piece to practice some couching, which didn't work well. It needed an interfacing.

Back to the cutting table!

I decided to change the spirals from butting into each other, and instead, I put them in a vertical orientation. I also thought the cross like lines in the background of the first piece were distracting. Starting over again with a similar background and fused fabric, I ended up with the design below. Instead of trying to satin stitch it, a piece of tulle was placed over it, and then free motion machine stitched. It seemed to be getting a nice rich feeling to it so I kept threading new colors in the machine, and adding to the spirals.

When the piece seemed finished, I read the instructions and saw that the edges had to be finished. So a border was cut out of the fused fabric and after fusing it all the way around, it was stitched down.
I like it. What do you think?


  1. Judy from NorrhportJanuary 7, 2014 at 8:22 AM

    I think it's lovely. Reminds me of Spring ferns.
    Thanks for sharing your process.

  2. I too enjoyed reading about your design process. The second piece is excellent-I definitely like the vertical orientation. The quilting and hand dyed fabric are nice touches. Now I need to get to work on my piece.

    1. Thanks Jenny! I'll look forward to seeing yours at the SAQA conference in May.

  3. It's wonderful, Jeanne! The watercolor look of the background is so just right for the green/mustard/gold fern-like shapes. Nice work!
    Martha Ginn

    1. Martha, I'm hoping I will see you at the conference in DC and we can look at the trunk show together!

  4. Jeanne,
    Thanks for sharing your process. It enabled me to work on my piece for Trunk Show too.