Thursday, 22 March 2018

Busy Bees Patchwork

Your centre for City and Guilds Textiles and Patchwork
in South Wales

 Week 23 City and Guilds Level 1 Certificate in Textiles 7161

Machine Quilting

March 21st 2018

We are into our second week of machine quilting, last week we were exploring using the machine with the feed dogs in place and the universal sewing foot. When stitching through many layers i.e. top layer, wadding and backing, holding all the layers together can become quite a chore and something that many a quilt maker would steer well clear of. I know so many people who enjoy the patchwork piecing and yet the quilting or sewing the layers together is far from enjoyable. I'm the other way around I enjoy the quilting but stitching all those tiny pieces together is not my bag at all. I guess, they really are two separate skill sets and some people will enjoy the whole process of making a quilt and some will not, but there's nothing wrong in that you just need to pair up with a quilt buddy so one makes the top and one quilts it. Problem solved except who gets to keep the finished product? now there's a conundrum !!!
As a textile artist rather than quilt maker we are more open to the art quilt where precision doesn't have to play a part, we can think outside the box and experiment with the traditional approach to quilt making. I am not saying that as an artist we are not open to precision I love a neat and exacting finish but I can also appreciate a more open approach. For instance, applique for many was tiny pieces. hand turned and stitched with the most minute needles. A skill that would take many hours of practice to perfect, but now we accept raw edge applique with loosely stitched free motion sewing in a sketched like effect, and so it goes on evolving as new artists bring old traditions to the 21st century. This does not appeal to all and I sort of get that, hand skills are changing and they seem to be changing with our lifestyles. In order to produce art in a traditional way takes many many hours and is not appreciated as it should be. New methods means that for some they can make a living from their artistic ventures, using fabrics, threads and the machine or hand stitching in a freer more painterly way!


Below I used one of my cram jar dyed fabrics and drew out some stylised flowers and leaves with a frixon pen. Frixon pens are a great way of marking designs on to some fabrics (always test first especially on very pale coloured fabrics), once drawn they can be removed with heat such as an iron or hairdryer. (I am sorry this is not the best picture I have ever taken) I have used a gutermann cotton variegated thread with the feed dog up and using a universal foot. I wanted to show that even if you can't or don't like free motion stitching that you can achieve a drawn like effect with the feed dog up. It requires, I think a little more skill and patience than free motion stitching and there will be a lot more thread ends to deal with, but all in all I enjoyed the process. Using the feed dog does mean that my stitches are all the same and I can change the length of the stitch to create different effects. This was a small piece about 18" x 12" a large quilt would have proved a lot more difficult to manipulate, because of the amount of turns needed to make the pattern. 




This is Mels piece of quilting using the feed dog, She has used a piece of silk fabric which has been shibori dyed. I love her design for stitching which emulates the dyed design.
Just Fabulous!!



More pictures to come as the girls finish their work.

Now on to free motion, and I have to say this is one of my favourite things to do. Setting up the machine for free motion can be a chore so I have the perfect answer, one machine set up for normal sewing and one for free motion, problem solved. Well for me it is because I probably do as much without the feed as I do  with. I am very lucky to have some lovely machines but I also like using a little 30 year old Jones machine that was very generously given to us to use in our workshops and it doesn't have a drop feed but if you reduce your stitch length to 0 and use a sprung loaded darning foot, you can still achieve very nice stitching as long as the work you are doing is not too thick.



Below Rosie is practicing vermicelli. Sid the Bernina was having a little tension wobbly but we
worked it out in the end. Vermicelli is like riding a bike once you get the rhythm and the movement right, you never forget how to do it. Good luck Rosie I hope the penny drops and you'll be vermicellying everything in sight.   


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Below Celia is using the machine to draw branches and foliage on a hand dyed background.


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Below I have been playing with my cram jar dyed fabric. I was going to use the fabric portrait but when I turned it to landscape it looked so much like a coral reef so I just had to fill it with beautiful tropical fish.

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Here are a couple of finished pieces by Sonia and kay.


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Sonia has hand sewn these shells in the needle weaving method, she was inspired by a gate made by a local blacksmith. Such a lot of work Sonia it's a beautiful piece of work.

Below Kay has pushed the boundaries with her black and white mark making piece. Each individual square can be moved to a different position meaning that news and media is constantly changing and moving with the times. The background was painstakingly made by cutting up sentences from newspaper and on the back of the canvas is a magnetic sheet. On the reverse of the embroidered squares are also magnets so the pieces can be moved around.
I love the idea of this, to have a piece of work that is interactive is such a great idea. Very well done indeed !!!   

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Next week we'll be practicing some more free motion, trying out some different techniques, learning to use the tension correctly and generally getting used to the machine with out using the feed dog. 

Let's see what next week brings???

Make some time to stitch and don't forget to leave a comment we would love to hear your feed back.
Best stitches
Beccy