Friday, May 6, 2016

Appliqué Quilt finish

Applique Quilt finish 46 x 59 inches all cotton.
This is the next new thing, appliqué pieces on top of an improvisational patchwork quilt top. I was inspired by several quilts and people to try this. Applique is hand sewing technique which has been used for centuries to decorate, using small shapes of colored fabric applied on top of a bigger surface. I used a simple big background improvisation and laid rounded squares on top with a layer of cotton batting in between to add extra puff to the attached applique pieces.

In this image you see the rounded squares and cotton batting cut and applied with long quilting pins to the background hanging on my design wall. I really enjoyed selecting fabrics and arranging my design before sitting down to baste stitch them in place firmly enough to finish sewing them down. The idea of making these rounded squares came from a hash tag on Instagram last year #squircles a word I had never seen but it seemed to be originating from the work of designer Carolyn Friedlander. She who advances the concept of "slow sewing" aka hand sewing and enjoying the meditation that ensues as you work stitch by stitch around a shape. 
I don't know who came up with the word and I am not sure I want to endorse it but square-circles mashed into "squircles" is kind of fun to say and it does make describing this sort of shape easy. Wonder if Websters will pick that up? I had hoped to join in a recent workshop on applique quilting with Carolyn my Washington DC Modern Quilt Guild held but I missed the entry time and had to settle for a great trunk show and talk given afterwards. It was fun because I got to see her and her quilts in person and compare my work to what I had seen on Instagram in her photos of these quilts. I was very surprised to discover I made most of my squircles many times larger than hers. She showed us the Aerial Grove quilt that really got me thinking I should try this, seen below. It's a series of squircles in almost a rainbow of colors which were selected very thoughtfully from a collection of 303 Kona Solids then sewn on to long blocks. Her squircles are about two to three inches in diameter. 

 The whole aerial grove quilt has these appliqued long blocks sewn together then surrounded by a low value patchwork improvisational composition to create a field around the rows of bold colored shapes. See a smaller version below.

Here in this last quilt we see a big collection of her shapes that are hard to name but very beautiful together as a series. She uses a very thickly machine quilted back ground to contrast her hand applique pieces. She gave us a tip I had to try when I got home about packing quilts. She folds them on the bias rather than squared to reduce the chance of making permanent crease marks in the quilt. The fabric is less likely to hold a crease when folded and stored on the bias and each time you unfold it you can refold in new places on the whole quilt to reduce fiber wear and tear.

I chose to hand tie the center of each of my applique pieces to secure the extra layer of batting inside the shapes. I was concerned that when washing that they might shift or even curl up inside and come out of the dryer with balls of batting wadded up. On the really big ones I added four ties. I big or long stitch quilted around each applique squircle and used a winding line to quilt the background. 

 These three images blown up by clicking on them will show you the overall quilting lines that wind in three rows back and forth over the surface. All hand quilted. I used a shirt striping from Denyse Schmidt, that I had been hoarding, for the binding. It was to bring all those darker sections together with the and frame the whole design with a little more patterning. I selected solid, striped, checked, tartan and doted fabrics for a more masculine quilt. All of the improvisation background and binding were sewn on my 1935 Singer #221 Featherweight portable sewing machine.

 It was a fun project and I learned a lot along the way about applique patches as with any new technique I feel like I could do it better next time. I would select smaller pieces to apply and do them on smaller blocks before I sew them together as a finished top. That will require a more planning than I did for this spur of the moment project. Since this is a nap sized quilt and I worked the applique pieces around the edges it went pretty well but I would have been easier to do this in sections, even perhaps in long strips like Carolyn did on her Aerial Grove quilt top.

Stacking pieces is another applique technique I would like to attempt for a future project. Shapes on top of shapes seems like it would be fun. In this quilt I decided to keep it simple and thought this form of applique piece, the rounded square or the squared off circle, brought to mind the shaped color field paintings and sculptures of a modern artist I admire, who recently died, Ellsworth Kelly. If you don't know Ellsworth Kelly's work yet, I suggest you look him up and try to find one in a museum because they are so wonderful in their simplicity of form and powerful colors! What an inspiration his work is for this modern quilter. From a recent exhibition at National Gallery of Art his printed shapes floating on the walls. He has other works in the free museums of Washington, DC

No comments: