Monday, January 18, 2016

January 2016 Art Quilt Challenge

Some folks in Sit and Stitch wanted to do an art quilt challenge in 2016, so I'm joining in. The idea was to play with new or less-familiar techniques in a small (48" perimeter) format, on a monthly basis. For January, I thought I'd experiment with water soluble wax pastels.

I ordered some PFD (prepared for dyeing) muslin and started coloring. These look and color a lot like crayons. Which is more or less what they are. Crayons for grown-ups.

After coloring, I just took a paintbrush and some water and started painting the fabric. It's best to line your table with plastic before beginning. The colors blended and soaked into the fabric, creating a nice watercolor effect.

I heat-set the fabric with an iron (the heat will help the pastel to stick, but I wouldn't wash the fabric). Then I sketched a simple landscape on paper. I used a freezer paper pattern to iron to the back of fabric for a machine applique project. I turned the edges under and starched them.

I haven't done a lot of machine applique. I was never really pleased with the results because you can see a stitching line and it's difficult to keep that stitching line right on the edge of the applique piece and not wander off. This time I decided to try using the Singer 99, and it worked great. Using a hand-cranked machine gives you great control and accuracy with machine applique. This will definitely be my go-to machine for precision sewing tasks in the future.

After the top was finished, I sewed it to the backing with right sides together and then turned it right-side-out so it didn't need binding. I machine-quilted it on the Megasaurus. The interfacing that I used added another layer to the quilt, and I definitely felt the difference in thickness during the quilting process. The machine quilting is much more dense than usual, and it was difficult to get a smooth line when working on such a small scale and with such a thick quilt.

The quilting is done and the January art quilt is finished. I experimented with tying off and burying the thread tails from the machine quilting. It took some time but looks good--no thread build-ups where you begin or end a line of quilting. From a critical perspective, if I had it to do over again I would have used a different fabric for the sky--the colors are too intense and it looks too much like the landscape below it, so it flattens the quilt--a lighter, grayer, less-intensely-colored fabric would have given the quilt more depth. Overall, not a bad art quilt experiment, though.