Quite some time ago I participated in a class taught by Pam Beal at Woodland Ridge Retreat. The class Minimal Design, Maximum Impact focused on creating fiber art pieces that use a limited pallet of colors and/or design features. Today’s reveal has a limited color pallet but definitely not a limited number of stitches.
Testing 1, 2, 3 was assembled from test samples of four different construction methods: fabric strip manipulation, triangles, fractured circles and wedge piecing. All four were merged together to form this art quilt. The new creation was then surrounded by a border of black cotton fabric. Added for embellishment were four wool circles and a myriad of hand quilting stitches. Perle cotton was the primary thread used. To complete the fiber quilt an envelope of black cotton fabric was added to the back along with a hanging sleeve and a label with identifying features. Measuring 20 1/4” x 12 1/4” Testing 1, 2, 3 may be minimal in size but nowhere near minimal in impact.
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What do you think of when you hear the words relaxed fit? For me it conjures up a comfy pair of denim blue jeans. Now what do those two words have to do with the art piece I am about to reveal? Read on and you will see.
June, 2019 I had the opportunity to attend QSDS (Quilt, Surface and Design Symposium) at the college of arts in Columbus, Ohio. It was the second time I attended their summer program. One of the instructors I chose to study under was Lisa Binkley. Lisa is a fiber artist from Wisconsin. She is well known for her eco-dyed fabrics, elaborate beading and hand stitching. Even though I know Lisa personally and can visit her locally I decided to attend her two-day class.
During Lisa’s class she discussed the characteristics of a Boro item, shared examples of its application and gave demonstrations of the stitching. During the remainder of the class we applied our knowledge by creating our own brand new art piece.
Along with items from our own inventory we were encouraged to include specimens from Lisa’s array of fabrics. One of the items I decided to include was from a pair of my old blue jeans. The jeans, well-worn and tattered from hours of use, had the label containing the trade brand of Relaxed Fit. Lisa often uses labels from discarded clothing to embellish her projects. Following in my teacher’s footsteps, I too decided to do the same. The label caught my eye because it reminded me of the relaxed nature (raw-edged appearance) of the scraps that would potentially be added to my piece. From that moment on I just knew it would receive a predominant place on my art quilt.
Relaxed Fit was assembled using pieces of denim from my old blue jeans (you can still see the stains from hours of gardening on my knees), sections of eco-dyed fabrics I made while attending one of Lisa’s other classes, scraps of silk organza leftover from previous projects, segments of lace harvested from larger items, fragments of old neck ties, hints of the old quilt secured on the back, and kantha cloth I purchased from the internet (kantha cloth is fragments of old saris layered on top of one another then hand-stitched together). Sandwiched beneath my fabric design is a section of an old quilt I rescued from oblivion years ago.
The many layers that comprise my fiber art piece were hand-stitched together using complimentary colors of Perle cotton thread. No attempt was made to hide knots either on top, inside or on the bottom of my art quilt. In some places threads were deliberately unraveled and left to dangle freely. As you peruse the surface of the quilt you will also discover lengths of Perle cotton that extend beyond anchoring knots. They too add elements of design not seen in a typical quilt. Surrounding all four sides is a binding of black cotton fabric.
A glance at the back of this amazingly unique art piece reveals the erratic twists and turns taken by my stitching. Without the distraction of multi-colored fabrics, the individual stitches are allowed to exude their own art element. Also included on the back is a fabric sleeve for hanging as well as a label with identifying features. This unique one-of-a-kind fiber art piece is incredibly soft. The nature of the used fabrics combined with the backing of the old quilt meld together to create the pleasing softness.
All of the distinguishing features of Relaxed Fit, Art Piece # 112 have made this an art piece that outshines any other.
This fiber art piece has made a wonderful addition to my portfolio. I am so grateful that you were here to join in my reveal.
Many times, after learning a new skill, I find myself making multiple fiber art pieces using the same techniques. Today’s reveal is an example of that tendency. Black, White, and Gray, Art Piece # 111 was assembled using the Boro stitching lessons I learned through Maday Delgado. I had the wonderful privilege of taking one of her classes in March, 2019 at Blue Bar Quilts. The First item to result from her teachings was A Boro Collage, Art Piece # 110.
This second specimen focused on the color pallet of white, black and gray. Having never made a fiber piece with just those three colors, I decided to use the concept on this item. Black, White andGray, just as with A Boro Collage, was created from raw edged fabric scraps. Except for a few synthetic fiber fabrics most of the scraps contained within this art quilt are 100% cotton. The scraps vary in size and pattern. The Boro stitching was applied with similarly colored Perle cotton thread using somewhat parallel lines. Almost all of the knots used to secure beginning and ending points in the stitching are displayed on the front of the piece. Occasionally a tale of extra thread was left to dangle freely; adding an unexpected element of interest. The outer edges of my art piece were surrounded by a white on black cotton binding. On the back is a fabric sleeve for hanging as well as a label with identifying features. The varied colors, stitching and fabric designs give this fiber art piece a one-of-a-kind appearance.
I hope that you enjoyed reading about and seeing this lovely addition to my portfolio. Inspired to share your thoughts? You can express your feelings by adding a comment.
I have had so many wonderful opportunities to learn from the experts in the world of fiber arts. Just over one year ago I attended a Boro stitching class taught by Maday Delgado. Boro, according to Wikipedia is:
Boro is a class of Japanese textiles that have been mended or patched together. The term is derived from Japanese boroboro, meaning something tattered or repaired. As hemp was more widely available in Japan than cotton, they were often woven together for warmth. Hemp usage was necessitated by the fact that cotton, a tropical plant, could not be cultivated in cold areas such as the Tohoku region, especially the northernmost region of Aomori Prefecture. Furthermore, during the Edo period, fabrics made from silk and cotton were reserved for only a select portion of the upper class. Boro thus came to predominately signify clothing worn by the peasant farming classes, who mended their garments with spare fabric scraps out of economic necessity. In many cases, the usage of such a boro garment would be handed down over generations, eventually resembling a patchwork after decades of mending.
The class was held at Blue Bar Quilts (one of my favorite fiber art vendors). Maday’s warm and approachable personality make her an inviting person to learn from. Our class was filled with individuals, of all skill levels, eager to learn her approach. I thoroughly enjoyed participating in Maday’s class. The techniques I learned were combined with my previous knowledge to create the art piece I am sharing with you today.
Known as A Boro Collage, Art Piece # 110, this item incorporates scraps of fabric collected from the class as well as my own inventory. The scraps, radiating from warm colors on the left to cool on the right, were layered over a white cotton batting. All of the stitching was done on just those two layers. Maday believes that the back of a hand stitched art collage is just as beautiful as the front and as a result should not be hidden behind opaque fabric. Therefore my silk organza backing was not added until my piece was complete.
For most of the stitching I used a Sashiko thread. This thread is made from a multi-strand, tightly twisted, very soft, heavy-weight cotton. The strands cannot be separated as with regular embroidery floss. The thread, when subjected to moisture will expand slightly making it less likely to pull out. You can purchase Sashiko thread in a variety of colors.
As you examine my art piece, notice that the rows of stitching do not all extend from one edge to the other. Some of them form angular shapes while others create a curved motion. Also of interest is the exposed knots, the dangling lengths of thread and a most unusual stitch design known as Fish Tale. The dangling stray threads and exposed knots are design elements that Maday believes can add interest to your art piece. A Fish Tale is created using individual lengths of thread applied in rows of stitching that arch up to form a curve and then return back down. Extra thread is left dangling at both the beginning and ending points of the pattern. I’ve included a photo of one of the added Fish Tales below.
To give my art piece a more rustic appearance I used an unusual binding. Once my stitching was complete raw-edged scraps of fabric were placed right side down on top of my art piece. A row of machine stitching was used to secured them. The scraps were then folded to the back and stitched in place with Sashiko thread.
I’m so happy you were able to share in this reveal. I hope that you enjoyed reading about and discovering the uniqueness of my fiber art piece and that you will feel inspired to leave a comment.
A friend of mine asked me to choose a project for both of us to work on simultaneously. She lives about two and one half hours away; the traveling distance meant we would work on our projects independently. The deadline for the completion of the item was February, 2019. I was assigned the task of choosing the general guidelines. I selected red, teal and black for the must use colors. I also encouraged my partner to utilize the techniques outlined in Cindy Grisdela’s book Artful Improv.
Before the month was over I had this lovely specimen completed. Measuring 24” x 22” Exploring Shapes, Art Piece 95 easily met all of the requirements.
If you have really great eye sight you might be able to read the placard displayed above my art quilt. On the card is the details of my project. This art piece was part of my September, 2019 solo exhibit at Blue Bar Quilts in Middleton, Wisconsin. Exploring Shapes is currently on display in my home.
Best wishes for a pleasant and productive day!
Exploring Shapes, Art Piece 95
Exploring Shapes is a one of a kind art piece. Measuring 24” x 22”, it was constructed from cotton fabrics.
I was once a subscriber to Missouri Star Quilt Company’s Block magazine. The magazines I received are still resting on the reclaimed cabinet in my office. Shown below are some of them.
I’ve spent many hours browsing the pages of each one of those books. On the back covers I wrote the names of the quilts I might oneway like to make.
One of the many quilts I fell in love with was the Teacup quilt, published in the Fall Vol 1 Issue 5 magazine. As you can see by the above photo it was one of the projects I listed on the back cover.
Let’s Make It!
Having fallen in love with the Teacup pattern I set-out to make one for myself. After browsing the Missouri Star Quilt Company’s website I chose a grouping of fabrics to purchase for my project. Buying the fabric, for me, is always the easy part. Finding the time to make it is what’s hard.
I had the fabrics for the quilt sitting in a tub for more than a year. Last summer, on one of my sewing retreats, I finally was able to get started. The quilt was a fun and easy quilt to assemble. Unfortunately the pattern has an error. It wasn’t until I had all of the blocks made that I discovered it.
A Pattern Error!
As I laid out the blocks to decide on their placement I realized I only had half of the blocks the quilt pattern called for. Being puzzled by this revelation I went back to the book to figure out where I went wrong. As I studied the pattern I realized that the quantity of fabric called for in the pattern was incorrect. The pattern listed only one package of 10 1/2″ squares (aka layer cake). In order to make the correct number of blocks I should have purchased two packages.
Letter to the Company
I contacted the company to point out the error. They thanked me for the information and credited my account for $5. I guess the $5.00 was supposed to make me feel better. $5.00 was not going to make it possible for my quilt to ever be the size I was anticipating.
No Longer Available!!!
Since I waited so long to actually start making the quilt the fabrics had since gone out of print and were no longer available. On top of that I had purchased enough fabric to make the quilt backing to the correct size. Obviously I can use the extra fabric on another project, but that’s not the point. Had I known that my quilt would be much smaller I obviously wouldn’t have purchased as much. Thus, their $5.00 compensation paled in comparison to my level of disappointment and the amount of money spent on this quilt.
MSQC’s Pattern Corrections
Missouri Star Quilt Company publishes a list of pattern corrections for its subscriber to refer to. As of today the error that I found is not listed on that Missouri Star Quilt Company’s pattern correction list. I’m disappointed that my revelation has not been shared on their website. If you decide to make the quilt yourself make sure to adjust the amount of fabric that you purchase. Otherwise you too will be disappointed.
Ok, enough about my disappointment! Let’s get back to my very pretty quilt.
In December of 2017 I was able to finally find time to finish my Teacup quilt. Using a straight-line geometric pattern, swirls, a paisley design and white thread I quilted my Teacup project on my longarm machine. Here’s how my sweet little quilt looks now.
Throwing aside the disappointments associated with my experience, I must say that this darling little project sits very high on my list of favorite quilts. I am so pleased to have it in my arsenal of finished quilts. 🙂
Thank You so much for visiting with me today. I look forward to our next encounter.
Note: At the beginning of this post I mentioned that I was once a subscriber to the Block magazine. My experience with one of their patterns and the company’s failure to correct the issue had nothing to do with cancelling my subscription. I made the decision to stop receiving the magazine because I felt I had more than enough ideas for possible quilts to make in the future; let alone finding the time to make them all. I’ve also found improv quilting to be my preferred avenue to follow. I’m not saying I would never make a pattern quilt again; it’s just not as likely as it once was.
From a bag of scraps to a finished item this project has had quite a ride. The top, all by itself, is gorgeous. I just love the soft feel of the fabrics as my fingers lightly stroke their surface. The visual impact of the colors is equally as pleasing. Their varied hues entertain my eyes with an explosive pallet of color.
With three of my senses already engaged, how could this quilt get any better? The answer just has to be quilting! Being the creator of the quilt means I am in-tune with every fiber and every inch of its surface. This connection gives me an advantage when it comes to finishing it. From day one my mind was day dreaming about how I would quilt it. For Bits and Pieces it seemed only natural to compliment its design with straight-lines and geometric shapes.
Lets take a look at my Bits and Pieces to see how it turned out.
I think you will, agree after seeing the above photo, that this is a warm and earthy art piece.
There are so many of my favorite colors represented in the above photo. The bright orange and gold the calming blue and lively green. All of them work together to create a grouping that will continuously draw your eye from one area to another.
This photo was taken just slightly east of the previous one. The black and white floral fabric is another of my favorites. I like how the author used only two colors to create this striking, organically flowing design. My love for the fabric can be evidenced by its repetitious placement throughout my piece.
Many of the blocks within Bits and Pieces morphed drastically from their original versions. The two blocks on the right are great examples. Unfortunately since I failed to document their journey I can’t prove it to you. You will just have to believe me.
The area captured in this photo can be found north of the previous snapshots. In the bottom left corner is my reformulated log cabin block. I spoke about the block in more than one of my previous posts. Finding a design that the block and I could agree with was a lengthy process. I’m so glad I didn’t give up on it. This final version is spectacular.
The other blocks in this photo went through their own versions of reincarnation. They too are far more interesting now than their original versions.
I love all of the blocks in Bits and Pieces…but if I had to choose a favorite or two, I would nominate these two for that honor. I just adore the bright orange alongside the cooling mist of the blue in the adjacent block. The blue adds pizzazz with it’s bursting white images. Strutting through it’s center is a section of my original strip-pieced fabric.
The orange block, with it’s unevenly pieced borders, sports an interestingly pieced center section. Smack-dab in the center of the block is another section of my strip-pieced fabric.
The back of a quilt is not typically something that would draw our focus. From a longarm quilters perspective it’s often the best place to observe our work. With this quilt the solid color allows the abstract stitching to take center stage; there are no patterned fabrics to distract from the design. I’m quite pleased with the reflection I see in my stitching. From this photo can you see that my quilting was just as earthy as the fabrics I aimed to accentuate.
I had so much fun photographing this quilt. The fabrics are just so rich and inviting. I know I went way overboard with the quantity of photos that I took. Because I kept my shutter rolling it was so hard narrowing down the number of photos to share. I know that I have only scratched the surface of the possible angles I could have taken. Thankfully, I’m so very proud to have Bits and Pieces hanging in my entryway where I can see it everyday. Anytime I want to get a closeup all I have to do is pause and allow my eyes to take in the beauty of my Bits and Pieces.
A Slow Rendition
Well, there you have it; the finale of my story about Bits and Pieces. It has taken quite a while to get us to this point. Well-thought-out art develops slowly and so too should the telling of its story. There is no need to hurry along. Hasty renditions loose sight of the many important details and as a result the reader looses touch with the impact the author desires to portray.
I have been so enriched by the journey Bits and Pieces and I have taken. My exposure to the world of improv art has been enriched through this adventure. Having successfully created another art piece, the experience has fanned the flames that fuel my desire to continue on this path. I hope one day to share my enthusiasm for this piece with the owner of Handloom Batiks. She is ultimately the spark that is responsible for the birth of Bits and Pieces. Without her fabrics my piece would not be as rich in texture and interest.
Woohoo! What a Ride!:)
Your Participation Means A Lot
I hope you have enjoyed following along! I love sharing my time with you and receiving your comments. Thank You for being a faithful follower!
For those that just joined in or those that would like to relive my quilt’s journey I have provided links below to the posts that have woven this story. Please enjoy!
Who knew that I would still be working on AQ # 33: Bits and Pieces after five days? As I have said before this is a very l o n g, s l o w process. At times it almost seems painful. But to coin a famous phrase, “Rome wasn’t built in a day!”
For those that just joined me let me provide links to the other four posts.
At the end of day four this is how my art piece looked. Day five presented itself a bit differently. I still did more, “What if,” manipulation but I focused most of my time on actually stitching the blocks together into sections.
Shown above is another version of my block arrangement. If you compare the two photos you can see that most of the rearranging took place in the bottom half of the art piece. The changes were pretty subtle.
By the time I got to this stage I had begun stitching blocks together. This too takes some thought. Obviously the blocks are all different sizes. Their variety of measurements makes it interesting to fit them together. It is kind of like assembling a puzzle. The only difference is that I don’t have a box cover to refer to. I have to make it all up as I go.
By the time I had reached this point my piece had been stitched together into two separate segments. The one on the left takes in the majority of the individual blocks. The one on the right has not yet been attached because it is a different size. I also still have to figure out how to attach the gold block with the thin center strip.
The made-fabric to the left of the gold block and the gold, flashy fabric below are being auditioned as possible candidates. I also have another possible add-in below the right section. (Does that all sound like mumbo jumbo?) I hope I haven’t lost you?
Lots of Progress
Today was a day filled with loads of progress. By the time my piece had reached this stage I was exhausted. I needed to take a break to ponder my next step so day five ended here.
From Trash to Treasure
Hard to believe this all started from one bag of scraps!
Isn’t it amazing how someone else’s trash can become another person’s treasure!
This brings to a close another day in the life of Bits and Pieces. Stay tuned for another adventure.
Thank you for showing your support by visiting my blog. Your interest is the jewel that makes my journey meaningful! See you next time!
We last talked about this art piece in my post called Bits and Pieces, AQ # 33 Part Two. By the end of the day I had finished stitching together a grouping of fabric strips. Even though I was eager to continue, family activities took precedence. I’m back in my studio and ready to work on my project again. Let’s not waste anymore time!
One of Many
These stitched together fabric strips were the starting point for today.
The above block is an example of one of the units I made. In this photo (besides the shadow of my camera, 🙂 ) you can see the center red, green and black unit. The unit is temporarily resting on a background of green fabric. The strips extending beyond the sides were waiting to be removed. The green background was eventually cut into strips and added to all four sides of the main block.
In this photo you can see that I kept going and going and going. I was on quite a roll when I paused to take this picture. I can’t tell you how pleased I was with my progress.
Using some of the scraps and a few added solid colors I created a Log Cabin block.
I wasn’t particularly fond of the outcome so I decided to slice it up, spin some of the pieces around and stitch them back together. You will also note that I have added in some solid colors. Gasp! I know the solid colors were not included in my recently purchased bag of scraps. Even though my mantra was to use all of the scraps in this piece I never said I wouldn’t add others to the mix. 🙂 A girls gotta to do what she has to make a spectacular work of art.
My faux Log Cabin block still wasn’t quite up to par so I sliced it again and asked myself, “What if.” What if I added this jazzy gold fabric in a couple of places. Hmmm! I kind of liked that but I wanted to make sure it was repeated in at least three areas. Time to do a little more adjusting.
In this photo you will notice several things. First of all in the bottom right corner you will see my finished faux Log Cabin block. You will also notice that I have been very busy making more units or blocks. This is one of the most enjoyable aspects of creating improv art.
Take a closer look at the photo and you can see there are hints of the original strip fabric in many of the blocks above.
By the end of the day this is what my conglomerate looked like. The difference between this photo and the one above are the fabrics I am auditioning as potential additions. These would be used as fillers for some of the gaps. I’m not sure if they will stay but at least for now they add a nice touch.
Let’s Call It A Day!
Even though I wanted to keep going I was exhausted by this point. After all this work it was time to call it a day. There’s always tomorrow!
Thanks so much for reading my post! I’m so glad we got to spend the time together. See you next time! 🙂