Landmarks with Cas Holmes

Last weekend I attended the third module of my Diploma course at West Dean, this was by far the workshop where I felt most in my element and even got to use up some of my extensive scrap felt and fabrics collection. Win-win! 🙂

Cas Holmes is an amazing tutor, her years of teaching experience were clearly evident in how she catered to each individual student’s interests and level of experience. In just 3 days she had the measure of each of us and was supporting us individually. If you get the opportunity to work with her I would definitely take it, and go along with an open mind, she has a lot to offer and is very generous with her advice.

The weekend was spent creating stamped and painted fabrics before assembling them into a collage with no predefined idea of what they would look like when finished. Working on a composition without an end in mind was really liberating and, for me, a totally different way of working, although I did have a moment of panic when I looked at this piece and had no idea where to take it.

This is where it is currently. The other students tell me it is their favourite but I still feel it needs more work.

For the next piece Cas let us select a piece of fabric / paper from a pile in the middle of the room (I pounced on the sheet music) and then she gave each of us another piece that she thought we would find challenging (mine was the dark grey paper  arranged in vertical strips in the bottom half of the composition). I think Cas has me pegged a bright colour enthusiast – can’t imagine where she got that idea from 🙂

This is what it looked like after the initial arrangement.

And after some machine embroidery and couching on some more felt scraps:

What do you think, should I add the orange triangle on the left? Or something else? Perhaps some machine embroidery to the right of the orange triangle?

I liked this piece right from the start,

but I’m not sure about the flower at the bottom – should I stitch over it to make it looks less like a flower?

I also made a piece using Cas’ technique but with a predefined image in my mind. I have been working on a new body of work focussing on animals (more on that in another post) and thought these fish would translate well. These images are from my sketchbook, I was thinking of creating screen prints from them but I have already wandered back to felt and textiles 🙂

This is the piece I made at West Dean, I had intended to remove the tissue paper entirely but rather liked the textured surface and how it resembles splashing water.

However, the paper is very delicate and not very practical so I have started a similar piece using heavy weight silk instead, this is the back, getting ready to start stitching.

Mosaic Quilting Part 2

Well, this has proved much more challenging than I had imagined. Laying the pieces out and ironing them into place was fiddly but enjoyable, I like the creativity of laying out the little pieces, thinking about how the light would play on this scene.

Cutting the batting and backing fabric and attaching it to the interfacing, all very easy and straight forward. In large part the ease of this step was due to 505 basting spray, if you have not tried this yet you are missing out. It is brilliant! It allows you to re-position your pieces for about 15 min after spraying them and then keeps the fabric glued together for 2-4 months or until you wash them. Amazing stuff!

The misery did not start until I tried add some machine stitching. Then either the little pieces of fabric that I had so carefully placed either fell off or folded over to get stitched in half. What a mess! :o( To cap it all off, while intently trying to flatten each piece of fabric as the machine foot went over them I failed to notice the centre of the piece was starting to balloon and warp away from the batting.

What would I do differently next time?

  • I would use wonderweb for the backing not interfacing (I think wonderweb will be more “sticky”)
  • Although Terri Stegmiller does not recommend it I would be tempted to iron the wonderweb onto the fabric pieces before cutting them into fragments, although this will need more wonderweb than Terri’s method, I think it will hold the edges of the fragments down better making them less likely to fold over or detach.
  • Stitch from the centre of the quilt outwards. I did plan to do that on this quilt but got carried away stitching the wavy lines for the sea : embarrassed : 

This is what it currently looks like…

All is not lost, I will persevere and hope to resurrect this piece into something beautiful.

P.S. I have had a really fun idea for a small felted Xmas gift that makes me chuckle whenever I think of it, I will make a prototype this weekend and share the results with you next week.

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Mosaic Quilting

I recently attended a machine embroidery workshop and made this fish which I love to bits.

I reached this stage a few weeks ago and have been mulling over what to do with it. I could add some wool backing and a pin to turn it into a nice brooch? But it has taken over 4 hours to get to this stage, to sell a brooch for £40 would be a stretch. Or I could incorporate it into an underwater scene? I have been toying with the idea of creating a felt background for it and wondering how best to attach it but last week I read a post on mosaic quilting on Terri Stegmiller’s blog, a technique that involves attaching small pieces of fabric to wonderweb sheet and quilting onto batting. I plan to create an underwater quilted back drop and then appliqué my fish on the top.

I made a start on it last night, I am using a piece of fusible interfacing… It’s very fiddly but I think it is coming along nicely.