Sunday, July 28, 2013

Solid color cotton fabric, oh yeah!

Like everyone who plays with fabric, color is one of the visceral connections between eye and fabric. I want a little bit of fabric in every color. Just to look at. To line up side by side in little folded piles to experience the vibrations of the colors next to each other. Or just to focus on one color and go deep inside it.

I spent way too many hours the other night on the internet looking at fabric. The big fabric companies have my number. They sell stacks of pre-chosen colors tied up with elegant ribbons or rolled up like pinwheels. They almost look too beautiful to unwrap. There are also boxes with every color they make lined up like candy. I confess I am trying to find a way to win the lottery and buy them all.

Then I started looking at quilts that used only solid colors. I broke down and joined Pinterest so I could collect the ones I liked (NOT the ones that looked like rainbows, give me a break!). After looking at the quilts I chose and analyzing the designs in my sketch book, I realized that most of the quilts I want to make only use about 4-5 different colors at a time.

So maybe, just maybe, I don't need 250 different colors.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Inside corners (complex)

Inside corners on a triangle are much easier. Using reverse appliqué gives a triangle inside corners. 

What if the triangles are a part of a larger design and there are other fabric layers involved?
Here's one in which the triangles are part of a curvy line. If the background fabric on the left is used for the complete design, then the triangles on the right would have an edge and two angles on top of it. In order to keep the triangles looking crisp, they need to be reverse appliquéd on both left and right. Hmm.

Here's the trick.

Draw out the design, clearly labeling the layers (switch green for red in my sketch).

Cut the design. Other layers can be cut separately to keep the lines complete.

Appliqué the layers in order. Find a nice quiet spot on the curvy line, cut the seam allowance right to the sewing line and switch the foreground and background fabrics. There will be a slight bump when the lines cross, but it will be difficult to see if done neatly.

This technique allows both triangle sections to be done in reverse appliqué, so the points can be sharp.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Inside corners (simple)

Appliqué has some limitations, although in general it's a very forgiving technique. One can pretty much "draw" any shape and execute it in appliqué. Outside corners have some issues. Ninety degree corners are ok, as the inevitable fabric lumps can tuck under fairly neatly. Anything less than ninety degrees and the extra corner fabric doesn't really have any place to hide. The best bet is to replace the outside corners with inside corners.

I love me the triangle. Anything with three parts is a favorite in my book. Triangles can be spikes, sails, arrows, lots of things. They are sharp and angular in contrast to the many curves I like to use. I want to use lots of triangles, but I'd like to make them fast with nice tight corners that don't bulk up. So far, the easiest way I've figured to render a tight looking triangle is to use reverse appliqué. The triangle shape will be under the background fabric, so it recedes a bit, but that small compromise is worth it to me to avoid the bulky outside corners.

So here's how it goes:

Draw out the triangle on the foreground fabric, cut it out using some seam allowance and baste the background fabric in place.

Start sewing on a straight section. When close to the corner, make a straight cut from the edge of the seam allowance to the V of the triangle corner.

Stitch the turned fabric under to the traced corner and take a few stitches at the corner itself. There really isn't much (if any) fabric in the seam allowance at this point, but the sides will keep the seam allowance in place. 

The result is a nice tight inside corner.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Prints, prints and more prints

In my dotage, I'm easily overwhelmed, especially visually. Or maybe it's all the reading I've been doing on the minimalist lifestyle. Printed fabrics are getting a bit too much for me, both in the wardrobe arena and in quilt-making. I don't mind a little accent of printed fabric here or there, but mixing printed fabrics in a quilt gets too distracting. 

Besides the visual clutter of using multiple printed fabrics in a quilt, prints are a snapshot of current fashion. This enables a fabric historian to date a particular print based on the trendy fabrics used in the quilt. It also means, like clothes, the prints "expire". They become so last year, or last decade. I like to think that solid colored fabrics, like the Amish quits, have a little more staying power, in addition to being easier on the eyes.

I do have a bag of prints left over from previous quilting ventures, so I am trying to use them up before I start collecting (stashing) some solids. I wanted to experiment with a technique for switching foreground and background in appliqué, so wanted to use up some scraps to try it out. Here is the result. I don't like it because it's too busy. I may do the design again in solids so I can actually see the shapes. The technique worked out well, though. I'll post some more details on that in the future.

"Spikes up the ying yang"
2013, 10" x10", hand appliquéd and hand quilted