Friday, March 14, 2014

The Order of Stitching

After all the pieces are fused into position, I work on the embroidery and applique next.  First I begin the with layer that appears to be on the bottom.  So I'll begin with the edges of the blue ginkgo leaf first.  Why?  Because I'm lazy, and don't like to spend lots of time back tacking and pulling threads to the back and tying them! If I do the bottom layer first, then another layer of stitching will eventually cross the ends, and hold them in place.  When I get to the top layer, then I'll have to do a minimum of stitching in place or pulling threads to the back.

Choose your thread carefully. I always use shiny polyester embroidery threads usually variegated ones. Remember that my name is Ann Variegated Fahl.  I love color change.  Unreel an arm's length of thread and let it puddle on the fabric.  Do you like it? If you aren't sure, do a little test stitching first on a scrap to avoid having to tear out lots of embroidery.

Note*  The photos below were taken after the quilt was finished.  However the the embroidery and applique were actually stitched only on the quilt top.

Closeup of Ginkgo Leaf, Florentine Edge Applique
The Florentine Edge Applique is a technique I have created using a free-motion zigzag stitch and a hoop. It gives a versatile wide edge treatment that I just love.  I have written a booklet on the subject of Applique, which gives complete instructions on this technique.  Or you may also refer to a 2013 article that I wrote in the American Quilter magazine fall issue.

Also in a hoop I stitch the veins in the lily pads. I've used a blue variegated thread for this.
Next, while I still had my embroidery hoop close by, I covered the cattails, ducks heads and bills with straight free motion embroidery. Then I basted the layers together, and will finish the rest of the details in the quilting phase of the quilt. Before I do more decorative quilting, I outline every shape in the center of the quilt with mono filament thread.

Here is Ethel. I've quilted her with a brown variegated thread. She has so many different fabrics, one thread choice acts as a unifying device. I've tried to quilt near the edge of almost every feather.
I had to use two different threads to quilt Norman.
I used a shiny white thread on the wings and slender white detail on his neck. Then I used the same variegated brown that I used on Ethel's wings.

Quilting in the pond.
I chose a light blue variegated thread to quilt the pond.  It is the same thread used for the Florentine edge applique. I love adding a little spiral here and there.  Once the middle is completely quilted then I stitch around the inner edge of the border and then quilt the edge.
Detail of the top edge of quilt
I used lots of curls and coils in the green background, using a blue variegated thread.  Then on the edge I stitched using a dark variegated combination thread on the border. 

I blocked the quilt, trimmed the edges and bound the edges.  You can see the finished quilt on my website.  On Ginkgo Pond.

Next time I'll talk about another ginkgo quilt.

Ann Fahl

Friday, March 7, 2014

Working on the Pond

The ducks, cattails and water lilies were all floating on the pond in my last blog. I was happy with its appearance.
I fused everything in place, while still pinned to my design wall covered with white flannel.  Then decided, I needed a little more green to spill out into the border.  So I added two leaves in the lower right corner, you'll see that they are still pinned in place.

This last addition will be fused and the composition will be complete.

I've been thinking about a title for this quilt, and so far nothing great has come to mind.  Then it came to me:  On Ginkgo Pond.  The ducks will be Ethel and Norman, the main characters from the movie On Golden Pond.  I loved that movie. 

If I complete my thread work well, Ethel and her buddy should float around in their beautiful pond forever.  Now what should I quilt, embroider or applique?  After I have spent my entire career writing and teaching machine embroidery and quilting, I am over saturated with heavy thread work. I'm going to leave more open spaces so there will be texture changes across the surface of the finished quilt.

Ann's opinion:  I just visited a small show of art quilts, and we are over stitching everything.  Why?  I guess because we can; and historically the judges have always awarded more prizes to those quilts that are heavily quilted.  From my point of view, we're not allowing the batting to add dimension to the surface because everything is quilted too closely. Or maybe I'm just tired and grouchy!

Next time I'll show you some closeups of the thread work.

Ann Fahl