Saturday, February 28, 2015

Winter in my garden

I choose leaves as my theme for this years serie. I have already worked with leaves as a leaf was one of the objects I used during my C&G course, my second assesment quilt was based on leaves and I used the gingko leaves for my silent theme quilt a while ago.
So when I discovered we had to work with green for this quilt I was relieved. Blue might have been more challenging for my theme.
I decided against appliqueing green leaves on a background and so making a quilt similar to my second C&G quilt.
I recently read an article in Art Quilting Studio about discharge printing with leaves and decided to try this technique on my first quilt. I used different dry-pressed leaves I had collected in our garden in the past years. They are the same that can be used for the sunprinting technique Nicole recently described on this blog.
I cut several pieces of different commercial hand-dyied green fabrics, applied a thin cot of discharge past on the side of a leaf I tought would show more details (veins) and carefully pressed he leaf to the fabric and left it there for a moment. after peeling back the leaf I let the fabric dry and then ironed it. This was like opening a present as it was then I discovered how the print had turned out.

As the fabric I choose is not very dark the discharge effect looks more like a shadow or to me like a ghost image of a leaf.
I was afraid that piecing the different prints would add strong lines to the quilt I put the pieces of fabric onto the batting and left the edges raw.

I free-motion quilted around the leaves but not inside as I wanted to keep this ghost image feeling..
I only quilted some curved lines into the background as I didn't want the background quilting to distract from the leaves.

I decided on the title winter in my garden for this quilt as at this time of the year all the leaves are missing and here are only there ghosts.


Tulips in green

I love tulips. They have been blooming here in Bergen, Norway, since the spring of 1596. There even is a tulip that only exist in Norway, named Tulipa norvegica. So it was natural for me to make my personal theme for 2015 Tulips. And the group-challenge this time was green.
I am so fascinated by variety in the shapes of the flowers, they are so elegant.

I decided to use this sage-green fabric I had hand-dyed, as my background.
I made squares with oil-sticks, and in these frames I embroidered the tulip-heads with free-hand machine stitching, and added some stems and leaves. Then I filled the background with machine and hand quilting.
All in green, apart from the flowers which have a mix of black and very dark green thread.
Some close-ups:

Green Pears

The theme I have chosen to work with for the year is “Fruits and Seeds”. It would have been so easy to simply incorporate a bit of green foliage for this challenge, but I wanted to do a bit more than that. I took photographs of pears and, after much experimentation, created this image using digital manipulation in PaintShop Photo Pro X3. I needed the image to be clean and simple so that it would work with the repetition. I then generated several colour gradients which all moved from green to another colour e.g. green – yellow, green – magenta, etc. I coloured each pear in from a different gradient. It was printed out using an inkjet printer on white cotton poplin coated with inkAID. The design enabled me to work within the limitations of an A4 printer – no awkward joins to deal with. The backing is felt and interfacing. The quilting is a straightforward free machine meander stitch using a variety of Isacord 40 threads. I chose to edge the piece with a machined blanket stitch.

Etude 1

I like abstract pictures, fotos and quilts with a clear geometric design. In opposite to this strong formal design I like it when such quilts show details like fine quilting and/or  embroidery.
For this series I decided for rectangles as the main design element. 

When the colour "Green" was announced as theme for this quilt, I remembered that years ago I embroidered a semicircle with beads in green! I always wanted to integrate it in a little abstract quilt. Now its time had come :)).

The green fabrics in the quilt are selfdyed, the stripes of the background are scraps from old bought fabrics.

Only one semicircle in a quilt with straight lines looked odd, so I added two smaller semicircles. These pieces are made from painted bondaweb. I put some fabric scraps and Angelina on it and fused it with organza. When I embroidered it with some beads, sequins and handstitches.

Lines of green sequins connect the green rectangles, beaded semicircles and the background.

This quilt is 60 cm x 42 cm (24'' x 16,5''), the quilting is done by machine.

Apologies to Monet

About 3 years ago I did a batch of hand dyes with pleating and dropped colours, and got several pieces I really liked but have never used. This green challenge gave me the chance to use one of them. It is whole cloth apart from the appliqued fence and birds.

Several things contributed to my inspiration. Firstly, I had photographed some canola fields near a river some years ago, and played with photoshop to give a crosshatch effect, which I intended to stitch one day. Secondly when I created the gate and the fence I immediately thought of Monet's magpie, even though his painting is of winter. Thirdly, going with the impressionist ideas, I chose the red poppies, which often spill at field edges - again a reference to Monet's poppies at Argenteuil.

I played with some more realistic sketches, before settling, as I usually do, on a simple graphic design. Size is 24 by 19.

Green Leaves

The theme for this quilt was GREEN. As an inspiration I have used a photo of mine with a foliage of Eucalyptus leaves. A section of the photo that I thought had some interest was cropped and enlarged which helped to simplify it. As a background a grey satin cotton fabric was chosen in order to make the green leaves and the magenta, purple and violet leaves veins  stand out.
The quilt is pieced and the leaves are raw-edge machine appliqu├ęd and machine quilted. The perimeters of the leaves are hand stitched with gold thread and chain stitches and the background are hand quilted with seed stitches and gold threads in a kind of Kantha stitches.

Size 15 x 20 inches

Above are some close ups.
In order to get some differences in the texture I have machine quilted the leaves in different ways.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Sunprinting is a bit of a misnomer for this technique. It gives the impression that the fabric paint is somehow reacting to the sun. It’s not. It is actually the high ambient temperature that is important. I do sunprinting in my conservatory on hot summer days and shadows from the struts in the roof fall across my fabric, but have no detrimental effect. The fact that I am indoors with no breath of wind also means that I can use very delicate leaves and flowers in the process and they won’t be blown away. You could do this in the sauna if you really wanted!

The first thing I do is to collect cow parsley leaves and any other plant that takes my fancy as soon as they appear in spring. Then I place them all between layers of newspaper, put a big old pile of books on top and press them. This gives me a big stash of shapes and patterns ready to use when the sun comes out.

You will need...
  • Plastic sheeting to cover the table.
  • Up to three colours of paint. (notes about paint below)
  • Three jars or trays.
  • Three brushes or sponges.  I use sponge brushes.
  • Spray bottle with water.
  • White cotton fabric.
  • Dishwasher salt or other grainy salt.
  • Stencils, pressed leaves etc (more about this below)
  • A hot day!

The way I do the sunprinting is as follows...
  • I lay out a flat sheet of plastic on my table. It should not have any creases or wrinkles in it as this will affect the end product.
  • Choose the paints, I never use more than three colours, and dilute them with water until they are really watery. I use shallow trays for this, but jars will do.
  • I cut/tear pieces of white cotton poplin that are about 85cm x 50cm (34” x 20”) max. Lay the fabric out on the plastic and spray it with water so that it is damp, but not soaking.
  • Now we’re working against the clock to finish before the fabric starts to dry. Paint the fabric quickly, making sure that the different colours merge into each other.
  • When the fabric is covered in colour place the leaves etc all over, making sure that they adhere completely to the wet fabric. This will only work if the leaves lie completely flat against the fabric.
  • Now leave the fabric to dry. Do not be tempted to lift up the leaves and peak!
  • When it is completely dry peel and brush off the leaves and Voila!

This technique works because everything tends towards equilibrium! The fabric constantly tries to stay equally wet all over, but the exposed parts dry first so they draw the wet paint from the covered parts until there is none left there, leaving the covered area white.

This piece has had dish washer salt sprinkled over it after the placement of the leaves. The salt draws the wet paint and absorbs it, leaving these lovely marks. Always put the salt on last as it will prevent your other items lying flat against the fabric.
This piece had a commercial stencil placed on it and salt sprinkled around the edge. You can easily make your own stencils from 125 micron heavy duty plastic sheeting. I get mine from the DIY store.
This piece was made by swiping the paint on in a crosswise tartan pattern and then concertina folding the fabric roughly in one direction and leaving it until it was about half dry. At this point I concertina folded the fabric in the other direction and left it until it was completely dry. None of this was done with any accuracy. The concertina folds give the fabric hills and valleys and the wet paint is drawn into the valleys by gravity.

These pieces were left to dry in a loosely crumpled state. The first piece also has salt sprinkled on it.


You can use any item to leave a mark on the fabric. It will always work provided it will sit flat on the fabric until it is dry. Home made stencils made from heavy duty plastic can be used over and over again, paper stencils may only work once.


You can use paints that are specially designed for sunprinting such as Pebeo Setacolour Light fabric paint. These are fluid, high pigment paints, but may still need watering down. They leave the fabric surprisingly soft.
If you want to experiment, but don’t want to spend lots of money on new paints then you can use watered down Jacquard Textile Colors or any similar make of paint. Transparent colours work best. I have also successfully used watered down acrylic paints. The last two pieces shown in this post were made with ordinary, inexpensive acrylic paints. Acrylics will have a slight stiffening affect on the fabric, which the fabric paints do not. The high pigment fluid acrylic paints are ideal for this technique. 

My two favourite books on the subject.