'If you make happiness your goal, then you're not going to get to it… The goal should be an interesting life."

Dorothy Rowe

Wednesday 11 March 2009

I've been experimenting ...

in a strictly non-scientific way.

This is the smaller of the two quilts I ended up making earlier in the week - no stitch on it yet but I have plans.

Nothing has happened to that piece because I got side-tracked by the one below.

A while ago I bought C June Barnes' lovely book 'Stitching to Dye in Quilt Art'. The second section of the book is entitled 'Shrinkage' and covers Barnes' techniques for quilting, followed by shrinking, followed by dyeing.

Well - I have - er - quite a lot of hand-dyed fabric - so I decided to cut out the last stage by using pre-dyed fabric. I fossicked around in the cupboard till I found this not very exciting piece, and free motion quilted it to a piece of felt. [You need wool felt for this, obviously, as the man-made stuff doesn't shrink.]

Because the fabric was already coloured I used coloured thread for the quilting, purple and pale turquoise, and played around with different quilting patterns. And those circles ...

Barnes discourages you from using fancy quilting patterns, as the detail will be lost.

This is the piece pre-washing. The quilting alone produced some distortion.

And this is it after a trip through the washing machine - 'cotton eco' wash, with a load of towels. Not much difference? I thought so at first, but I had taken the precaution of measuring the felt first - and it had shrunk by up to an inch [2.5.cm] on each side. Not evenly of course - this is not the technique to use if you want a flat piece with straight edges ...

Barnes suggests you will get 25 % or more shrinkage - mine was [reaches for calculator] about 8%. But Barnes' felt was 70% wool, 30% viscose. I suspect mine may not be so 'wool rich'.

However - I am not sure I would want more shrinkage - I like the look and feel of what I've got. Wensleydale was a bit underwhelmed - he looked at it and said 'bedspread'...

Here is is with some hand stitch - the rabbit ear is because I haven't finished the overstitching. For some reason, although the purple arrows were easy to do, overstitching the edge was really hard work and at times necessitated that essential embroiderer's tool, a pair of pliers. I think it was the combination of one layer of felt, two layers of tightly woven cotton and a thick thread.

The piece reminds me of those doodles I went mad about a while ago - every section filled in with a different pattern.

In complete contrast - today's red photo is a beautifully flat piece with immaculate embroidery. One of the last events of my C&G course was a display of Chinese ethnic embroidery - and this is an example. Unfortunately I can't tell you which Chinese minority group was responsible - but isn't it lovely?

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