Saturday, October 24, 2009

Birdhouses and Morning Glories

A while back I started a new piece inspired by a Bluebird house a neighbor gave me as a house warming gift. I love the weathered look and coupled with a vine like plant, thought it would make a pretty quilt. The working title is Birdhouses and Morning Glories; I'm trying to come up with a better title. Any ideas?
The picture of the birdhouse was to be part of the background, so I thought it should be fairly subdued. I turned it into a Sepia print in Photoshop Elements.

I cropped the image and enlarged parts of the image to make interesting design elements.
I wasn't concerned about direction, just wanted it for an interesting background.
All shapes and sizes were printed on fabric; I wanted lots of choices for designing.
I liked the nail and strong wood grain in the part below.
I had some wonderful "granite" patterned fabric that worked really well with this imagery.
I like that the background is interesting without being overpowering.
I had printed some monoprints on the purchased fabric; it seemed to work well with this imagery

and the pieced background.
At this point I thought it needed some "sparkling up" so I scoured my collection of couching threads and found this amazing little sparkle.
I set my machine for a narrow zig zag and threaded it with a monofilament on top. I laid the threads down along the narrow fabric strips and zig-zagged it in place.
The threadwork gives it a little more definition which I like.
A detail of the threadwork.
I had already decided on a "greenish-blue" for the flower and dyed some mercerized cotton using procion mx dyes. I used Marine blue and a Chino brown - the 2 together in the same fabric give it more movement.
Nice, but not enough definition, so what to do? The flower needed more movement so I divided the flower into sections and cut out each section taking into consideration a "light source". I also thought the use of a textile paint along the edges would make it "pop"! Think it pops and additional threadwork will help.
So here are the 2 flowers side by side - a before and after (after is first), so I guess it's after and before.
Next step was to pin everything in place, put on design wall and live with it for a while. This part is important, the everyone tasks that take me in and out of the room, looking at it, how often it takes on a new perspective. Sometimes, something will click that I don't like; I never saw it at first but after looking at it everyday, it's glaring! So for me, this "down time is time well spent.
I wanted a lot of movement so I added fabric swirls and curls. I also wanted the flowers to meander around the birdhouse to mimic the garden.

Next step is to fuse and sew the appliques down, then machine quilt. I've actually been doing that for a few days; it's almost done so will show you the results in the next post.


  1. Oh, Judy, the piece is lovely! Hope to see you Tuesday?

  2. This is looking lovely! When you print on fabric are you using an injet printer so your pieces are 8 1/2 by 11? I'm eager to try printing on fabric and have been reading about ironing the fabric onto freezer paper. Am worried about it getting stuck as it prints. Don't want to kill my printer!

  3. Hi "Porch Days" Before printing on fabric, good to pick up a good book with basic information. I do use 8 1/2 x 11 and ironing on freezer paper works well...I've never had it get "stuck". If your printer is a backfeed such as an Epson ..that's easier to control and using "Dura Brite" inks (some Epsons use them) are better as they are lightfast as well as permanent unlike other inks...It's pretty easy to do but I do recommend getting some basics first. Judy