Monday, 27 January 2014

Megan & Her Pumpkins - Art Doll Art Quilt

Trying something new can be really refreshing. A change of technique and focus to work on something a little bit different has had me dragging out my sketchbooks again along with my paints and pastels, and without me having to give up my beloved needles and thread. I don’t usually sketch out my ideas for my dolls unless I’m trying to work out a certain pattern, and have a small book in my sewing box just for that. And it’s been so long since I drew anything properly and not just doodled that at first I found it slow going. I mean, your hands are supposed to do as you tell them too, right?
And my new Appliqué Wall Hanging has turned out just as I wanted it too J
Megan and her pumpkins went from my scrappy doodles to a full blown large pencil drawing. From fabric to paint and back again to fabric my ideas have lead me a merry dance until I could work out just how I wanted her to look. And I’ve re-discovered skills and techniques I’ve not used since I was small and pinching things out of my Mothers sewing basket. (I even got to use an old reel of chocolate brown thread that was snaffled from Mam’s basket and has been in every sewing box I’ve had J)
What I wanted was a way to use those lovely small scraps of fabric your left over with once you’ve finished with larger projects. I just can’t bear to throw them away and really needed to find a good use for them before my scrap box exploded all over my house.
I’m not a huge fan of patchwork on a large scale but wanted to work in the flat rather than in 3D so that I could introduce something New to my shop. Something different and a new challenge for the new year. And appliqué is one of those scary techniques that would normally have me turning around and doing something different instead. You now the ones. The techniques that turn out to be a flipping nightmare. Fiddly and complicated and totally a pain in the bum. But I’ve worked before in paper piecing and love the look that you can get with different texture and pattern so thought I’d give it a go.
I was so glad that I did. It was so much easier than I remembered it and after a quick look around the internet I found the right way of doing it for me. Now I’m a hand sewer, and I find sewing machines really scary things. The only one I was ever able to use successfully was a battered old electric Singer that died a respectable death many many years ago. But I was given a nice simple Toyota machine by a very nice gentleman who’s wife had had to move to a care home and wanted it to go to a good home. So I’ve been determined to learn and get myself sewing in straight lines using it at least. As I got everything ready to start on my Megan I decided that I would be hand appliquéing the picture to a calico background as there was no way I was going to be able to do all the tiny fiddly details by machine, and then I’d frame and back the piece using the machine with a wadding layer in between to make my very first Art Doll Art Quilt J
Because it wasn’t something that would be worn or would need any flexibility I used an iron on interfacing to back each of the pictures pieces. Tracing them all directly onto the shiny glue side of the interfacing so that my picture didn’t flip over. I cut them out and used a dry hot iron to attach the bits to the back of the fabrics I wanted to use (which made the cut out pieces the right way around). Next I traced my design onto a sheet of tracing paper so that I had a guide to work from, and traced the design onto my calico background so I could see where the first pieces needed to be attached.
Each separate bit of the design I then attached by carefully placing the pieces and using my needle as my only tool gently tucked under the fabric allowance I left around my cut out pieces and sewed them all into place, building up the layers. Once all my pieces were attached I added embroidery in a mix of threads to decorate and define the edges, adding veins to leaves, moss and grasses around the ground and detail to the pumpkins and the little girls face.
Megan is now available for sale at my shop –
Megan’s favorite time of year is Autumn. She loves to sit among the Pumpkins and talk to them as they grow, and she’s already selected which one she’ll carve into her Halloween Lantern. Her sisters don’t understand Megan’s love of this season as they all love a different time of year. But Megan loves the crisp sound of dry fallen leaves and the warm dark earth beneath her hands. Here she is sitting in her favorite spot hidden behind the biggest pumpkin in the patch enjoying the late warm sun.

Megan is made using a mixture of fabrics (silks, cottons, and synthetics) appliquéd to a canvas background. Each shape you see has been cut from fabric and attached, along with a mixture of embroidery threads and sewing cottons in many decorative embroidery stitches sewn on top of the pieces to decorate them. The eyes are re-purposed buttons from my collection, and I’ve added paints and pastels to shade and tint some of the parts. I’ve framed this piece using vintage silk fabric and backed it in cotton with wadding in between. She’s all ready to hang on a wall or door and hopefully brighten your days.

This piece measures approx. 38cm by 34cm

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