Thread Art

Long arm quilting can come with it’s challenges. One of the greatest can be taking a plain piece of fabric and transforming it into this:

TX flag whole cloth mini

TX flag whole cloth mini

That was actually inspired by this:

my inspiration

my inspiration

The whole cloth was a mini quilt I gave to someone leaving the state.

I do love to take pieces of silk and turn them into small art quilts. I have only had the opportunity to make four so far, but for some reason I failed to photograph one of them…

red silk mini whole cloth quilt

red silk mini whole cloth quilt

custom quilting by maria hall

blue silk whole cloth mini quilt

quilting by maria the quilter

feather whole cloth mini quilt

These are great projects to give as gifts or submit for charity auctions.

Lately I have also been playing with mini whole cloth quilts made from patterned traditional cotton.

In this case, I quilted three different pieces in different manners, but each inspired by the fabric itself.

maria the quilter custom quilting

mini art quilt by maria hall

The one above reminds me of pebbles on a beach and the waves rolling around. On a different piece I went completely linear, versus the curves and softness of the one above.

maria the quilter

custom quilting by maria hall

This one just tickles me, but perhaps it’s my odd sense of humor.

quilting by maria hall

the Baptist fan blew my 9 patch away

Here is the back view:

maria the quilter

backside of custom quilt

This piece began with me deciding to thread paint a 9 patch alternating block but as I went along, my blocks were not exactly staying the same size. So I started letting them fade off, meaning, not completing the 9 parts of the block – in some spots there are 5 or 6 or 3 of the 9 expected pieces. So the 9 patch blocks sort of trail off.

Then, using different thread (admittedly not different enough), I quilted this in an all over Baptist fan pattern. Get it? the Baptist fan blew my 9 patch away?!?!? Well, you don’t have to like it, cuz I do. 🙂

In the case below I used thread that was too divergent, with black thread as the background stipple stitch on the black fabric. The result is not bad in person but in photos it looks like amoebas floating amongst squares in a sea of black. See below:

thread art by maria the quilter

thread art by maria hall

Sometimes you just have to play. It doesn’t always turn out magnificent, but I figure if I learn along the way, then I have accomplished something, and as a quilter I have made progress towards being better at my craft.

So quilt on my friends, just don’t forget to have fun. If you aren’t enjoying it, what’s the point? 🙂

 

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Fear of the blank canvas

I will never forget that moment, frozen in time. It’s like a Polaroid photo in my mind, with sentiment and smell and emotion attached to it.

It was a warm, sunny summer morning, and I was sitting with my friend Chrissy on the concrete steps behind her house. We were shaded by the trees and back awning, sitting there in our shorts with art supplies strewn around us. I was six.

We were coloring some pages and decided to stop coloring pages with lines on them and instead draw what WE wanted. Excitedly opening the book of paper on my lap, I grabbed my instrument and froze. I didn’t know what to draw. My mind was blank.

I was sure at that moment that my entire system of creative juices had completely dried up for the rest of my life. Of course, as a six year old, that wasn’t entirely devastating, more of an inconvenience. So we ran off to play in the yard instead.

Many years later, I still experience that ‘fear’, but I know I’m not alone. I also know that when I let myself stress about it I actually CONSTRICT the process (my shrink told me so). So after relaxing a bit, I go to some great resources (books, internet sites) to get those juices flowing.

Recently I was making a farewell gift for someone, and knew I wanted to make something special, and have it be comprised of quilting rather than a quilt pattern, since that is really my forte. What did that give me? A blank slate.

the blank slate

the blank slate

It happens that the giftee was moving out of state. It also happens that at that time I was making a tshirt quilt for a client and had the shirts on my sewing table. I went over to them to arrange the shirts and de-stress my mind about the blank slate. And there it was: my inspiration!

my inspiration!

my inspiration!

I thought this would be a great going away gift – a flag of Texas made from thread! WHEW!!!

I used the tshirt panel to make measurements on my blank slate and quilted the outlines. Using painters tape, I made the outline for the star.

the outlines

the outlines

I stitched hearts in the white, lines in the red and meander around the star in the blue. I plan to make another one I liked it so much!

the Texas flag

the Texas flag

Often, the blank canvas freeze comes over me, but I’ve learned to adapt and overcome.

I knew I wanted to outline the churn dashes on this quilt, and try the curling feather in the border. But I had no idea what to do in the remaining space. So I laid on the floor under the quilt with my books and started looking through them for inspiration. They are little softcover books by Darlene Epp and contain mostly simple stitches, but are great for fueling creativity!

churn dash

churn dash

I drew some ideas out but wasn’t entirely pleased with any of them. Then I went to Flickr, which is my other go-to place for creativity. I knew I wanted to incorporate the feathers from the border into the blank spaces, but also knew with a confined space (around the straight lines) and those being ODD shaped spaces, I had to do something viney or with echoes. So I looked up feather quilting photos.

I found a few that urged me to draw some swirls and paisleys with echoes and single sided feathers around some. The feather tied into the border and the echoes would allow me to fill in any weird or small spaces. Ahhhhhhh, victory!

Voila!

feather swirl paisley echo

feather swirl paisley echo

SOOOOOOO pleased with how this turned out (as was my customer)!!! I have plans to use this stitch again soon!

The moral of the story is this: don’t let the emptiness of a blank slate overwhelm you. Don’t let your analysis of what to create paralyze you. Draw an idea out and if you like it, quilt it! If you don’t, modify it and draw something a little different. Walk away if you need to so it can marinate a little bit, and then try again. Keep trying until you like what you draw and then QUILT IT!