Monday, August 29, 2011
Art quilts - legs
I've made the thumbnails a bit smaller today because I wanted to share more pictures that usual, you can still click on them to get the full size images.
The legs seemed quite simple at first glance then as I thought about it more I realised how much was actually going on that wasn't being shown by the shades of the fabric. The most obvious area was where the top leg met the arm, both were the same colour and needed to be separated by the quilting. There are many more subtle areas too, the knee for example needed some sort of transition as did the lower leg and body.
As ever I started where I could see what was going on with the highlights on the muscles. I was trying to both follow the underlying contours of the leg and the shape of the fabric. It did mean making some compromises but it came together. The next lightest shade on the top leg was also fairly easy to deal with, although I had to start thinking about the fold in the leg, with this colour.
By the third shade I was clearly coming up against the crease behind the knee, but more importantly I spotted some details I wanted to add to the arm. In one of the pictures you can just see a couple of pieces of paper off to the side. I stopped here to work out what needed adding and decided I needed to leave that area of the leg until I had put some more detail on the arm so I could tuck in the edge of fabrics that were supposed to be further back. It's amazing how often quilting past something can point out a problem with it.
I left that for later and went on the lower part of the leg. By comparison this bit is easy. There are some fiddly narrow pieces to control but at least the shape is clear and simple. You can see in this area what I meant about the arm and the leg trying to blend together.
You might also notice that in some places there is a lot of fabric to persuade into quite small places. As I am quilting fairly densely the quilt is drawing up as I go so pieces further down seem to big to fit. They will but the need a lot of coaxing. Its one of the reasons I longarm one handed. I use my left hand to manipulate the fabric as I work in just the same way I did on the domestic machines. It worked there right so it must work here, and it does. It also scares people when they see me doing it. I do have my fingers very very close to the foot of the machine, I have to if I am manipulating small pieces. Yes it is possible to sew through your finger but mostly I get hit by the needle screw, it hurts but it lets me get the fabric to do what I want.
The lower leg is again more of a challenge than I first thought. The tiny piece of dark fabric is the where the calf muscle is pressing against the thigh, so again the quilting needs to change direction there to provide the appropriate shape. It is also a good example of silly little things that are critical to the overall design. When I am teaching my art quilt classes I do talk a lot about small things that matter and small things that don't. I try to explain how to tell the difference because there is no way to make a list of them. This may not seem important but trust me if it wasn't there you would know it was wrong.