Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Quiltfest Gallery - Part 4

 This is part 4 of the gallery tour, the other parts can be found here, one, two, three.

OK, you're back, lets carry on our trip around the show. Our first quilt today is another that I hadn't intended to show, but it filled a tricky space and I like it so, here it is. I think more than anything this one shows my age, it's K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider. I was never much bothered by the people in the series but I fell for the car in a big way. In fact the ring tone on my phone has been the theme tune from the show since it has been possible to set them. Ah if only you could fit the whole of my talk into a 1981 Transam.

It seems this is the most eagerly expected quilt by my blog readers. Dragon 1 (yes the first dragon is technically Dragon 0). If you are a regular reader of my blog you will have seen me working on this one just before the show. I think it came off the frame 3 or 4 days before the show. If you missed those posts they start on the 8th of January, so start at the bottom of this page.

I was hoping that this quilt would look like it was drawn in water colour pencils. It is actually a wholecloth quilt with the design made entirely in thread. The starting image for this quilt was the preliminary sketch by Glenn Wallbridge,  for my first dragon tattoo. Bonus points to the readers who spotted that while I was working on it. It is stitched onto another piece of cotton sateen
 hand dyed by Heide Stoll-Weber. The image was scaled up to be the biggest I could fit on the cloth I had. I managed to use the whole piece with just enough to bind the quilt. I am very stingy when it comes to Heide's fabrics. Being hand dyed it does have variations in colour, but in this case they are all shades of the same grey. All the colour on the quilt comes from the threads used.

On the top of the quilt the threads are King Tut, Signature and Aurifil, and in the bobbin I use Masterpiece. I only use cotton threads in my work. Maybe it is old fashioned and snobby, but it's what I do and I can't see me changing any time soon. It does somewhat limit my colour options.

Rather than mark directly onto the quilt I prefer to do my marking on wash away stabiliser. Over the time I have been quilting ever marking tool I have used has let me down at least once despite my testing them all before I use them. The stabiliser keeps the markings that little bit further from the quilt. If I can avoid  marking altogether I do. In this case though I needed some help. This project was a huge challenge for me. I don't draw and my grasp of drawing and shading techniques is very basic. I had to learn and fast.

This is also a style of quilt I had mostly written off. I always match my bobbin thread colour to my top thread colour. This means all of my art quilts have a wholecloth art quilt on the reverse. It seemed to be a poor deal to make an art quilt as a wholecloth. I'd only get one quilt for my work not two. Who doesn't like something for free.

I learned a lot here, and having done this quilt I will do more in a similar style. I've got ideas for stretching the number of colours I can get in thread, and I can see other ways of laying down thread. I want to play with stabilisers and different waddings. This quilt has Warm and Natural in it, as that was the densest wadding I had to hand. I think more solid ones would be even better. I just need the time to play now.

Here is another older of my older quilts. I made it to try and get a quilt into an American show. The show had the theme 'Celebrate Spring', and I had been spending a lot of time at the National Gallery. Cherry blossom in an impressionist style seemed the obvious choice. This was another quilt that took me out side of my comfort zone and had me trying new things. I loaded the frame with a calico backing a layer of 80/20 wadding and another layer of calico. On the calico I marked where the bridge path and river needed to go, then I started colouring in.

All the colour comes from 1" squares of fabric. I laid a few pieces down then stitched them into place with a pattern appropriate to what they were representing. So the bushes are quilted with leaves and the path with pebbles. The wood on the bridge has a grain to it and every blossom has a flower quilted on it. Most of the picture was made from the top down, the tree though I had to add from the bottom up. I just couldn't get my head around working it the other way.

In Full Bloom did it's job. It was accepted into the Celebrate Spring show and was the first quilt I exhibited in the USA.

That's the end of the wall. Let take a look at the items hung elsewhere in the gallery. We've walked around a large plinth in the middle of the room, holding a dress on a display form.

In 2009 I was asked to take part in a new feature at the Festival of Quilts, a fashion show. There were teams from the UK and Russia and each member of each team was to make four items. Day wear, evening wear, accessory and fantasy. I wasn't that interested until I heard that last one. I'd been thinking for a while about making a suit of armour and this seemed like the perfect excuse. Unfortunately, because it is quite fragile and it was too bulky to store when we had to take the show down, I couldn't display it at Quiltfest. If you would like to see it, it is on this video.

So, by deduction, the dress isn't my fantasy category. It was actually my evening wear. I've enjoyed making Victorian style clothes for years so it seemed like an obvious starting point. I also thought it was something I could add quilting to without ending up with a shapeless garment. I had issues with big shapeless coats and tops, well to be honest they have an issue with me. They make me look way bigger than I am and that is quite big enough to start with. I suppose the alternative would be to not put much quilting on the garment, but that really isn't my way of doing things. If you ask me for quilted fashions, you had better believe they will be quilted.

The patterns for this outfit are all from Truly Victorian. The skirt and bodice are patterns I have used before but the train had just been in my wish list. Again the show gave me a good excuse to do something I'd been thinking about for years.

As I've said if I am going to make a quilted garment it has to be quilted. This gave me a problem, how could I make a proper three layer quilt that would be soft and light enough to craft the train from.  I came up with using organza. The train is three layers of organza. Silver top and bottom with black as the 'wadding'. It is two widths of organza wide, about 80" and approximately 120" long. I had to guess the length as the pattern for the train went missing just as I was ready to load the organza on the train. I thought I had loaded up more than I could possible need but actually another 20"-30" would have been good.

The quilting for the train was started at the hem and as with all my work is just freehand. The body of the train is quilted with feathers in various styles and colours. Starting with black at the hem and working up to lighter grey at the bustle. The bustled section is quilted with my curls, which really only add texture, you don't see the design at all.
 The train is hemmed with heavy black lace. This I bought a roll of as I knew I would need several meters. I am flattered by those who ask if I made it, but I really can't face that much lace making.

The back of the bodice is decorated with two lace panels. These were also purchased from Vena Cava Designs. This is a fantastic UK company that sells all sorts of corset supplies and fancy pieces like these laces.  I had actually gone to the site to buy more spiral bones for the bodice but when I  saw these motifs I had to have them.

The next problem I came up with was how do I get into this outfit in a hurry. At the time I was planning it we were expecting a change time of about 5 minutes. That doesn't give me long enough to get into a corset so the bodice had to do the job of the corset. However I wasn't prepared to have laces on show. I settled on making the bodice very tight and using lare hooks and eyes to close it. It does mean I need a dresser (although that was going to be essential for the fast change anyway) to haul the bodice shut. It works surprisingly well and is pretty comfortable too.

The larger panels of the skirt were quilted on oversize sections of fabric that had been roughly cut to shape. The lining is black cotton and the outer is a cotton sateen. The wadding is a Dream Orient. It is a fantastic clothing wading. It is a blend of cotton, silk and bamboo, it drapes really nicely. I did use some marking on wash away stabiliser to make sure the panels on each side are mirror images of each other.

The top of the skirt and the black areas of the bodice were yardage I quilted before cutting the panels. They are quilted with and all over leaf and vine pattern. The front panel of both the bodice and the skirt and bodice are the same three layers as the rest of the garment but with an added layer of silver organza over the top.

The bodice is then trimmed with the same lace as the train and has lace sleeves. Although the quilting was all done on my longarm the assembly was done on an hand cranked sewing machine in my motorhome. It was the biggest space I had to work in and it was easy to keep completely cat free. Cats and organza don't mix.

 The outfit was named Victorian Steampunk by Susan Briscoe.

 The last quilt for today is hanging right next to the dress. Being a double sided quilt it couldn't be hung against the wall. It's also very three dimensional so it doesn't hang well that way. Fortunately Susan had these hooks and chains in her car. She claims she thought they would come in handy for hanging quilts! Well I suppose she was right and the  metal bars on the gallery ceiling turned out to be well placed as well.

The quilt, well technically two joined quilts, does have a hanging gap at the top to insert a rod. The base of each side of the quilt is three layers stitched together. Both have a stiff interfacing as their backing. It can't be seen and it gives a stable base, both for the textile components and the electronics embedded within it.

The quilt reacts to sounds, so when you talk to it the lights flash. I made it to give quilts a way to interact with the audience when they cannot be touched. Being so tactile I do think quilts miss out when they aren't handled, but having seen how much damage people do to quilts I have to support the no touching rule.

The resistors are not only the correct values, they are also the same way round as they are on the board. Yes, very sad and pedantic. The back of the quilt shows the tracks of the board and the solder spots. It is the hardest 'soldering' I have ever done. Hand stitching this silver fabric was a bear.


Cheryl said...

I have a sound reactive quilt too, and love what you made! The dragon and the dress are fab as well!

Ferret said...

That so doesn't surprise me. What prompted you to do it? What does it do when it reacts?

Cheryl said...

It twinkles in a random pattern when it picks up sound. I used a "sparkle" microchip to do it.

Ulla Schierhorn said...

I am not a big fan of wearable art, but this dress is absolutely fabulous.
Great quilt gallery

Featheronawire Sally Bramald said...

The dragon is fabulous! Really fabulous, my favourite!

Ulla's Quilt World said...

Thank you for your lovely blog! I love the dress!!!
Hugs, Ulla