Sunday, May 17, 2009

Test Run

I've had so many distractions and diversion in the last week or so that I couldn't get much done toward my art. But yesterday I spent a big chunk of time at the sewing machine and it was wonderful to be working again. Of the several things I could have worked on, I chose to proceed with my sample to try out ideas for finishing up the Azalea Mosaic. I was curious about the effect of adding meandering vines across the quilt, as if looking at a mosaic tile pathway in a garden. I didn't want it as quilting, I figured, because I wanted it to look like it was growing naturally up and over the tiles, not flattening them down. So I fused some leftover squares to extra background fabric and stitched away.

But first, I tested some of my machine's pre-programmed embroidery stitches on a scrap of fabric. You can get an idea of what a stitch will look like from the manual and the screen on the machine, but I can't really tell exactly what it will look like until I've stitched it out. The first tests were done in an old cotton thread I care nothing about, ditto for the fabric & no stabilizer. Since the squares are fused giving some stability, I wanted to see how badly the fabric might pull up without stabilizer - for the areas between the fused squares. The final test (far left) was done with the actual thread I planned to use - an Oliver Twist Hand-dyed cotton. I settled on the pattern on the far right, but wanted it to look a bit more free flowing, so on the left you can see where I tested increasing the stitch length. You can also see that I penned the identifying stitch number above each stitch, and then noted the length changes. I'll keep this sample for future reference.

How often have I auditioned threads, thinking I've come up with the perfect one, only for it to disappoint me on the real thing? Often, and in this case, I'm thinking this may have been more effective with a green somewhere in value between this one and the dark green I used for the actual quilting. Of course, that's a color I do not have on hand. But I do love the overall effect. There was a bit of distortion because of not using a stabilizer, but I was able to press it out. Not sure I could do that properly on the larger piece. And I have no desire to remove stabilizer from this type of embroidery - so time consuming and you never get it all out. Wouldn't want to use water soluble stabilizer, but perhaps one that disappears with heat would be the answer.

Click on the picture above and you should be able to see that darker green thread (a Sulky rayon)and the quilting. I used a slightly wavy pre-programmed stitch with width reduced and my walking foot to quilt between the fused squares. I was afraid that since the quilting was done after the embroidering, it would show in an unwanted way where it crossed over the lighter green thread, but to my surprise, it did not. Very pleased about that. And the vines do give the organic look of rising and falling as they move across the tiles.

While I like this effect on this small version, I don't think I would like it all over the larger quilt even if I had a suitable darker thread. And of course, I doubt I have enough of this thread to cover the larger quilt - story of my creative life. Maybe I can think of a different way to add a little garden feel to it, but I don't think this is it. I can also see that this quilting stitch doesn't quite make the squares pop like I wanted, even with the Matilda wool batting. But I am pleased enough with these results that I plan to finish this up and mount it much in the same way that I did Twisted Tree. Nothing ventured, nothing gained - this was a definite gain.


Chris said...

I really like this idea. I'm looking forward to see how it looks on the finished piece.

quiltcrazygal said...

Very lovely, I'm inspired by this project. Jenna Louise

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks, guys! I've satin stitched the edge in green and auditioned backgrounds for it today. Looking very good...