Thursday, October 13, 2016

Art with Fabric - Stained-glass window

Art with Fabric blog hop
Welcome to the Art with Fabric blog hop. My art quilt is based on the stained-glass windows of Gaudì's Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona, Spain.

The windows within the Sagrada Familia are a beautiful progression of colours from blue, green and yellow, to orange, red and purple. My piece is a depiction of the colours found in these windows.

Stained-glass windows
of the Sagrada Familia

The stained-glass windows were created by Joan Vila-Grau based on architect Antoni Gaudi's plans. The shapes of the glass pieces are a mixture of curves and lines. Since Gaudi's designs were greatly influenced by elements in nature, I created my stained-glass to represent parts of nature based on the colours used.
Stained-glass of the Sagrada Familia
My interpretation of the stained-glass window of the Sagrada Familia
White depicting the clear
textured glass
The straight lines and green of trees
The straight lines and green of trees
The first row of the stained-glass represents the white light of the Creator. In the Sagrada Familia, the windows of the upper portion of the transept are made of clear textured glass that shimmer onto the vaults. In the art quilt, I used white-on-white fabric that I thread sketched based on their designs.

The second row begins with purple that links it to the last row of the window. The blue that follows represents the sky and rain. These shapes are more circular than the green shapes at the end of the row. These have straighter, more angular lines that depict the forests and majestic trees.
The yellow of the sun

I used all kinds of thread sketching designs, and tried to use the same design on all of the pieces of the same colour. This was sometimes difficult to do since some fabrics were only slightly different and I wasn't always able to match them.

Continuation of green
in the third row
The third row continues with blue flowing from the second row; goes to yellow in the middle; and then continues with the green from the second row. The shapes continue to represent elements such as curves and long vertical pieces of blue for rain; a sun and diamonds of yellow and more angular trees in green.

In the fourth row, the blue turns to green and then transitions to yellow and orange. In the yellow and orange section, I have tried to depict the setting sun - circular for the sun with rays streaming down. The bright orange and yellow of this section stand out in the window.
Yellow and orange of the setting sun
Brown, red and purple of the
earth and rocks

The fifth and last row represent the grasses in green, as well as the earth and rocks ranging from brown, red to purple. The purple also links the beginning of the window to the end.

What I learned:
  • This was by far the most ambitious and difficult piece I've worked on. Unfortunately, I don't think that I was quite ready for it.
  • As much as I love the picture of the stained-glass window, the real project was not a success. It's not easy to admit that I made a lot of mistakes - but after my initial disappointment I have to say that I learned a lot and will hopefully be wiser for it.
 What went wrong?
  • I used the freezer paper to cut each piece and then sewed them together using raw edge
    Raw edge applique and freezer paper
    Raw edge applique and freezer paper
    applique. This technique requires a level of sewing precision that I don't have, and am not particularly striving for. I had briefly considered adjusting the pattern to foundation paper piecing. I'm sorry that I didn't do this. It would have changed the pattern somewhat, but since it was mine to make up, I'm sure it would have been fine. It would have taken a lot longer to create but would have resulted in precise piecing, easily covered with "lead cane" or ribbon. It would also have eliminated the need for a bonding agent (see next point).
  • Using Heat and Bond light behind the glass pieces was necessary, as I discovered while piecing the first row. I also didn't cover the full piece with the bonding agent. If I had free motion quilted (FMQ) each piece instead of thread sketching them, they might have turned out better. But since I didn't, many of the pieces came out lumpy.
  • After completing the lead cane with ribbon, I made the sides based on the design around some of the windows in the Sagrada Familia. The fabric I used was too dark and took away from the focus of the window. If the stained-glass window had worked out, the background could have been fixed. But since there is no way to fix the window, it's not worth the effort to change the background.

Although it was a tough piece to work on, I am very happy with my design of the colours and shapes of the stained-glass window. I'm not sure that I will ever come back to this piece, but I might be able to pull it off if I used foundation paper piecing. That could be an interesting challenge, especially if it didn't involve a deadline! Thanks for taking this learning journey with me. You can read the whole adventure in the following posts:
On the very bright side, I now have an amazing collection of solids and silk thread. There's got to be a few wonderful projects resulting from these!

Don't forget to see the creations of the other participating art quilters. See the entire schedule here.

Thank you Alida for organizing this wonderful blog hop. Next time I'm going to try to be a little less ambitious!


  1. Do NOT beat yourself up! When I look at this I see a fantastic, creative piece. The flow of the colors is wonderful. You took on a really challenging project AND you made a great piece. I think it ROCKS!

    Sometimes we are our own harshest critics.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words. I guess it's worse because I was hoping to exhibit it - but there's no way it belongs in an art gallery. That's ok, there will be other opportunities.

  2. I think your project is stunning!

  3. See what you learned though! The design and colors are beautiful and your technical difficulties taught you how to tackle the next one, should you choose to. It really is lovely

    1. Thanks. You're right - I learned so much, and after a few days, I think I know how to salvage it - at least enough to put it up in the house.

  4. I believe you captured the stained glass windows perfectly. Older glass is not smooth. The bubbles bring interest, just as your varied quilting motifs do. Lovely.

    1. Thank you so much Gwyned. I hope I will get over my disappointment and at least fix it enough to hang at home. I hate to put it away after so much work :-)

  5. It is wonderful! I loved La Sagrada Familia and the feeling inside with all the light and color and I think you captured that very well. You had an idea and you went for it! I have lots of ideas and have followed through on very few due to lack of confidence I think. But I do have a few things I started that took completely different paths than originally planned! Frequently things don't end up quite as I envisioned them or a better idea will come as I am working so I change things on the fly. I had an idea about a change you might consider, but you may feel I am being critical. But I'll say it anyways, in case you agree it is a good idea :-) You could consider splitting it into 2 narrow pieces with an arched top and inserting a taller narrow piece in the middle to make a triptych. That might be a way to try a different method on another piece and put them together to create something new.

    1. Thank you very much for your idea. It's true that our ideas don't always end up where we expect them to! I've decided to put this one away for a bit. It's been too intense and I want to enjoy life again. I'm sure that I'll get back to it when I'm ready. I will keep your idea in mind. Thanks!

  6. Your quilt is beautiful. I have been thinking about the wrinkling that you were frustrated with. I think the issue is the ribbon that is the leading for the stained glass. Ribbon is not very stretchy depending on the type of ribbon. It certainly is not as stretchy as fabric. So I think it is what is causing the wrinkling. The give for the ribbon is different than the give of the fabric pieces.

    I would have ironed fusible web on the back of black fabric. Then I would have rotary cut strips to the desired width on the bias. I would have ironed it down over the glass pieces and then stitched it down. I would have used invisible thread and a narrow zigzag on all edges. Although I guess you could have used black thread and a straight stitch.

  7. I think you did a fantastic interpretation of the windows! I am sorry that you got frustrated in the process of making it, but I think that sometimes fabric wants to do what fabric wants, and we shouldn't be so hard on ourselves if the end result is not as smooth as other material would be: fluidity is the beauty of fabric afterall! :) Thanks for sharing the lessons that you learned and your amazing talent!! I am happy that you joined the blog hop!!

  8. Wow! That is terrific. And all those curved pieces. Whew! It is a stunning quilt.

  9. Hello Andrée,

    Oh my goodness, what a lot of work. Such a shame you aren't totally happy with the result, but nobody else will see it the same way you do. I think it looks great - such lovely colours!

    Thank you for linking up with Free Motion Mavericks!

    Love, Muv

  10. Beautiful work, I would be very proud of it!


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