Sunday, September 23, 2018

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Fall 2018

Welcome to the Blogger's Quilt Festival - Fall 2018 hosted by Amy Ellis of Amy's Creative Side.

Connections & Intersections

I've been working on this art quilt for months now, mostly a little bit at a time, until the deadline started looming over me! As much as I dislike that 8 letter word, it does help with motivation. 😊

If you read previous posts, you'll notice that I called it the "Connected by a thread" project, which was the theme for our fibre art pieces. This art quilt was created for the Out of the Box fiber art group's exhibition next summer. When I finished the piece and had attached a label without the title, it came to me - Connections and Intersections. Since the piece is abstract, you can decide for yourself what the title means! 😊😊😊

Connections and Intersections art quilt
I want to tell you a little about how I made this, why it ended up looking the way it does and what I learned.

I'll start at the beginning. When I want to create a piece to fit a theme, I almost never have a problem coming up with ideas. The issue is usually working through the ideas to see if I can pull them off in whatever time frame I have. My first ideas tend to be a little too complicated and at this time in my life, I just don't have a year to spend on one piece.

After discarding a couple of complex and more literal ideas, I decided on a few criteria:
  • Use my own hand-dyed fabrics;
  • Make it an abstract piece;
  • Try a few fun techniques;
  • Use my knowledge of design theory to put it all together in a cohesive piece.
The background

After picking out hand-dyed fabrics that worked well together, I sewed a few pieces together using improv piecing. Some of it worked and some of it didn't, but I knew that I would use them somewhere, eventually.

The bottom ruffle piece came about when I was trying to sew some of these improv pieces together using curves. In this instance, I overdid the curve, which came out like the sleeve of a garment - the ultimate curve! I decided to keep it and added some fabric underneath. That's how the piece became 3-D.

I finished the 3-D edge with a machine zigzag stitch and then attached little strips of cheesecloth on both sides of the edge. Over this I needle-felted some lovely brown, beige and green wool roving.

The layered circle on the right was created to try out some of Sue Spargo's embroidery techniques (see my first post in Related links below). It was made as a background for some beading.

Here's a picture of the finished 3-D part of the piece which reminds me of a cave. I added the little purple-grey piece that was beautifully frayed and then later embroidered the inside. Doesn't it look like a cozy place to hide out?
The finished "cave"

Woven fabric finished
I then added the woven piece. You can read more about this in my previous post (see Related links).
Woven fabric in progress

Later on, I embroidered along some of the lines to cut up the woven piece since my daughter said that it looked like an amoeba. Hopefully the final version looks less amoeba-like, although I guess there's nothing wrong with amoebas.

The bottom part of the piece

The first extensive stitching was done over the cave. I found some really beautiful variegated embroidery threads and played with straight-ish lines and circles to change it up.

Next I used some lovely wool that I corded on the side and above the cave.

I used a lovely navy wool thread that shows up well for the seed stitches on the purple fabric next to the cave.

Next came the improv beading to top the circles. I've heard of improv beading and seen some beautiful work by members of the Out of the Box group, but I had never done any. So through Google, I found Robin Atkins's blog - Beadlust, and a free downloadable copy of her first book, Exploring Creativity with Beads! This is the result of my first improv beading.
Improvisational beading
You can see also that I added a braided bracelet to accentuate the curving fabric changes. The bracelet was made by either my daughter or my niece. I've been wanting to create art pieces with these bracelets for a long time. I hope that this is the first of many!

Details of the woven pieces and the triangles
I used up the rest of the woven pieces by covering parts of them with felt and then adding an extra strip of needle felting from the cave between them. I finished the strip with French knots.

I also started adding wool felted triangles. I used different embroidery stitches to attach them and then embroidered around them.

Eventually I decided to just embroider triangles to add texture instead of adding more wool felt.

From the beginning I wanted to add the driftwood to this piece. The hard part was deciding where it should go. You can read more about this in "What I learned". It finally made it next to the beads, under the bracelet.

Details of the bracelet, improv beading and driftwood talisman

The idea of creating the driftwood talisman came together when I saw the cover of  Quilting Arts Magazine (Issue 91). Victoria Gertenbach, the author of the article, had rocks, bones and shells embellished with embroidery and beads. I wanted to keep the driftwood simple but I added some fabric that I had used in the woven piece and beaded it using some amethysts pieces from one of my mother's necklaces. I added a feather charm for a simple dangling effect. You can also see more amethyst beads to the right of the circle.

Finally I finished the top of the piece with simple embroidered swirls in variegated thread.
Embroidered swirls
The quilt label is part of the improv piecing that didn't make it into the quilt.

Connections & Intersections' improv label
What I learned
  • After finishing Connections and Intersections, I was so wiped out that I have barely done anything since except read and sleep. Today I'm finally starting to feel like myself and started reading the many, many blog posts in my inbox. That's when I realised that the Bloggers Quilt Festival is on. Honestly that's how I learn about most of these events - by people who are participating. So thank you all for keeping me in the loop, when I finally get around to reading the blog posts I receive!
  • I almost always ask my kids for feedback on my work. It was so funny to get my son's feedback on this: "I don't know...what's it supposed to be?" I guess he's not the abstract art type! However, my daughter helped me a lot with the design process. Thanks!
  • As is becoming my habit, I used many photos of this ongoing piece to determine what would come next. This piece was very much an intuitive creation. Since it was abstract, there was no right or wrong, just my intuition, the design principles that I tried to apply and the many photocopies of the ongoing piece with marks and notes.
  • As I mentioned above, I knew that I wanted the driftwood on the piece but didn't make up my mind until almost the end as to where it would be. I thought that I wanted it at the top, but in the end, it would have made the piece too top heavy, so down it went.
  • I'm really grateful that this piece end up as well as it did because I have to admit that by the last weekend before it was due, I was so exhausted that I had a hard time with everything. It's probably a good thing in hindsight because it made me keep the driftwood and the embroidery on the top of the piece very, very simple - which is exactly what it needed 😊
Related links
Linking parties

Project details
Connections & Intersections
14" X 17"
Materials: hand-dyed cottons, wool felt and thread, cotton and silk thread, drift wood, beads and charm 
Techniques: dry felting, embroidery, couching, weaving, hand quilting


  1. wow!
    what an interesting piece and your thoughts behind the design and what you learned make it even more amazing!

    thanks so much for linking up!

    1. Thanks so much Brooke. I think that making an abstract piece took more thinking that a regular art quilt!

  2. Love the project. I recently purchased a felting machine and you have given me some inspiration on how to incorporate felting into art quilts. Thanks!!

  3. What a stunning little piece! I love all the little bits to discover. Thanks for linking up to TGIFF!

    1. Thanks Katy, it was a real learning experience! Thanks for hosting TGIFF.

  4. Such a fun, creative piece - well done!

  5. this is such a fun piece! i love reading about your construction.

    1. Thanks Sherry. I really was quite the learning process.

  6. Such a beautiful and unique piece! Thanks for linking up with Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal and congrats on your finish.

    1. Thank you Patty. There was a deadline but the bonus is being able to show it off at the OMG finish! I guess I better start thinking of next month's OMG project :-)

  7. This is just fascinating. Thank you for sharing so many details and your process.

  8. Hello Andr ée,

    This is hilarious... totally unplanned, making it up as you go along, riotously colourful... typical Andrée!

    Thank you for linking up with Free Motion Mavericks!

    Love, Muv


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