Nothing pleases me like sewing. As much as I procrastinate with most things, when it comes time to sew, I am in there like a dirty shirt. This post will take you through part two of my painted bridge quilt. For part one see previous post. I powered through the machine quilting all in one day, but please, for the sake of your own sanity, allot more time than that.
For this stage you will need:
Painted cloth from previous step, thoroughly ironed
Garden variety sewing machine
Various matching or contrasting threads
Piece of backing fabric same size as painted piece
Piece of quilt batting same size or a little bigger
Spray-baste (or pins if you prefer)
Board or canvas
Staples and staple gun
Wire and nails for hanging
The first step is to make your quilt sandwich. I decided to try out spray-baste with this project and found it worked really great. Was a little sticky but you could wash it out afterwards. You start by spraying all over your batting, then positioning your backing fabric. It is in theory re-positionable but try to get it on your first go because it buckles if you try to change it. Then you flip over and stick down your painted piece. Try not to smoosh the whole package too much as the spray when wet will compress it more permanently.
Let it dry for a couple minutes and head to your sewing machine. I think I had my stitch size set at 3 but pick something that looks good to you. With your painting facing up, you are just going to trace each of the areas of colour. You can be as detailed as you like, or not. I went off the lines quite a bit to begin with and I think it just added to the sketched quality, so don’t be too too careful.
I started in the middle with the bigger lines and worked my way out to each side. This tacks your batting into place really well so you don’t get any folds. Then I went back and did all the fine detail work. Working this way also means you are feeling like a pro by the time you get to the fine work. When I got to the VERY fine area in the middle of my piece I balled up the rest of the quilt with elastics so I could work freely without fighting the excess fabric.
I used thick dark brown thread for most of the lines, dark red for the rust-coloured areas, and on the railings a soft purple thread designed for jeans. I used a rust colour for my bobbin thread to make it even on the back. I think the more thread colours you used, the better this would look, so go nuts.
I did a fair amount of hand-embroidery after the fact, to outline the little people and do the loose crosses in the rafters. You could skip that part if you wanted to. The next time I try a piece like this I would like to do quite a bit more hand-embroidery. I think it finishes it off nicely. You could even do the whole thing that way.
Here it is all quilted. I love the way it bumps out all the different elements. I think you could take this even further with trapunto (a sort of selective stuffing method) or a double layer of batting. You could hang it just like this or use it as a centerpiece for a larger quilt.
I chose to mount it on a piece of MDF since it will be sold alongside paintings. I laid the piece face-down and put the board on top. Then I temporarily taped around the edges and flipped it over. I wiggled it around until centered, then flipped back over and stapled it profusely. I stretched it a little so it would hug the board, but not so much that I skewed the image or flattened the batting. Then I put a couple nails into the back and wrapped each end of a wire around them for hanging. It came out to 32″ x 16″.
Very important: Always sign and date your work on the back. I also stitch-signed mine with a free-motion foot, you can see it peeking around the bottom right edge.
Here is the picture I was working with for comparision:
Let me know if you make something along similar lines, I would love to see the outcome! It really is so simple, just a little time-consuming. But isn’t that the way with anything worth doing?
I’m unabashedly happy with how it turned out, haha. Can’t wait to make another one, and I am going to have the chance real soon! The last week of this month I am going to be making art in the window of the M&T Deli (Queen St, Fredericton), for the same people who put on this auction. I think it’s going to be a real experience.
I’m going to play with this sort of subject matter a little more too. I like the idea of “softening” industry. Now more than ever we are trying to marry technology with humanity. We have seen the vulgar results when these two areas are left to their own devices. For me, representing this relationship in cloth is a no-brainer.