Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Make a Textile Leaf Bookmark or Appliqué motif - Tutorial

Having been involved in sewing and crafts all my life, it's inevitable that, at times, my work sometimes crosses over between quilting and textiles.

By making your own textile leaves using organza, thread and soluble stabiliser, these attractive leaves can be used either as bookmarks for the 'bookworms' in your life, or as appliqué embellishments for your quilts or textile art work. Even with the advent of e-readers and iPads, etc, many people still enjoy holding and reading a 'real' book. Or they are the perfect complement to your glorious collection of 'coffee table' books or quilting magazines that you love to sit and browse through. 

Eucalyptus leaves...

As bookmarks, they make great gifts, especially if you want something unusual and personal that you can produce in a short space of time and with few material requirements. 

This video tutorial tells you everything you need to know to create your own fabric leaves in any shape you like. Inspired by nature, you will learn how to source ideas and images to create a traceable pattern or template that can be used and re-used. 

Essentially, the technique is a form of thread sketching using the free motion foot on your machine. Even if you are new to free motion quilting, a little practice will see you producing these attractive textile leaf shapes in no time at all! 

Requirements are few and only very small quantities of fabric, soluble stabiliser and thread are required, so these leaves are also very economical to make. 

If you don't want to use the leaves as bookmarks (or even if you do!), they can be created in any leaf shape that takes your fancy. 

This one is a Ginkgo biloba leaf - the organza gives it a lovely, translucent effect...

and this is the leaf of the Fittonia albivenis skeleton plant...

I hope you enjoy learning how to create your own beautiful leaf bookmarks or appliqué embellishments.

Deborah Wirsu
To see more of my work, visit my web page

Monday, October 13, 2014

Lettering and Bookmaking

I was thrilled when I saw our new challenge: Lettering. This, because I am so fascinated by the shapes of letters, from the earliest Cuneinform and Hieroglyphs, up till our time with thousand different fonts.
And comming from Norway, I am so fascinated by the exotic elegance of Arabic and Asian writing.
I have used lettering many times in my quilts, like here in our challenge: Every single day, where I used the Chinese sign for Tea:

But, the earliest form of lettering in Scandinavia, Runer, are just as fascinating. I used them in one of my quilts about our Viking-ships, here is a picture of my Design-board, where I'm trying out different texts.
And this brings me to my second topic, bookmaking. 800-1000 years ago, at the time of the Runes, there were no books in Scandinavia that we know of. Writing were done in Runes on stones or wooden sticks, Runepinner. A few of these have survived, one of the most fascinating is one tiny piece of wood, about 12-15 cm long, where the row of boats you see at the bottom was engraved. At the back of this piece of wood, were the text you see to the right. These dates to around 1250, while the text at the top left was found at the Oseberg ship and is from around 820.  

In 2010, Laura had a show in DMTV, where she talked about bookmaking, and this show opened a new world for me.  So I made my first sketchbook, filled with many kinds of paper. 

On the covers, I've used Silk paper I had made . On the front, I had laminated in a leaf from a plant from my garden,

and on the back, I tried to use some golden flakes:

Later, I've made this one, a concertina book

 The cover is lino print on cotton rag paper, and it is, as all of my books are, filled with decorated paper, photos, prints etc.

 The next is a long stitch binding, the cover is hand made paper with embedded leafs:

And this last one I made, with soft leather cover:

If you want to have a try, the videos from DMTV are in Archive Two (you have to subscribe to DMTV to get access). You can also find a few instructive pages here:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

November challenge

Theme for November challenge:


In last time I often see letters on quilts. I don't know if it's fashionable or if it's only because I like it. 
There are so many different possibilities to use letters on quilts:
calligraphy, monograms, handwriting or the fonts of the computer editor.
You can write nonsense or use words or a text which is important to you.
The letters can be     - printed
                                       - painted
                                       - handwritten
                                       - embroidered

I am inspired by:
- Jette Clover
- Sara Impey
- Deborah Boschert


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Digital Riot

As I was still waiting for all of my materials and equipment to be delivered to me here in the UK, I had very little to work with for this piece. I had, however, just bought myself a new Epson WF2530 printer with pigment ink so I thought this would be the perfect time to try printing on fabric, something I have wanted to do for sometime.

I manipulated a digital image of one of my oil paintings using Paint Shop Pro 7's various effects and filters to create a wild, colourful image. I then printed the image onto 6 x A4 pieces of fabric. Here is the original image:

I then joined the pieces together using fusible webbing and quilted the design around the shapes using blue, orange, hot pink and lime green cotton. I haven't attached the binding yet but will do once all of my equipment turns up and it will be a simple black binding (as pictured).

Materials used: Pigment printed cotton, polyester and rayon thread, fusible webbing


My first thought when I red WILD was Tiger. My next idea was the Scandinavien equivalent, lynx. But I changed my mind, and wanted to go more abstract. So I decided to revisit a theme I have played with before. In Iceland, there is a lake  filled with floating mini-icebergs from the nearby glacier. It is called Jokulsarlon, which means "glacial river lagoon". The lines, colour and texture are really fascinating. I painted some fabric in this wonderful green-blue kind of colour of the glacier, cut it up and pieced it together again, and layered it with a polyester kind of fiber, usually used in scrapboking, some of which were manipulated with heat.
I quilted it all with parallell lines and framed it with a simple black binding.

 And some close ups: 

'Wild Thing' by Linden Lancaster

Wild Thing by Linden Lancaster 2014

These extra-ordinary 'Leaf Sea Dragons' are my favourite exhibit at the Melbourne Aquarium. How can such a creature be real?
Fabric was firstly fused to the hand-dyed background, then enhanced with Inktense pencils and a little metallic paint.
I then free-motioned quilted the piece to add depth and secure the raw edges. A few Angelina threads trapped in the quilting adds a little sparkle.

'Wild Thing' detail  by Linden Lancaster 2014

Wild Shine

There are a lot of meanings for the word “wild”. What to choose? Wild nature? Stormy? Ecstatic? Or something mad?

So many possibilities and no decision...

And as usual the idea came suddenly while I was drinking coffee with chocolate. I like any kind of chocolate and get wild of it. Sometimes I forgot to through away chocolate wrappers. What if to make a quilt from it? This wrappers are usually very  shiny. I don’t like a lot of shine in quilts and what if to get crazy and make shiny quilt?

This is the result – “Wild shine”

Materials: chocolate wrappers, felt, beads.

Red Tussock

Red Tussock
Anyone who read my recent post about quilt disasters will have some insight into how this quilt came about. After a number of 'problems' I abandoned my first quilt for this theme (Wild) and began again.

The question of working out why the original quilt (which featured quite a dominant, abstracted wild animal scene), just wasn't working for me was answered to some end by a friend of mine, who suggested that, due to my current frenzied timetable of music, quilting and work commitments, perhaps I innately felt the need to create a more tranquil scene. 

Red Tussock was created totally free-form. The free-cut, pieced background uses several different fabrics, then shards of organza, which had been fused with painted fusible web, were cut freehand using a rotary cutter and arranged to create layers of depth of colour. 

Red Tussock - detail
Once the organza had been stitched into position, I added the tussock detail with machine thread sketching, using a variegated thread and several darker threads for depth. 

Red Tussock - detail
Coincidentally, the back of the quilt creates quite a pleasing image, in its own right. 

Red Tussock - back of quilt
I was a little disappointed that I was not able to satisfactorily 'bring off' my original idea, and as a result, this quilt did not benefit from the time I normally put into a design, but the making of it gave me a feeling of relaxation and freedom, which I think is just what I needed at the time. 

More of my work can be seen on my blog.
Deborah Wirsu

Tui Trio

I chose to interpret Wild as wildlife, and the native flora and fauna of my adopted country.

A New Zealand postage stamp design inspired my subject. We have many extinct and several active volcanoes, most in the North Island. The shape of Rangitoto Island is very familiar to us, lying as it does off the East Coast of Auckland. It has the typical cone shape, but very shallow sides. You can get a ferry to the Island, and to some of the other islands, like Waiheke, which has many  boutique wineries and other local products.

When I was doing my City and Guilds, I spent some time working in my sketch book and taking photos of New Zealand flax, phormium, or its Maori name, Harakeke. In the end I found its growth was rather cluttered, and even though I made samples for its spiral seedheads, I went in another direction. But I still have a hankering to feature flax. Its flower spikes are quite tall and very attractive to nectar loving birds. Down where I live, it is mainly the bellbird, but in the north there are many tuis. Tui is also the name of a beer here, which has slogans with unlikely claims, followed by "yeah, right!". They are pretty sexist, but actually often very funny.

Generally speaking New Zealand wildlife does not have the wonderful variety and flamboyance of Australian birds and flowers. Our birds are often shy and brown, and our plants have green flowers, or subtle colours!

I chose to quilt the background first and then dye it, before adding the plants and birds.

Here is a link to the tui's song. The bellbird has a prettier song, but they seem similar.

Buchstabensalat (Letter salat)

After reading our new theme almost two months ago I tought of our garden. As we have had rain every few days at least all summer all the wild flowers and plants grew well. But at the same time summer vacations started and with the children at home all day time to work on the quilt was very spare. Two weeks ago school began. My oldest is in second grade and in the first days at school the children revisited what they had learned last year.

I had used some letter stencils recently in an online class with Ineke Berlyn with ink sprays. With the beginning of the new school year I decided to use the again for my new quilt.
Instead of sprayed ink I worked with paintsticks. I used the stencils in several layers and with several paintstick colours. I never covered the whole stencil but always only parts to add to the wild impression. The final layer is made of single letters. Put together in order they spell my name.

The quilting lines were added at random like pencil lines across a piece of paper. Instead of clean binded edges I cut them with a pinky rotary cutter and left them raw.

Fabric: commercial and dyed cotton sateen fabric by Heide Stoll-Weber
Thread: cotton
Batting: polyester
Stenciled paintsticks


Wild Scraps

Gabriele Bach - Wild Scraps 

Wild Scraps - detail
When I read the theme for this challenge, I thought, I just have made a real wild quilt. "Backside Mystery", my quilt for the last challenge, is wild.
Ok, this is a new challenge, there are waiting more "wild" ideas. See also my post "TOO MUCH" .
I have a box full of little fabric scraps, which I can't throw away. I often try to use them but it is very difficult. They are a wild mixture of colour, pattern and style. Now their chance had come. I looked for dark red scraps and used them just in the size they were. With some trying I got a pleasing design. Again the seam allowances are on the right side and the thread ends are not hided, but short cut. 
I embellished the quilt with little red feltballs and when I embroidered very much beads. Sometimes I throw a lot of beads on my quilts and then I don't have the heart to embroider them. I fear it may be to much. This time I did the opposite and got wild with embroidering beads. I just set a space, there the beads should be.

The background is self dyed cotton.

Wild about quilting

 When the theme "wild" came up my first thought was that now I will go wild with quilting. My last pieces "Roots" and "Spaced Bottles" were not quilted as much as they probably should have been, so this time I wanted to focus on dense quilting. As that was my focus I thought that an abstract design would be a great choice for this activity. I like curvy lines so I made some value sketches with lots of swiping curvy lines to resemble some kind of pods.  Even if I have not got wild with colors, there are a great range of values of pink and grey. Fabric used are cottons and the piece is fused. The piece has  a narrow binding.

Lables. Ann-Mari  Franzen, dense quilting, cotton fused  hand dyed fabrics, Rayon threads, Wild with quilting

Here Be Dragons

Wild was a great opportunity to conciously explore abstract design and then colour it using all the colours of the rainbow, paying attention to Design Principals. 
It started well, three sheets of paper, black, white and grey were cut freehand using an 80/20 proportion of curved to straight lines. That was hard, the ratio went off but never mind, it's freehand.
Some of these pieces were then arranged and pasted on an A4 sheet of white paper: Good design, good balance of value. It's still abstract and my brain is creating shapes, a boat on a surging storm wave! Rearrange them to a square format and it looks even better. I really am being quite wild in staying on track.
 Here is where it all took on a life of it's own, no wild colour, crazy quilting, beading or metallic threads. At this point the complimentary colour scheme, restrained quilting, beading and metallic threads insisted on their presence, Here on the edge of design Be Dragons.

Techniques: Appliqué, beading, metallic threads, machine and hand quilting, commercial and hand dyed cottons