Sunday, December 15, 2013

Stop the World - I Want to Get Off!

My first thought for this theme was a very calm and tranquil image based on a Zen garden I had seen in Japan. However, after a quite a stressful day, I thought of the phrase ‘Stop the world, I want to get off!’ and I knew I had the basis for the 'Escape' theme. 
Quite rapidly I formed the idea of using cogs to signify all of the events and happenings in everyday life and the world in general – all of those things that we (try to) normally balance on a day to day basis. The chaos and number of cogs in the piece represents life when it just gets too much and we just want to 'escape'.

I used many different fabrics from hand dyed to commercial cotton, shot silk, Hessian, tulle and cheesecloth to represent the many different aspects, events and happenings in our lives. Some are big and bold; others are less specific and less defined. The cogs start in my head and extend over the piece to the very edges, giving the idea that the world extends past the borders of the piece.

I painted the background with fabric paints and silk screened an image of my own profile onto the background. I then fused fabric and cut out the cogs, laying them in an overlapping fashion. For the cheesecloth cogs, I first painted them with acrylic paint. I stitched around the cogs with straight and blanket stitch before sandwiching the quilt and quilting with mono-filament.

Amanda Sievers

Sunday, December 1, 2013

November. Escape from grayness.

I could not cook up where or from whom to escape for a long time. I broke down my mind… So finally I decided to forget about this theme for a while. 

But time runs so quickly and suddenly I realized that there is only one week remains till reveal day. I haven’t started to sew yet… I even don’t have any idea… I can not postpone this any more!

So, I was sitting in my sewing room with a cup of coffee, the weather behind the window was hateful: rain, cold, everything is totally grey and black… I hate such weather! Such days in our sunny city usually happen in November so I don’t like this month.  

And in my sewing room was warm, a lot of bright patches around and a cup of coffee. WOW! This is an idea! 
“November. Escape from grayness.”
I have an idea and it’s time to sew! And it takes two days to make!

January 2014 Theme..... "Balance"

When I read everyone's weekly updates especially when deadlines are looming, there are some common themes that come out.  Usually they reference that time is running out and that projects are still unfinished. So, this challenge theme will be "Balance", something we all strive for, but is hard to do.

Enjoy, Katie

Saturday, November 30, 2013

If Not Here, Then Where?

The theme of escape can bring many different things to mind, some pleasurable, some fanciful and some more dire. I think that it would be a rare individual who never wished for an escape from one thing or another.
In my quilt I wanted to ask the question “ Escape to where?” Simply put, if I were having a perfect day, where would I be? What would I be doing? Who would I be with?
The answers to these questions would probably vary depending on the situation that I wanted to escape. If it were the cold of winter, I might want to be on a tropical island. If it were from the tedium of everyday life, I might want some place exciting or stimulating. If it were from the noise and chaos of a big city, I might want to be in a tranquil and serene place. The possibilities, like the reasons, are infinite and personal.

In this quilt I have created a map of an imaginary place to represent all of the imaginary places that I might wish to be. My presence is represented by an abstract copper coloured symbol which symbolizes a compass for direction but with a central square which represents me. I am, therefore, the heart of this desire and the chooser of the destination.

The outlined compasses represent some of the possibilities of where I might want to be.

Tempus Effugere


Escaping time is one of the joys of creating your own fabric and working with it. It is time consuming but brings pleasure as the imagery and texture develop and the final touches are added.

The quilt was an escape from the tumult of daily life as the various processes and hand quilting required focussed attention. It was also an exploration of several new processes, and a way of working with art cloth to transform it into a quilt.



Tray Dye with Procion dyes; screen print using textile inks and thickened Procion dyes;  discharge with Jaquard Discharge Paste; Stamping; screen print through freezer paper stencil; gold leaf; hand and machine quilting

Sunset at Jimbaran Beach, Bali

So many differnt interpretations came to my mind when I learned about our new theme. Quilting in itself is an escape for me, as it is probably for the other members of this group. But also reading, listening to music, dreaming can be ways to escape the demands of everyday life. And of course traveling.
My husband and I enjoyed traveling before we had children. My favorite place of all we have been to is the indonesian island of Bali, and not only because of the wonderful batik fabrics produced there. The people are so friendly, you really get the feeling it still comes from the heart and not because as a tourist they hope you will buy something or leave a good tip. As we were staying in a hotel in Jimbaran we often went to some fishermen's restaurant directly on the beach in Jimbaran. There we would sit at the table, barefoots in the sand and enjoy a wonderful meal while watching the sun sut in front of us.
I hope to return to this wonderful island one day when our children are older. For the present time I can only escape there in toughts. The memories of our vacation are still very present.

The background is made of commercial hand dyed fabrics by Heide Stoll-Weber. The black horizont line, the clouds, the sun and its reflection in the water are wool felt and machine felted to the background. The sun reflection is quilted with metallic thread to add more glitter.
cotton fabric
wool felt
polyester batting
metallic and polyester threads.


'Escape Plan' by Linden Lancaster

After reading about collage process used by Valerie S. Goodwin, I decided to make an ‘Art quilt map’ to fit in with this theme of ‘Escape’. The building plan I have used is fictional and has no particular significance. It is up to the viewer to decide if it is a prison, castle or a house. 

My primary intention of this piece was not so much in interpreting the theme, but to present a visual buffet of shape, line, texture and colour.
The collage process was quite an enjoyable one:
1.      Light coloured fabric were cut (or torn) and sewn onto a substrate.
2.      Chunky hand sewing was then added in a random way to give this background some extra texture.
3.      Fabric paint was added sparingly with a brush to unify patchwork pieces together. I also added a stencils throughout the process.
4.      A few sheer fabrics were then applied with misty fuse.
5.      The linear and rectangular elements of the plan were then fused into place and thread painted/quilted.
6.      More hand sewing was then added to give the piece more interest.
I think I would like to make another piece of a place that I identify with– something with paddocks, rivers and dirt roads. I also like the idea of adding your own poetry, like a Haiku.

'Escape Plan' by Linden Lancaster 2013
'Escape Plan' detail 1

'Escape Plan' detail 2


At first glance, this was an interesting theme. But when I started working with it, I had problems how to solve it as a quilt. I decided to go abstract, focusing on this:
Escape = an act of breaking free from confinement or control.
We live in a world where, in certain environments, being "out of the box" is not always a good thing.  You have to fit in. So, I've tried to show this by breaking it all down to squares - in rows - with military precision, except for the one escaping and blooming. Because these people are sometimes regarded like    a weed, like a dandelion. They are strong, beautiful, full of colour, they have freed themselves from the rules of the garden and pop up wherever they want!


I had about 25 things on my suggestions list for the theme of Escape. I chose to go with the theme of cages. Aside from the literal idea of keeping wild birds in cages or setting them free, it seemed like we are all in cages. Sometimes we make our own bars, by creating a home, an environment, where we are cocooned from the wildness of nature. Sometimes other people put cages around us to protect us, and sometimes we are truly imprisoned by others' desires for power and control.

When we have the chance to escape to freedom, not everyone chooses that path.

Birds are naturally free in the elements, but they then have the 'prison' of finding food, shelter and avoiding predators.

Life is never entirely black or white, and that's why I chose Dichotomy as my title.

This quilt can be hung either in the black or white orientation.

The technicalities were that I drew the basic outlines of the cages and birds on soluble stabiliser and stitched it from the white side. I then washed the quilt to remove the soluble before more stitching and applique. The advantage of the outline stitching was that I had the exact placement for both sides of the quilt. The main stitching was done with 30 weight thread, while the quilting was done with very fine thread. Even though there are little 'ticks' of fine black thread on the white side where I changed direction, I find they add a certain pattern to the stitch.


When this theme was announced there was only one thing that appeared in my mind. It was our plot with olive trees and the view from our house in Greece. This really is the place to which I can escape and use my time to all the things that make me happy and creative and with very little "musts".
I chose to make a piece showing the wonderful  view I can enjoy and look at every day when I am there with the olive trees in the foreground and the Messenia Gulf  and the peninsula, on the other side of the Gulf with the high mountain top, the Prophet Elias, 2400 meters over above sea level.

The background is  whole cloth, painted with Dye-na-Flow paint and four patches are sun printed with Dye-na -flow paint, screen printing ink and fabric paint with letter masks made from freezer paper  with the letters esc , as the word esc on the PC keyboard.
On top of this I have printed some olive trees on ExtravOrganza and fused them using white Misty fuse.

Finally the piece is quilted with running stitches and seed stitches with cotton and metallic threads. In order to emphasize the trees I put some paint with Shiva paint sticks on top of the embroidery stitches on top of the trees.


This was a rather fun piece for me. It is a self portrait at 10 years of age. References include a menagerie of much loved characters such as Stormy Misty's Foal, Kavik the Wolf Dog and cast members of Peterson's field guides to birds, insects, reptiles and amphibians.
Perched on my shoulder is what was my ever constant companion, a hand-raised starling named Chicken Hawk.
Today I live with yet another orphaned starling named Birdy and I still love to escape into books. Not much has changed really!

Hand drawing (portrait)
as well as photo transfer for the starling, frog, butterflies and wolf.
Hand and machine stitching.
Prisma color pencil and textile medium throughout.

With special thanks to Laura Kemshall who taught me that sketching is not just for paper.

By Heidi Wulfraat

Escape Route

November 2013 Challenge "Escape"

My challenge is called "Escape Route".  I find that one should always know a way out of something.  Be it a back door, a friend you can call at the last minute to help or having a time-out.  Everyone needs to know where to go and the route.  

I have used crazy blocks as my foundation as it conveys that life is busy and in each square I have filled them with seed and bugle beads, pearle cotton threads and silk ribbon for the embellishments.  Only one pink ribbon has a clear path to the flower, oh an "Escape Route”.
Escape Route - Katie Pidgeon

Escape \Route - detail



With the theme 'Escape' set for October - November, I thought this was going to be an easy task as the word 'escape' has quite a variety of interpretations - to break free from something; avoid danger; seep from a crack; to elude; an inadvertent or involuntary exclamation; etc.

Two ideas came to mind, but not at the same time. While driving along a city street not long after the theme was announced, I noticed some fire escapes on a couple of older, multi-storey buildings - these images resonated with me so I had my 'idea'!

But after a period of sketching and paper shuffling, I felt that, although the design was taking shape, there was something lacking. I went into limbo for a while…

One night I woke in the middle of the night with another, quite obscure idea, and decided to try this one out instead (I have a habit of doing this!). However, this piece eventually proved a dark and depressing abstract work that I have put aside for another incarnation.

So back to plan A...

'Fire' is quite self-explanatory. I took a few photos around the city and used ideas from these to create the mix of steps and ladders - wobbly, insecure and 'flat'. After studying some graffiti art, I created the quilt graffiti. I think this is the first time I've ever put graffiti on anything! The flames painted on the wall, and the wobbly, tangled steps, hint at the hesitation one might feel at going down these fire escapes, despite an absolute need to do so when flames are licking at your heels.

I drew the graffiti using Inktense blocks, replicating the colours used for the steps and ladders.

Fire! - detail 1
The piece is quilted in a random mix of straight lines and curves, hinting at the shapes and letters found in graffiti art. 
Fire! - detail 2
This piece is 15" x 15" and constructed from cotton fabric and batting, viscose and cotton threads and painted with Derwent Inktense blocks. Applique is fused, raw-edge, with free-motion quilting. 

More of my work can be seen on my blog


Friday, November 29, 2013

Escape challenge quilt

The ESCAPE theme for a challenge.  And right after I had faced my own challenge being alone, snowed in without electricity and no possibility for escape for several days.  

My list of materials to use for this piece started with a stencil of tree branches that I really wanted to use.  How could I fit that into an image of escape? I toyed with painting several colored leaves on the branches with one slowly falling to the ground.  That could symbolize changing seasons and the coming winter.  But the stencil was a negative shape of the tree with the color to be applied on the outside of the shape rather than a stencil of the tree branches.  Harder to deal with but I really wanted to use that stencil.  And I did--with acrylic paint over a fabric that was perfect for portraying tree bark. I then had a great stencil on a very stiff piece of fabric (from the acrylic paint) that would need to be quilted someway.  With acrylic painting on fabric every needle punch leaves a hole and if something had to be taken out there might be a lot of holes.  I left that problem for later and found a good image of geese flying south in their V-formation and stenciled that on with markers.  Stencilled the letters for escape with a marker and all was solved except the quilting method.

Snowflakes would be good--French knots or beading.  I settled on some clear crystal beads.  I was aiming for a random sprinkling of beads to tack the layers together and to appear as light snow.  

There was more thinking time about how to create the small quilt and reacting to each step than time spent stenciling and beading which isn't the way I usually  proceed but it worked.

Materials:  cotton fabric, stencils, acrylic paint, markers and glass beads.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Our Next Theme: ESCAPE

As I think fondly back to the summer months just spent with my children, I'm reminded how exciting it was to travel to new places.  This summer I was lucky enough to go on two separate trips: one to France and one to Wyoming.  I had vastly different experiences on each trip.  In France I immersed myself in history, beautiful architecture and delicious food.  In Wyoming, I stood in streams in the middle of gorgeous countryside, listening to the sounds of running water, birds, and the occasional whoop of delight as my son or I caught a fish.

Both adventures were so different from my every day life that it felt I'd left it all behind.  I'd escaped to a new reality for a bit.

The word escape has an interesting etymology.  It stems from Medieval French and Latin words meaning "out of the cape".  A theory is that the word references how Romans might slip off their capes to avoid capture.

From there it's not hard to imagine that "escape" came to mean "getting away".  And it isn't simply a physical act.  A sigh of relief can escape our lips or we can try to escape a memory. Escape can be used as a noun, as in a daring prisoner escape or, according to one source, a cultivated plant run wild is called an escape.

I'd like us all to explore the word "escape". Will you show how you escape on vacation or by reading?  How the escape velocity enables rockets to push beyond the Earth's gravity?  How refugees escape the ravages of war?

How will you show "escape"?

Photo by Vivien Zepf

Monday, September 30, 2013


Do you know that moment when you hold your breath, wondering what will come next?  Or when you ask yourself, Can I .... ?  Or, when you hope .....

That pause, filled with possibilities and bursting with energy, is what I wanted to convey with my piece; the anticipation that's experienced in the silence before something comes into being or happens.

The yellow color palette is a nod to the phrase, Silence is golden.  I wanted to create a feeling of multiple possibilities, hence all the different shapes bubbling to the surface.  I used all manner of materials including commercial cottons, hand painted fabrics, and paper towels that were tinted with watercolors.

Sound of Silence - The Rain Has Finally Stopped

My first thought for this challenge was to try to capture the moment when the rain finally stops after the annual monsoon. Some years here in Koh Samui it can be fairly light but some years it can be really heavy, raining constantly for weeks on end. The sound of the rain day in, day out can start to send you a bit crazy. Then, one day, out of the blue, it just stops. For me, this is my sound of silence. The silence is deafening and it takes a little while to adjust to the new state.

I also wanted to try a nature based piece and the idea of zooming right into the subject really appeals to me.

The leaves and background are made up of commercial fabric fused appliqué and I used my own hand dyed fabric for the leaf veins. As I am trying to incorporate new techniques into every challenge piece, I tried my hand at thread painting for the shading on the leaves and veins and free motion stippling inside the leaves. I loved both techniques and look forward to doing more.

To try to capture the moment it stops raining, I used double thickness black tulle onto which I stitched raindrops – straight stitch then satin stitch to make the drops. I placed this over half of the piece. On the other half of the piece, I stitched silver thread to try to emulate water dribbling down the leaf vein with a large drop dangling from the leaf point. I am not sure if I succeeded or not, but I had a great time making this piece.

I used a facing to bind the quilt but I had a few issues as the tulle and the stabilizer used for the heavy embroidery caused the edges to be quite thick and difficult to bind.

Materials Used: 100% commercial cotton from Big Horn Quilts, hand dyed cotton, Madeira rayon thread, silver metallic thread, black tulle.

Amanda Sievers


I could not find the idea for this challenge for a long time. I've started from thinking when we meet silence:
  • When baby is sleeping;
  • When it is snowing in the forest;
  • When leaves are falling in the autumn;
  • In early morning, when birds are still sleeping…
 No any visual idea… So I decided to leave it for a while.

One day when I've been putting my fabric stash to order, I saw a little piece of fabric which I had painted few years ago. “Wow! It is exactly what I need!” - was my shout. MOUNTAINS!

I live very close to the mountains and go hiking often. When you get there really high where there are no trees and birds you can feel this sound of silence. So the idea was found!

I quilted this little piece of fabric. It looks exactly as the lake that is situated at 3000 m above the sea level and 40 min drive from our house.

I choose dark blue background as night sky at the mountains and this kind of quilting as an air flowing. If you ever been high at the mountains you understand what I’m talking about.

Creative Silence


This has been a hard quilt to complete. So many ideas were discarded as problematic.  It came together in a week by combining two elements:  reading, for me a solitary and quiet pursuit and taking pictures of buildings on a recent trip. The church that the window is based on was closed and silent as I walked past but the walls were full of rich detail and from the notices it has a vibrant life at other times.
In keeping with the theme “Sounds of Silence” I tried some hand work: Hand appliqué ( not such a silent pastime as the little pieces kept wriggling around in spite of the liberal use of pins and rulers), hand embroidery and hand quilting. I did use some machine work but aimed to keep the machine quilting “quiet” and understated. The book pages came from two books I have had for many years, rereading them until they are falling to bits. These were scanned and printed onto fabric using Bubble Jet 2000. Other techniques: Raw edge appliqué using Bond a Web, piecing and embroidery with perlé cotton