Friday, May 26, 2017

In (and Out of) the Water

This week the seascape digital panel (see last post) is on the machine.  (Click on any photo to enlarge.)

The water is being quilted with Sulky's holographic thread, giving it just the right amount of sparkle. I love this thread, which comes in several colors, and never seems to break as long as low tension, low-to-moderate speed, and a fine (lightweight) bobbin thread are used.

Wanting a break from increasingly dense stitching, I opted to try something that's been stewing in my head for a while: rendering a color-pencil drawing in fabric.

This is my working color copy, which had to be pieced and taped.
The original was a little too big for the scanner.

This started out as a "scribble drawing," if anyone remembers those from school decades ago (do kids still do that?), and it evolved into an abstract drawing titled "Fish out of Water."

For anyone too young to be familiar with the phrase "Fish out of Water," it refers to someone who is completely out of his/her element or comfort zone. (As you can see, this fish is out of its element in more ways than just being landlocked.)

Step 1 was to copy the drawing (in black and white) in poster format on the printer, 2 sheets x 2 sheets, and splice them on the back with transparent tape (first trimming some margins and overlapping others to match up the fronts).

[The drawing board is like a big clipboard, available at any art supply store.]

Step 2, using large tracing paper--which conveniently comes on a roll--or regular tracing paper taped together, to trace the drawing's outlines with a black Sharpie.

Step 3, retracing the outlines from the tracing paper (the black-and-white printer copy is removed but kept for reference) onto freezer paper, and then cutting out the separate sections of freezer paper to use as pattern pieces.

Step 4, carbon tracing the outlines--yes, more tracing!--onto a base fabric (in this case, buckram--a canvas-like fabric used to stiffen drapery headers).

Step 5, retracing the outlines on a piece of clear vinyl (see next photo).

[At this point you might be wondering, why so much tracing? Well, if you don't have a light box large enough or a glass-top table under which to put a light, and you're not willing to tape things up on a back-lit glass door to trace vertically, extra tracing is what you wind up doing. The thing is, I don't mind it that much--it's kind of relaxing.]

Step 6, positioning the base fabric (again, buckram here) as the bottom layer (I use the clips at the top as well as pieces of masking tape all around).

Step 7, matching the outlines on the vinyl overlay to the outlines on the base fabric, and then firmly clipping or taping down the top edge only of the vinyl. (Fabric pieces will be slipped in under the vinyl and positioned on top of the base.)

Step 8, choosing fabrics and cutting out the pieces by using the freezer paper patterns (ironed with the plastic/shiny side down onto the right side of the fabric). The fabrics can first be stabilized with paper-backed fusible web or fusible interfacing on the wrong side---or they can just be glued down directly on the base. (For curved pieces, I strongly suggest stabilizing, as the pieces may otherwise stretch and pucker when glued.) Of course, if paper-backed fusible web is used, the pieces will eventually be iron-fused to the base instead of glued.

To avoid gaps, a bit of a "seam allowance" needs to be cut outside the pattern lines wherever another piece is going to overlap (note: pieces are glued down beginning with the furthest in the scene and ending with the nearest, and trimmed or overlapped accordingly). I cut these "seam allowances" with pinking shears to avoid a hard line from showing through the overlap.

Unfortunately, though, once those "seam allowances" are glued/stuck down, they hide parts of the carbon-traced lines. That is why the traced lines on the vinyl overlay are necessary. It is the only way to assure accuracy in positioning the fabric pieces after some of the base lines get hidden.

Overall, the process is less time-consuming than it sounds. It probably took me longer to write about it than it does to do it. :)

Next time I hope to have all the pieces tacked down with mono-poly thread, and the seascape fully quilted.

Have a great weekend!


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