Painting with Fabric, Part 1

This Chilean flamingo appeared on our beach.  They are a rare sight this far north.  In seven years we’ve seen three at separate times on our beach.  A few months ago we saw a flock of about thirty flying south!  No kidding…  it was amazing!  The pink coloring was florescent.

Back to the quilting….. Commitment.  At some point in this process, I have to make the commitment to begin production.  So far the work has been in designing and planning; much of it in my mind, some of it digitally or on paper.  I can abandon the project now and not be out anything but time and mind energy.   There is loads to be learned in the designing and planning.  Once I start cutting into fabric….  well, then, I am consuming resources.  And I am stingy with my supplies; I hate to waste anything.  It is at this point I have to be happy with the design before moving forward.  There’s still a lot of work to be done and I will be spending many hours with it.  If I’m not liking it or not satisfied, I know it will end up being put aside for some other project which interests me more.  It is knowing this which keeps projects percolating in my mind for so long.

So, now that the commitment has been made, I’ll begin “painting.”  Each piece is outlined on the mylar and is labeled with a number corresponding to a color.  As this will be complicated, I chose to work on one part at a time starting with a finger.  I use a double sided fusible web to position my pieces.  I flip the mylar over so the pattern is reversed and trace each individual piece onto the fusible web leaving a small space between each piece.  I will label each tracing by number.  Each piece is cut from the web and then ironed onto the wrong side of the corresponding fabric.  Then I’ll cut the fabric around the web so I have extra fabric all around the shape.

At this point, I need to make some decisions and this is where it gets complicated.  Pieces will have to be layered over one another so there won’t be any gaps between them when placed on the quilt.   For this finger, I decided to layer the darker colors under the lighter ones.  This isn’t always a good idea as darker colors underneath can dull lighter ones on top.  In this case, the colors are graduated and the adjoining colors shouldn’t have too much of a contrast.  I’m hoping this progression will provide some depth; bringing the tip of the finger forward.  I next mark each piece with double-hatch marks to show where it will be going under the adjoining  piece.


I also need to decide whether there are places where pieces might be combined and smaller pieces placed on top.  You can see where I did this in the photo by looking at the fingernail.  The medium brown and khaki pieces go under the nail.

I started with the dark maroon and I cut the piece out  leaving a quarter inch allowance where it will be layered.  I do this with each successive piece as I work.  (I don’t always anticipate the layering correctly.)   By removing the backing paper from the web only along where pieces overlap, I can then iron each piece in place.  I lay the mylar pattern over the fabric pieces to place them correctly.  The remaining backing paper will be removed when I am ready to place it on the foundation fabric.


You can see the tip of the finger in white and the nail swooping down to the left.  It doesn’t look like much yet, but it will all come together.  I can say this now as I’ve worked beyond this point and know.  At the time, I wasn’t so sure.  I actually sent my son this picture asking him if it looked familiar….  it is his finger after all.

He responded with, “What am I looking at?”  Quilting from a photograph is not for the faint of heart!


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