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On the studio wall

Look at this, posting here twice in a week!

Here’s a look at what’s on the pinboard today…

The mosaic stars are still there and they are gradually being joined by a family of stitched skulls. I’ve been experimenting with digitising one of my drawings to create a stitch file that’ll be incorporated in some new work that I’m thinking about.

If you have used embroidery software you’ll know that there’s never one way to do anything. Different methods work for different source files, embroidery styles and outcomes. Even though I’ve used digital stitch in my work for a while now, there’s still always lots to learn and a certain amount of trial and error and experimentation to explore the potential of what can be achieved.

For those of you who are interested, I’m using MySewnet software and stitching the samples out on a Husqvarna Viking Epic.

I’ve always got a number of projects on the go at any one time, and I know it’s a bit odd to have these skulls pinned up amongst the stars, but don’t you quite like the combination? I like it when that happens – things that you’re working on separately come together in a messy array on the worktable or by chance on the pinboard.

There are four of these stitched skulls so far. Each one has been tackled in a different way in the software and given different results. All with pros and cons of course. Here you can see one of them stitching out on my machine. Please excuse the lighting on these photos, it’s November and a very gloomy day!

There are four of these skulls so far and this latest one is by far my favourite. It’s got the closest feel to the original drawing in terms of the mark making. Below you can see the original drawing and a close up of the stitched version.

It’s worked onto a scrap of vintage hand quilted quilt that I bought off eBay for another piece. I only have a little bit of this left so I’m really delighted that it’s turned out OK and I might be able to use it for something.

So, many, many hours of stitching this week, but I do feel as though I’m beginning to know where I’m going with this and how best to get there in terms of the techniques.

Thank you for visiting today. Talk to you again soon,

Laura

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Festival of Quilts – Talk and Discount Code

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On the studio wall

It’s been too long since my last post here. I thought this week I either have to update the blog more often or delete it. I post quite frequently on Instagram, you can find me there if you like, but sometimes those little images and captions feel a bit limiting, so here I am giving the blog another chance.

So, what’s on the wall this week? I’ve been hand stitching stars over papers. I’m using English paper piecing which is my favourite method for patchwork. If you’ve not tried it please do have a look at my free workshop over on DesignMatters. It’s called Introduction to English Paper Piecing and guides you through the technique. It’s just perfect when you want a portable project and ideal for scrap quilts like this one.

You might have noticed they are set out in four groups. That’s because I’m not making a quilt this time, but two pairs of curtains. Bonkers I know, these are 1″ diamonds! I would love for the entire curtains to be pieced but practically I think it’ll mostly likely end up being a set of plain curtains with pieced borders to the leading edges. I hope that’ll look really good. I’m trying to work across all four sections at once so they have a good spread of colours and some of the same fabrics appearing in each section so they look like a matching set.

I’m burning through loads and loads of scraps. The good thing about using one inch diamonds is that you can cut a piece from the most tiny offcut of fabric. Each star is bordered with black fabrics again from the scrap pile. The blacks, even though they are different, still give the whole thing a unified background.

There’s a long way to go with this project, but no time limit, so it’s just something that I’ll keep working on in the background whenever I have a free moment.

Thank you for visiting today. Talk to you again soon,

Laura

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More Sketchbook

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Sketchbook progress

Take a look at some of my work in progress sketchbook pages.

Studio Session – January 2024

Have a look at some of the work being made by the students on my regular Studio Session in-person classes.

Marbled Papers

Take a look at the loose papers I marbled recently.

Marbling in my sketchbook

Experimenting with marbling on paper direct into my sketchbooks.

TED Talk inspiration

Thoughts on art, education and an inspiring TED talk.

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Magdalena Abakanowicz at the Tate

Visiting Magdalena Abakanowicz at the Tate Modern

After Impressionism at the National Gallery

A look at some of my favourite works from the After Impressionism exhibition at The National Gallery.

Festival of Quilts – Talk and Discount Code

I’m giving a talk at Festival of Quilts this summer. Find out more and use my discount code for tickets.

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Finished! In the Quiet of the Long Night

Here is my most recent quilt, finally completed. It’s called In the Quiet of the Long Night and is a wholecloth with appliqué, handwritten text and machine quilting.

It’s been a while since I did so much freehand machine quilting. As you might know, I have been experimenting with digital quilting recently, but for something like this, freehand is still the best option. I’m pleased with how the density of stitch has meant that the thread colour has modified the appearance of the white fabric quite considerably. I’ve used Madeira threads for the most part. I’m sponsored by Madeira and am happy to report that the threads have worked beautifully in this piece. I’ve been favouring their Aeroquilt range, but I also used some of their neon threads in this and I love the pop of very bright colour.

I’ve done a few articles and workshops over on DesignMatters TV that relate to this quilt. I hope you might enjoy checking them out, just click on the images below to head over to each item.

Easy Batik Fabrics

Squaring up a Quilt

Fineliner Quilting

Bonded Applique

How to Bind a Quilt

Thank you for taking a look at the articles and workshops. I really hope you found them inspirational and informative. Talk to you again soon,

Laura

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Sketchbook progress

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Studio Session – January 2024

Have a look at some of the work being made by the students on my regular Studio Session in-person classes.

Marbled Papers

Take a look at the loose papers I marbled recently.

Marbling in my sketchbook

Experimenting with marbling on paper direct into my sketchbooks.

TED Talk inspiration

Thoughts on art, education and an inspiring TED talk.

Familiar Finished

Finished photos of The Girl with the Eagle aka Familiar.

Magdalena Abakanowicz at the Tate

Visiting Magdalena Abakanowicz at the Tate Modern

After Impressionism at the National Gallery

A look at some of my favourite works from the After Impressionism exhibition at The National Gallery.

Festival of Quilts – Talk and Discount Code

I’m giving a talk at Festival of Quilts this summer. Find out more and use my discount code for tickets.

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Quilt in Progress

Yes, it’s been a while. Instagram makes for a lazy blogger. So easy to just click a photo and post with a caption! Do follow me there if you enjoy more frequent updates.

I decided it was high time I completed the pieces that have been pinned on my workroom wall so this quilt has been back under the needle this week. There is a lot of very close quilting still to do. I guess that’s why I’ve been putting it off!

Story so far, it’s a wholecloth, the poppy seedheads are bonded appliqué cut from a fabric that I handpainted. The text in the circle is handwritten in ink. All the quilting is freehand machine quilting. I felt it needed an injection of colour around that text so I’ve quilted it using some Frosted Matt neon thread from Madeira. I am sponsored by Madeira and they kindly send me a selection of threads to play with and these were in my last delivery. Pretty bright huh? I really love the colours. They look really bold on the spool but of course when you’re quilting with them, there’s just a single fine line of that colour so it’s much more subtle than you’d think. Selecting colours for quilting is often one of those times where you need to be darker, lighter, brighter, wilder than you first think.

In the photos above you can see the area that I’ve been working on and how the quilting starts to control the fullness of the fabric. I’ve outlined the text with the neon thread, I’ll snip the jump stitches later.

With the outline stitching done, I felt that it was necessary to flatten the background down to really make the lettering pop in relief. It’s all about contrast with quilting and so the background scale needed to be smaller than the lettering so it melted into the background. That meant lots of tiny stippling was required. I stitched white on white to be as discreet as possible, this is all about texture and surface rather than line.

There’s no doubt that this quilting is a lot of work, but I think it’s worth the effort.

Next up, I have to finish the background area that surrounds the circle and goes behind the poppy stems. I’ve closely quilted some of this already using a simple ladder line fill. I’ve used a navy thread and because it’s so closely spaced it really affects the colour we perceive that area to be. Just look at the difference between the quilted and unquilted areas.

So back to the sewing machine, talk again soon!

Laura

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More Sketchbook

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Sketchbook progress

Take a look at some of my work in progress sketchbook pages.

Studio Session – January 2024

Have a look at some of the work being made by the students on my regular Studio Session in-person classes.

Marbled Papers

Take a look at the loose papers I marbled recently.

Marbling in my sketchbook

Experimenting with marbling on paper direct into my sketchbooks.

TED Talk inspiration

Thoughts on art, education and an inspiring TED talk.

Familiar Finished

Finished photos of The Girl with the Eagle aka Familiar.

Magdalena Abakanowicz at the Tate

Visiting Magdalena Abakanowicz at the Tate Modern

After Impressionism at the National Gallery

A look at some of my favourite works from the After Impressionism exhibition at The National Gallery.

Festival of Quilts – Talk and Discount Code

I’m giving a talk at Festival of Quilts this summer. Find out more and use my discount code for tickets.

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Studio update

Hello again. Just a quick round up today of what I’ve been working on. First up, there’s been quite a bit of dressmaking going on. I don’t know if it’s the change of season and accompanying drop in temperatures, or the need to deal with the huge heap of fabric that’s in my workroom, but I’ve been feeling the need to sew lots of new clothes. Amelie is so easy to make for, well except for the fact that she’s growing like a weed and anything I do make doesn’t seem to last for long before it gets passed down. She needed a new coat and I couldn’t resist using a faux fur remnant I picked up at Abakhan in Shrewsbury. I knew there would be suitable patterns in the Ottobre books I love and sure enough, she picked out one she liked with a hood for extra cosiness!

I made harder work of it than I should have done, but in the end it went together nicely. I don’t find sewing with fur to be particularly tricky, the only thing to note really is that it gets everywhere. A vacuum is most definitely the key bit of equipment you’ll need! And one of those sticky rollers to gather up any stray bits. The pattern called for patch pockets, but with this longer pile fur I thought that inseam ones would work better so I drafted a little pocket bag and added that to the lining.

The lining is a single jersey which makes it cosy, but we picked it out purely because the colour went nicely with the fur. It closes with press studs and I found this jumbo ones in an antique brass finish on eBay. Really pleased with those. Needless to say it’s her new favourite thing and she’s been wearing it inside and out!

Next I sewed myself a hooded sweater. Pretty quick to make. I went up a size on the pattern to make it oversized and knowing that I want to wear it over other layers. Spent most of the time just going over it with the sticky roller to pick up the bits of fur that were still appearing everywhere after making the coat. Fabric is a soft, drapey knit which might have some viscose in it, but I can’t be sure. Again I think it was from Abakhan.

I used ribbon to cover the seams of the inside hood and inside back neckline which finishes it off neatly as it’s unlined. I’ve not made this pattern before, but I’m sure I’ll do it again when I have other suitable fabric as I’ve already worn it a few times. It has patch pockets with can be tricky to sew in soft fabrics as the foot can drag and distort the garment. I’ve done a little tutorial on how to avoid this which you can find over on the DesignMatters Art & Craft School website.

It’s not all been sewing. In the evenings I’ve been trying to do a little drawing. Spurred on by the return of Portrait Artist of the Year on tv, I’ve been drawing faces again. Well, trying not to draw faces really, but heads. Trying to find some volume rather than being caught up in the features. These are graphite pencil in a little 5″ x 5″ sketchbook.

Likeness is always the tricky thing with portraits. I wonder what matters more, likeness or a ‘good’ drawing? Or whether those two things are inextricably linked or quite separate? One of these had a better likeness, the other, I think, is a stronger drawing. Obviously I need to work on having both of these things happening at the same time in the same drawing. Practice, practice, practice!

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading.
Laura

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More Sketchbook

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Sketchbook progress

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Studio Session – January 2024

Have a look at some of the work being made by the students on my regular Studio Session in-person classes.

Marbled Papers

Take a look at the loose papers I marbled recently.

Marbling in my sketchbook

Experimenting with marbling on paper direct into my sketchbooks.

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Finished photos of The Girl with the Eagle aka Familiar.

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Festival of Quilts – Talk and Discount Code

I’m giving a talk at Festival of Quilts this summer. Find out more and use my discount code for tickets.

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Flying Geese Quilt

Welcome back to the studio blog. I find this time of year to always be quite productive. Right now I’ve got a number of projects underway. This quilt has been one that’s received some time and attention this week.

I’ve used a combination of fabrics that I showed you recently – the Hawaiian inspired/snowflake patterns and the acrylic paint pour designs. They had a similar colour palette and seemed to work pretty well together.

I started making some half-square triangles with some white fabrics and placed them in a ‘flying geese’ arrangement.

Then I built out from that central section adding frames on all four sides, still using half-square triangles, but in different arrangements. I also stopped using the white and mixed in some hand dyes.

As I work, I keep throwing the quilt down on the floor so I can keep an eye on how it’s shaping up. At this point I almost thought it was done, but that central section with the white looked quite isolated. With hindsight, ah the magic of hindsight, I would have inserted a narrow white border in there somewhere, but it was too late for that.

Instead I made some more half-square triangles and the apprentice helped me lay them out as one final narrow saw-tooth border. I think that extra white right to the edge really helped with balance.

I had to sneak and scrape through my fabrics to get enough together for this extra border, but that was so satisfying! I recently read an interview with David Attenborough and he was reminding us all that the most important thing we can do is to limit our waste. Patchwork and quilting was once a thrift craft, but it isn’t anymore is it?  I did my bit by eeking out those last few bits and I chopped up all the remains into standard sizes, either 4″ squares or 1.5″ strips. They’ll come in useful for either more piecing, or the strips will be great for binding. Only tiny slivers went into the bin.

Next job with this will be to start the quilting. See you next time.

Love
Laura
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More Sketchbook

A look at some recent pages in my small sketchbook.

Sketchbook progress

Take a look at some of my work in progress sketchbook pages.

Studio Session – January 2024

Have a look at some of the work being made by the students on my regular Studio Session in-person classes.

Marbled Papers

Take a look at the loose papers I marbled recently.

Marbling in my sketchbook

Experimenting with marbling on paper direct into my sketchbooks.

TED Talk inspiration

Thoughts on art, education and an inspiring TED talk.

Familiar Finished

Finished photos of The Girl with the Eagle aka Familiar.

Magdalena Abakanowicz at the Tate

Visiting Magdalena Abakanowicz at the Tate Modern

After Impressionism at the National Gallery

A look at some of my favourite works from the After Impressionism exhibition at The National Gallery.

Festival of Quilts – Talk and Discount Code

I’m giving a talk at Festival of Quilts this summer. Find out more and use my discount code for tickets.

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Inspired by Hawaiian Appliqué

Really trying to get into the habit of blogging again. It’s been a while since I posted a regular blog, what with that instant gratification of the ‘Gram and all. I do love that format, but it’s nice to have a bit more space to tell the story don’t you think? Anyway, no promises that I’ll keep this up, but let’s see.

For DesignMatters TV, I’m always trying to come up with new ideas, projects and processes that we can feature in workshop videos. It’s at times quite distracting, but on the flip-side it can be the catalyst that drives work in a new direction. I’ve certainly done lots of things that wouldn’t have happened otherwise, and I’m finding that I’m getting better at letting those diverse pathways fit in with my main strand of work.

Recently we’ve been asked for videos using the iPad as a design tool for quilt makers. I love working on my iPad and was happy to oblige. I like to work on Procreate which is a drawing and painting app with lots of capability. In the workshop Inspired by Hawaiian Appliqué I showed how you can use the tools in the app to draw a beautiful ‘snowflake’ type design and then fill it with colour, or image of your choice. It’s a neat little process with potential way beyond Hawaiian style patterns. If you’d like to see the class it’s available on the website

I made three versions of my favourite design…

I love working digitally, but for me it’s always important to get things off the screen and into the hand, whether that’s work on paper or fabric. For these Hawaiian style designs I wanted to print them on fabric to make some cheat’s appliqué.

Here’s the first test prints coming off the printer. Please excuse the weird lighting in these photos. Lots of work happens here after dark!

One of the best things about working digitally is how quick it is to play with scale. Without too much effort at all, you can try out a design really big, or repeat it on a teeny scale. As you can see that’s what I’m trying here.

I suppose it’s got a lot to do with the scale, but the small ones look like Spanish or Portuguese tiles to me.

I printed a few metres of these test prints so I had enough to feel comfortable with chopping some up and experimenting. I’ve used them in a couple of projects which are still work in progress but I’ll show you how they’re coming along next time.

Talk soon,
Laura
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More Sketchbook

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Sketchbook progress

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Studio Session – January 2024

Have a look at some of the work being made by the students on my regular Studio Session in-person classes.

Marbled Papers

Take a look at the loose papers I marbled recently.

Marbling in my sketchbook

Experimenting with marbling on paper direct into my sketchbooks.

TED Talk inspiration

Thoughts on art, education and an inspiring TED talk.

Familiar Finished

Finished photos of The Girl with the Eagle aka Familiar.

Magdalena Abakanowicz at the Tate

Visiting Magdalena Abakanowicz at the Tate Modern

After Impressionism at the National Gallery

A look at some of my favourite works from the After Impressionism exhibition at The National Gallery.

Festival of Quilts – Talk and Discount Code

I’m giving a talk at Festival of Quilts this summer. Find out more and use my discount code for tickets.

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Paint Poured Fabrics

Hey everyone! You might already know that for my day job, I create online video workshops over at DesignMatters Art & Craft School. Recently we had a great time pouring acrylic paints all over canvasses and boards to create amazing effects.

If you’ve not tried this  before do consider checking it out. I’d hesitated thinking, it was a bit of a novelty process, but it looked so fun I gave in and mixed the paints! Turns out it’s pretty compulsive; a bit like fabric dyeing, you want to see what just one more colour combination will look like. The online workshop is available to watch over at DesignMatters.

Pretty soon every surface was covered with wet canvasses and boards, especially as I had the apprentice joining in.

We were really excited by the results. The paint moves as it flows and as it dries meaning the effects change right before you eyes. As I worked I took loads of photos, trying to capture each painting at that perfect moment.

When we do drawing and painting techniques over on DesignMatters, we are often asked if the same media and process will work on fabric too. Well, with this, if you think about it, canvas is fabric, so yes, you’re working on fabric already. The question really should be, “can you do this on fabric in such a way that the fabric retains its drape and is pleasant to stitch into?”

The paint pouring process leaves quite a thickish layer of paint on the surface and for me personally, that’s not something that I’d want to stitch through. The obvious answer is to pour the paint on canvas or board, photograph it and then print those photos to fabric digitally. That provides the added benefit that you can manipulate the photos before you print: crop them, enlarge, alter the colour, modify the contrast, etc..

I started by taking a couple of my favourite photos and enlarging them. The paint pouring creates such intricate patterns that I think there’s plenty of scope for making them bigger so you can really see and enjoy what’s going on. I played with the colour a little, cropped out the choicest bits and made some test prints onto a quilting weight cotton fabric.

These are printed with reactive dyes so the fabric stays super soft. You get the effect of the paint poured visual texture, all the fabulous marks, swirls and spots, but not of the plasticy surface that the real paint has. Got to be best of both worlds!

I’ve enjoyed working with these test prints (I have some projects in the works which I’ll show you soon) and I think they would make a really nice collection for the website. What do you think? Would you be interested in them?

Talk soon,

Laura
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More Sketchbook

A look at some recent pages in my small sketchbook.

Sketchbook progress

Take a look at some of my work in progress sketchbook pages.

Studio Session – January 2024

Have a look at some of the work being made by the students on my regular Studio Session in-person classes.

Marbled Papers

Take a look at the loose papers I marbled recently.

Marbling in my sketchbook

Experimenting with marbling on paper direct into my sketchbooks.

TED Talk inspiration

Thoughts on art, education and an inspiring TED talk.

Familiar Finished

Finished photos of The Girl with the Eagle aka Familiar.

Magdalena Abakanowicz at the Tate

Visiting Magdalena Abakanowicz at the Tate Modern

After Impressionism at the National Gallery

A look at some of my favourite works from the After Impressionism exhibition at The National Gallery.

Festival of Quilts – Talk and Discount Code

I’m giving a talk at Festival of Quilts this summer. Find out more and use my discount code for tickets.

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Welcome to my new website

Hello and welcome to my new website. I’ve brought together my blog, portfolio site and Fingerprint fabric shop together all in one place, so you might have found yourself here for different reasons and via different routes! I hope you’ll find something interesting and inspiring and will check back often to find what’s new. Thanks so much for your interest in my work.

Laura
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More Sketchbook

A look at some recent pages in my small sketchbook.

Sketchbook progress

Take a look at some of my work in progress sketchbook pages.

Studio Session – January 2024

Have a look at some of the work being made by the students on my regular Studio Session in-person classes.

Marbled Papers

Take a look at the loose papers I marbled recently.

Marbling in my sketchbook

Experimenting with marbling on paper direct into my sketchbooks.

TED Talk inspiration

Thoughts on art, education and an inspiring TED talk.

Familiar Finished

Finished photos of The Girl with the Eagle aka Familiar.

Magdalena Abakanowicz at the Tate

Visiting Magdalena Abakanowicz at the Tate Modern

After Impressionism at the National Gallery

A look at some of my favourite works from the After Impressionism exhibition at The National Gallery.

Festival of Quilts – Talk and Discount Code

I’m giving a talk at Festival of Quilts this summer. Find out more and use my discount code for tickets.