Over the past few weeks I have gotten out of the habit of writing my weekly blog — for the best of reasons. I had gone quilting. And what a fine time I had at the South African National Quilt Festival. It certainly fulfilled its theme of “interchange and threads connect”. Many ideas were exchanged at the classes and lectures. Then, during the evenings, we stitched together at impromptu meetings over tea.
This week I write about the Fabric Journal class I did with South African teacher, Sue Cameron. I cannot sing her praises highly enough. She is a ray of sunshine and a dedicated teacher. During the two day class she showed us how to make five textile pages, and in the making of each one we learnt new techniques and tricks. It was possible to get through a great deal of stitching because she had made up comprehensive kits for each of the pages.
Part of the fun was opening up the packet containing the kit for each of the pages and admiring the delights. The fabrics were cut to size, the beads and other bits in small bags, the cords, braid and wool neatly twined, etc. Then the sewing machines started to hum as we stitched and constructed the backgrounds for each of the pages. When I got home I could easily complete each page because of Sue’s comprehensive instructions, complete with photographs of her pages. In the introduction to the notes she warns that fabric journal are addictive. And I found it to be so. I could not stop stitching until all the pages were done.
Sue writes: “Fabric journals are a wonderful way to play with techniques and designs on a small scale, without the pressure of spending time and money on a large quilt.” The key word is “play”. The making of the fabric journal pages has brought fun, excitement and delight.
The final page during the course was to create a background using an orphan block. This involved cutting up the block and rearranging it. Our kits contained blocks that Sue had made especially for the class. I stood with my rotary cutter hovering over the Dutchman’s Puzzle Block, with its perfectly matched corners, and tried to psyche myself into slicing through it in a curve. I just could not do it. So, with some prompting from a good friend, I decided to use the block on the cover of the journal instead.
And here is a photograph of the page that I made, using the slicing and inserting technique to create the eye-shaped piece in the centre. As you can see, I got onto a roll when it came to adding gold cords and silk braids from my stash.
The first page we constructed was more a more sedate seascape. It was also a lot of fun to make and involved joining the strips to create the sand and sea, crocheting woolen braids to make waves, needle punching chiffon for the sand, adding tea-dyed gauze, couching various braids and yarn and adding beads.
The page with a chenille background (again Sue Cameron and prepared the chenille piece, we just had fluff up the cut edges) also involved making fabric beads, Suffolk puffs, felting and cording. This one took a while to make. Here’s the finished page:
My favourite page depicts a tree. Again, Sue had fused the leaves and pre-cut the strips of beautiful patterned green and brown fabrics. The kit contained little balls of wool for the making of the tree trunk and a strip of brown fabric cut across the grain to make a nice bendy branch for the leaves.
There was a page with a log cabin background with many added extras. The prairie points, tubes, and a bit of “corsetry” in a laced detail had to be inserted in the seams. This took a bit of planning and Sue talked us through the process patiently and carefully. Other methods used were couching and decorative stitching.
To end, here is another of my favourite pages. Sue called it the twirling triangles background, and you can see why. But before we got to stitching down the triangles, a lot happened. First we wove strips of organza with the natural fabrics hessian and silk. Then we set a heat gun loose on the piece and the organza melted into interesting patterns while the natural fibres stayed intact. Then we painted over the woven, partially burnt background with gold fabric paint. The orange circle is appliqued onto the finished background and was was made of felted chiffon. The central detail is silk cord wound into a spiral. The beads were sewn on by hand.
Unlike C.S. Lewis, I was not surprised by joy during Sue Cameron’s Fabric Journal class. Having done a class with her at a previous quilt festival (see https://marissthequilter.wordpress.com/2018/02/23/post-6-on-textiles-and-texture/ ) I knew that I had signed up for two days of joyful fun, and was not disappointed.