12 April 2011

Hero emerges

I've made up another new name. I'm calling this series of quilts I'm working on stencil quilts. My process involves drawing a stencil shape (think of spray painting a shape through a paper cutout), layering two contrasting quilt tops together, sewing the the layers together along the stencil outlines, then cutting the top layer to reveal the bottom layer within the stencil, with a raw-edged applique finish.

I used this technique before on my Marquis quilt back using white and natural muslin. Now I'm doing it on a larger scale using pieced foreground and background layers. To sew the layers together I draw the design on thin tracing paper (available on rolls at art supply stores), then baste the layers together. From the bottom layer:
  1. Neutral/background layer, right side down
  2. Contrast/stencil layer, right side down
  3. Tracing paper
Here I've also inserted a layer of muslin between the neutral and pink layers because the pink was showing through the top. It's hard to see in the photo, but even with a generous margin of pink all around the drawing (or so I thought), the lines just barely fit in a couple places -- notably the tail and front hoof. I pin-basted the layers together, then free-motion stitched around the drawing.

Next I peeled off the paper (still more peeling to do) and trimmed around the outer stitches.

I sewed the layers upside down for two reasons. First, it's much easier to align the tracing-paper drawing with the pink fabric when they are directly next to each other. For that matter, it was also easier to align the seams on the neutral and pink layers -- though the scale and geometry of the two piecing patters is completely different, they both have strong horizontal elements and I didn't want the triangle rows askew. Second, no matter how hard I try to peel every last bit of paper, some tiny bits inevitably get caught in the stencil seams. I've gone back and forth on how diligent I have to be on paper removal, but it's nice to know I don't have to worry about the tiniest scraps.

And now for the scary part: flipping it over and cutting through the top layer (see first picture above)! I left about and eighth of an inch raw edge around the seams. When washed the edge with fray and curl back to reveal more pink beneath, especially in the narrow strips along the tail, mane and horn.

When it comes time to quilt the finished blanket I'll start by free-motion quilting along the stencil lines again, this time through the batting and backing as well. Then maybe concentric echo lines around the whole beast for an effect like this, though not so closely spaced.


  1. I'm not sure I totally understand how you did this but the finished quilts are amazing!

  2. I'm with Mama Spark but it is so fascinating! I guess I will have to try it on a smaller, much smaller scale!

  3. Thanks for the explanations! Ilove to give this technique a try ... some day:)
    Your quilts are wonderful and surely a piece of art!