According to a friend of mine, New England has seen a preponderance of hummingbirds this summer. I’ve also read that Monarch butterflies–whose population had been diminishing–are on the rise again.
This makes me happy. I don’t think there are many more beautiful sights than these winged creatures flitting about the garden.
Birds, especially, are a favorite subject in my quilt art. Judging by the number of bird-, butterfly-, and flower garden-themed art and landscape quilts I see, many quilting artists share my fascination.
In my work, I like to create small fabric collages that accurately depict the species and their surroundings. I’ve used snippets of fabric, stitching, colored pencil, paper, and millinery flowers to create my pieces. But I’m always looking for new techniques for creating realism and dimension.
Enter Joan Shay of Petal Play Designs. I was already familiar with her creative quilting techniques using heat, fusible web, and appliqué to add dimension. But when she appeared on “Quilting Arts TV” series 1600, I got to watch her in action.
Joan prepares the fabrics she wants to use for creating dimension with HeatnBond® Ultra Hold Iron-on Adhesive®, fusing to the back of one fabric first with a hot iron, then fusing another fabric to the back. You can adjust the look of the leaves or petals you’re creating by using a contrasting or complementary fabric on the back.
Once you’ve fused your fabric, you can cut out shapes using a pair of sharp scissors or cutting machine, and the edges won’t fray. Joan uses this technique on the leaves, flowers, and butterflies on the “Monarch Butterflies at Play” quilt shown here. Each flower blossom has 27-28 petals.
To create the dimension, Joan curls each petal before attaching it to the background. To do this, she heats them with an iron and curls each petal around the eraser end of a pencil. When the fabric is cool, the curling stays in place. You can also shape fabric cutouts like leaves, wings, etc., by pinching it into the shape you want and holding until it cools.
If you have a lot of petals, leaves, or wings on your quilt, this process can take time. But it is so worth the effort as the fabric shapes seem to come alive on the quilt surface.
Joan’s tutorial is just one of of the many quilting, embellishment, and design lessons you’ll learn on ‘Quilting Arts TV” Series 1600, available on DVD or digital download now.