Fabric Sky

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on 12 Sep 2011 11:07 PM

This is my 1st piece attempting to copy a photograph and using free motion stitching. I'd love critiques!

Link to it here


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ckquilter wrote
on 14 Sep 2011 9:18 PM

hi kaci

a couple of questions for you - are you trying to reproduce the picture as closely as possible?

why did you choose this picture to start with ?

you show the backof the quilt - is it printed on fabric ? and why did you use that for the back ?

is this piece as large as it is gonna get? are there gonna be any additional elements on it? is it gonna be a backdrop for something else?

do you have a second piece planned? and is it gonna be a sky also, or something else?


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on 15 Sep 2011 7:39 PM

Thanks for the response, I look forward to hearing what you think :)


are you trying to reproduce the picture as closely as possible? Yes, in terms of the pieces, but I didn't figure out how to use the Ruby Beholder to select fabrics that matched the shades properly so I know that part didn't end up matching up.

why did you choose this picture to start with ? I've been obsessed with this idea of making fabric cities. In that process, i use a lot of cloud and brick wall printed fabrics and I wanted to add the extra interest to my pieces by creating the sky myself rather than using pre-printed fabrics. I knew right when I started that I should have tried something simpler but had to face the challenge and finish what I'd started, lol

you show the backof the quilt - is it printed on fabric ? No it wasn't, I wished I'd traced some of the larger pieces onto the fabric though because things were REALLY hard to align once I started laying it out.

and why did you use that for the back ? Lack of experience. The biggest lesson I learned right off the bat was to use a stabilizer of some sort so the piece doesn't loose it's shape so bad through the sewing process. What type of backing would you recommend? 

is this piece as large as it is gonna get? I'm still debating that. A part of me wants to use it as the sky in a  larger piece and add the buildings to the bottom. Another part of me wants to let it be a learning piece and move on to the next thing.

are there gonna be any additional elements on it? is it gonna be a backdrop for something else? maybe?? Buildings or I was also thinking a sun or a red balloon :)

do you have a second piece planned? I had so much fun, I'll definitely be doing more pieces.

and is it gonna be a sky also, or something else? I think it will contain a sky as part of a city (like I said, current obsession) and I really want to incorporate lace into the next one.


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ckquilter wrote
on 15 Sep 2011 11:29 PM

hi kaci

it is always fun to meet someone working on original creations - rather than just using someone else's patterns.   i learn a lot that way. and meet some wonderful people.

it is hard to tell exact colors on the computer screen. so you have to take that into account in any critiques.  

i like the original picture. and i think you are right on when you are learning that commercial printed sky fabrics just don't look right. i think you are on the right track in deciding to make your own.

one comment on your piece - i always think of skies as being smooth (except maybe for clouds or lightning) and there is one fabric in your sky i find too textured and too obtrusive. i would have used something with less texture.  and you could blend the pieces together and blur their edges by more stitching and by using the right choices in thread colors and values.                                        anoher problem with making the sky too textured - is that then the buildings in front don't stand out as well. and the sky is far away - there should be much less detail in it than in the buildings which are much closer to the viewer.

i don't think you needed something simpler - i think you made good start with this one. and sounds like you learned a lot in the process - so it was a good choice to start with.

 i am still not sure of your construction methods. you show the picture on the back of the quilt; but then you say it is not printed on fabric. so is it a paper print out of the picture??  or?   and you seem to indicate you used the back to line up your fabric pieces on the front - why? there are several easy ways to arrange your fabric pieces -while working from the front side. 

again, it is not easily seen on the computer screen. bu you indicate some problems with distortion - which usually comes from heavy stitching in some areas and less stitching in others.  did you do the stitching on the quilt top or after it was layered (and thus it is quilting).  when you are working small, and are planning on doing lots of stitching in places and none in others (ie the density of stitching varies greatly over the quilt )  it can be helpful to put a medium weight stabilizer under the top and then do your blending stitches. the stabilizer will reduce distortion from uneven stitch density across the surface, and will even help a wall hanging hang better (just leave it in); and as long as the piece is not too large, moving it around is not too difficult.

another option is to sandwich the top, and then do a more uniform density of stitching over the whole surface of the quilt.

what is the basis of your interest in cities and buildings right now? do you live in a large city ? or visited one that you enjoyed? or are wanting to visit one?            is it the city or specific buildings you are interested in?  or is it the shape of the skyline?  and have you used lame' or other textured  or shiny fabrics for your buildings?       you also mention a sun or red balloon. what significance do they hold for you?

your idea of lace could be very effective as clouds in the sky.

another  comment.  i learned when i was making skies, that i was happiest with the results when i kept the pieces of fabric mostly horizontal.  strong vertical elements usually look wrong.   unless it is a cloud.                        and the horizontal elements in the sky would play well with strong vertical elements from tall city buildings.          some of the shapes in your sky are too bumpy and too vertical for me.  it looks artificial and contrived (as if you are toooo closely trying to reproduce a picture; instead of creating a feeling and an appropriate background for elements in front (your buildings).

always remember when you are creating - especially when reproducing a photo - very seldom (ever?) is a photo perfect . they are great to get you started - but i find many people are afraid to alter elements of the picture - even when it obviously very much needs to be changed.

also remember - skies can be blue. but they are also often black or grey or have warm colors of sunset or sunrise in them. they can be greenish (near thunderstorms)   or even red.      so if a featureless blue sky is best for your city - great. but if your buidings would be enhanced by other colors - don't get stuck on blue skies (or green grass or brown trees).

you definitely need to keep working on more. you aleady have the start to your city series. and working in a series will let you play with as many ideas as you have time for. wihout having to put everything you want to try into just one piece.

do you have any pictures of your other city quilts you can share? just to see where you have been.

many large buildings these days use glass as part of their design. have you tried to capture that feel in any of your previous works?  and some newer buildings are asymmetric - have you included any of them in your earlier pieces? or do you have plans to use them for work still to come?


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RUEdOAK wrote
on 17 Sep 2011 9:14 PM


Just read through ckquilter's comments and questions (GREAT questions) and your replies.

I agree that in our visual language of "sky,"  linear and horizontal line and form dominates. Short of puffy clouds. :-) So even though the photo of clouds has vertical, I think it is tricky to pull it off in fiber. I suspect this is related to perspective, and how photos can so easily flatten and distort. So like ckquilter, I encourage you to gear up artistic interpretation over what you see in the photo.

The texture is an interesting question...does it allow the sky to recede enough for our eyes to read it as "sky"???  This is where I would love to see this piece taken into a larger work, with your beloved buildings against it.  Just like in painting, it depends on how you do it, right? So if you were to go for buildings / skyline with textured fabric, I could easily see this sky working perfectly.

I'd encourage you to post your image here, as it would be much easier to read the comments while viewing it directly!

Looking forward to your next stage.


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