Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Felting with Elizabeth Armstrong

Earlier this year I did in a one day beginner wet felting class with felter extraordinaire Elizabeth Armstrong. It was such an enjoyable day and Elizabeth is a lovely patient teacher. We were surrounded with a riot of colour in the classroom with many of Elizabeth's projects decorating the room.

She suggested that we take photos so we could remember what we did. We were allowed to pick any colour background and I chose green. She gave suggestions and instructed us on what to do.

I wasn't going to make it into anything; it was just a  learning experience for me and I tried to add as much as I could.
It was hard to photograph the piece because it was quite wide, so here it is on an angle.

After making the background and then covering it with all sorts of wool shapes and fabric and threads we had to wet felt our pieces. After adding soapy water, we rolled and rolled and rolled until at last we could open out our felted pieces and then wash all the soap out.

Felting complete
It was amazing to see all those shapes become one piece of fabric. I don't particularly like it but remember I was just trying to see how it all worked.

I bought Elizabeth's book because I knew that I would forget how to do it.

Felt Happy by Elizabeth Armstrong
I also bought some wool supplies from her.

Not long after the class I started to mind my granddaughter during the week and I haven't done any more wet felting.
Recently I felt inspired to dust of my Embellisher machine and try some needle felting which is a dry felting technique. I am trying to do some landscape style felting and so far I am quite happy.

Needle felting a landscape
An Embellisher machine looks like a sewing machine but it uses no thread, it has a group of barbed needles and felts wool fabrics together. It gives a different look to wet felting and it is not as hard on your arms and hands as wet felting is.

I would still like to try wet felting again though. I could become addicted to felting, I love the effects and I would love to do another class with Elizabeth Armstrong.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Insects on a Crazy Quilt

I am back to working on my crazy quilt about the Seasons and I have added some insects to the centre block. They are good to add interest in some bare spots.

I have had some little black and yellow striped beads for years and I have finally used them.

Black and yellow striped beads
I am not sure where I bought them now; it might have been in Houston. I used a little black bead for a head and then added some legs with embroidery thread.

Head and legs attached
Finally I added some wings and my little beads became Bees.

Beaded Bees
I also embroidered a little purple beetle.

There is a caterpillar climbing on a branch.

I always have to have some dragonflies flitting around my quilts.

I love the pop of colour that a lady- bird adds to a quilt.

Lady bird
Finally I added some simple little embroidered butterflies.

This quilt is taking me ages and sometimes I wonder if I'll ever finish it.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Making Under the Sea part 2

In my last post I wrote all about how I made the fish on my quilt Under the Sea.

The quilt was supposed to be all about the different textures under water and so I made lots of little folds in the rocks at the bottom and the idea was that it would be a good place to insert all sorts of different coral.

Textured rocks
I thought it was a good idea at the time but I don't think that I would do it again. I had to add some bits of wadding behind some of the folds so they didn't collapse and it was quite difficult to quilt.

I made lots of different types of coral using felt and embroidery thread.

Making the coral
Here is a photo of me trying to place the coral on the rocks into a pleasing composition. I was really starting to think that the quilt was not going to work at this stage.

Inserting the Coral
I made the large red and green coral by thread painting it onto water soluble plastic.

Thread painting the red coral
I made the green cords using a cording foot on my sewing machine but I coloured the white cord with my fabric pen first in case there were some gaps in the thread. I used a fine white piping cord for the reeds.

Painting the cord
Covering the piping cord with thread
As I was constructing the quilt I always imagined that those cords would go on the right side of the quilt.

Trying to place the cords
In the end the cords ended up on the left side of the quilt because it was too busy over there on the right.

Placing the cords on the left of the quilt
I made the leaves separately by thread painting them onto water soluble plastic but next time I might try and make them by attaching them to the cords as I sew them. They were quite fiddly to attach to the cords afterwards.

Thread painting the leaves
 Here is a photo of the completed quilt.

Under the Sea©2015 Linda Steele
I really enjoyed making this quilt and maybe I will make another one day. I had to make the quilt 100cm high and only 40 cm wide because of the size requirements for the contest. It would be interesting to make another one in a horizontal format.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Making Under the Sea

In the last post I wrote about my latest quilt called Under the Sea, it was a boring quilt name but I didn't have much time to think of a name, I was too focused on getting the quilt finished.

I am getting into the habit of taking progress photos as I make my quilts these days. In the past I used to try and write down what I did but I could never find where I had written my notes or I would forget to write it down altogether. My camera is always close by and it's easy to take a quick photo and then move on to the next step.


The quilt was supposed to be about texture and I had the idea of using wool for the starfish. I didn't want him to be plain orange or yellow and so I needle felted the two colours together for more interest.

Needle felting the wool
Because I couldn't mark the wool, I drew a star fish shape onto tracing paper and cut out the shape. Then I added some beads to give him the bumpy look that they have.

Cutting out the star fish

I wasn't sure how I was going to do the Lion Fish. I got out some silk fabric and was going to applique him but the thought of all those stripes put me off. In desperation I wondered if I could draw him on a piece of white silk with some fabric marking pens.

Drawing the Lion Fish
I used two pens, one of top of the other to get the correct colour, to my surprise it worked very well. I put some fusible web behind the silk and cut carefully around the fish.

Cutting out the Lion Fish
Here is a photo of the Lion Fish on the quilt, he looks so pretty but really they are poisonous and the fish try to avoid them.

Lion Fish
I wanted to get some colour in the top part of the quilt because I knew there would be a lot of colour down the bottom with the coral. I tried some blue silk against the background and thought it would work.

Trying colours
I fused the blue silk fish as well.

I used two colours of an orange/ yellow silk that I had hand dyed a couple of years ago for the yellow fish.

Yellow fish
I wanted the purple fish that were behind the yellow fish to be a matte finish so they would look further back and they are actually painted interfacing.

Here's a photo of the entire quilt.

Under the Sea ©2015 Linda Steele

I am so glad that I took the photos to help me remember what I did.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Under the Sea

I was absolutely thrilled to hear the news that my Under the Sea quilt had won 2nd prize in the World of Textures competition. The competition was held at the Berry Patchwork Retreat and Quilt Show, in Berry NSW, Australia.

Under the Sea ©2015 Linda Steele
I had known about the competition for ages and I had no inspiration and no time while minding Savannah, my little granddaughter. One day as I was watching her play with her toys I thought about creating texture with coral and using my embroidery skills from all the crazy quilting I have done over the years. Once I had the theme lots of ideas started coming to me.

I am usually tired at night after a day with Savannah but I do have the weekends free and just by chance the school holidays were coming up. My daughter is a school teacher so I get the school holidays off.

I worked every spare minute. I even took my little bits of coral away with me when we went to Queensland for a week.

I didn't draw up any pattern, I just made it up as I went along. It was very free and I really enjoyed making it.

Lion Fish
I had thought about making an Under Sea quilt before but I never got inspired enough to actually do it, although I have done some underwater crazy blocks before and always enjoyed making them.

Star Fish
I used many different fabrics and materials. In fact I had been collecting all sorts of fancy threads and shiny fabrics over the years to use 'one day'. That day finally came and out came the boxes, I had stuff everywhere.

Bottom left of Quilt
I was making all sorts of different textures, none of them very realistic and not all of them very successful but I was really pushed for time and hardly had time to think.

Bottom right of quilt
There were times near the end that I didn't think that I would be able to pull it all together and make that coral work with one another. That's where the french knots came in very handy.

There was a size requirement of 100cm (39") high and only 40cm (16") wide, so it was a long and narrow quilt. I only just got it finished in time, I faced the quilt, photographed it and sent it off to Berry express post to get it in before the deadline.

To actually finish the quilt and get a prize for it was icing on the cake especially as I have never entered an Art Quilt competition before. I have made plenty of art quilts but never entered them anywhere.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Embroidered Birds

I am still working away on my crazy quilt about the Seasons. I have nearly finished the centre and I noticed that I had embroidered 4 birds, one for each of the seasons.

In the winter section I put a Cardinal even though we don't have them in Australia, they remind me of winter. Maybe it's because I grew up with so many Northern Hemisphere Christmas scenes on cards and in books. I love their beautiful colour against the pale snowy background.


For Spring a chose a dear little Finch. I love his little white spots


In Summer I chose an Ibis wading in the water. I have a soft spot for the Ibis because every summer we were visited by an Ibis who used to eat the grass in our backyard. I haven't seen him around for a few years now.

I chose a goose for Autumn because of all the stories I read growing up about the geese flying away before winter comes.

I think it will be a while before my Seasons quilt is finished. I have more embroidery plus some applique to do before the top can be put together.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Textile Inspiration

Textiles from around the world have been inspiring artists and designers for years. Last month while studying the book Connecting Design to Stitch by Sandra Meech the Waverley Art Quilters were finding images of Textile inspiration.

There are many books devoted to Textile Inspiration and Dover Books have a huge list of titles that are copyright free. I have a few of them, including this one about Indian Designs.

Although I have quite a few of these books, I don't think I have actually used any of the motifs but they are a good starting point when you are gathering ideas for a quilt.

I was looking around my house for some textile ideas and realised that most of the textiles I have are quite traditional.

We are gradually repainting our house and this wallpaper will be taken down in the next couple of years.

I am not sure if the textiles around my home are very inspirational for an art quilt but I can see their value for an applique or quilting design.

Michele Hill has made many quilts inspired by William Morris Textiles and many of today's quilters get their inspiration from vintage quilts.

I looked through the quilts that I have already made and only one has been inspired by a textile and that is the small quilt I made inspired by Wallpaper Designer, Florence Broadhurst. You can see the blog post I made about this quilt here.

Florence by Linda Steele
The next topic we have to study is Fashion. I think I will have to look further afield than my own wardrobe to find anything for that subject!

Bye for now,