Tuesday 27 July 2021

Portrait Quilts

 This year, I had decided that I wanted to get better at making portraits. The trouble is that it is hard to make portraits when you are also doing other quilts for various shows.

In our Art Quilters group, we are continuing to work in a series. Our recent topic was Grace Crowley, an Australian abstract artist who was born in 1890 and died in 1979 ages 89.

I did my first quilt inspired by one of her paintings from 1951.

When I was in Adelaide earlier this year, I spent a couple of hours at their Art Gallery. I was thrilled to come face to face with a Grace Crowley painting.

Abstract by Grace Crowley 1953

When it came to making the second quilt in the series, I decided to include a portrait of Grace Crowley. That way I could fulfill the brief of working in a series and practice my portraits as well. I used four values to make the portrait and I used the painting that I saw at the gallery as my inspiration.

Grace Crowley 2

I was going to use a transparency method to make a portrait for my third quilt, but I somehow forgot my intention and made another fabric portrait! I did use a collage method though. It was a much more time consuming method to make a portrait but I was happy with the outcome.

Grace Crowley 3

It was only when I had finished quilting the third one that I realised that I didn't use a light enough value for her face; it came out too dark. Oh well, I just keep learning and trying!

Here is a photo of all three quilts together.

Grace Crowley Series 

Last year, I had done a portrait class with Phyllis Cullen on-line and she is having a travelling portrait exhibition in the USA with the Mancuso group. She invited us to submit one of our portraits to be considered for inclusion. 

I remembered a photo that I had taken of my grandson Jack last year. We were just coming out of a four-month lockdown and the playgrounds were being opened up. We still couldn't meet at our houses but we could catch up at a playground. It was such a happy day and the children were just as thrilled as the adults to be out and about.

I dropped everything and spent all my time making the quilt, the deadline was approaching and the pressure was on. I was absolutely delighted when my quilt was accepted for the exhibition.


I posted it the day that I finished, I just hope that it gets there in time, the post is so erratic at the moment.

I was happy with it; my family weren't that impressed though. I suppose a quilt can never look as good as a real photo. Probably a good reason to try a more artistic approach than realism. My daughter thought he looked like a scary doll from a horror movie, oh dear!

Anyway, I am not discouraged and want to make more and improve.

Bye for now,


Tuesday 20 July 2021

Eco Printing Experiment

 I decided to try some eco printing, now that is something I never thought I would say! I was inspired by a You Tube video I saw as well as one of my fellow art quilters who was also having a go.

I found an on-line beginner class by an English lady called Caroline Nixon, she was very thorough with her advice.

Eco printing

You have to have a mordant for the leaves to print onto the fabric. You can buy iron sulphate powder in shops but I found an old rusting saw that my husband still had in his garage and soaked it in water and vinegar for a few days.

Making iron water

I forgot to take a photo of the iron water a few days later, but it was quite rusty looking. I had to pour the water through paper towels a couple of times to get the rusty bits out and just have the iron water.

I rinsed some raw silk into the iron water, rung it out and then placed leaves on the top.

I tried all different leaves to see what worked.

I rolled up my bundle of leaves using an old rolling pin and plastic wrap as a barrier. It's important to roll it tightly.

My leaf bundle

Then I had to wrap up the bundle to keep it together while it was steaming. I used some crepe bandage that has a bit of stretch.

Leaf bundle wrapped

Here it is steaming for One and a half hours


This is the first raw silk that I tried, all the leaves printed.

You get a clearer print if you put the back of the leaf onto the fabric.

That was so much fun, I thought I would try again with another piece of silk, but this time the fabric was a bit too wet and the print was a bit blurry. I used rose and camellia leaves, the camellia leaves don't print very well.

Blurry print

I quickly tried again but this time I ironed the fabric so it was almost dry, I still managed to get a print from the rose leaves but the fabric had been too dry. The yellow on the right was me trying the camellia leaves again.

Rose leaves

I had run out of time and iron water by now and so that was the end of my experiment.

I actually enjoyed it much more than I expected. I learned that I loved the smell of the leaves steaming and you need the fabric to be damp but not too wet or too dry. I also learnt that deciduous leaves print the best. They have the most tannin when they are about to drop off the tree, so autumn leaves are perfect for eco printing.

I will definitely try again one day; I don't know if I will start to include eco printing in my quilts but you never know!

I do enjoy experimenting though, it is fun.

Bye for now,


Tuesday 6 July 2021

Sun printing

 We had a couple of days of sunny weather last week. It is the middle of winter and it wasn't warm but I thought I would grab the chance to do some sun-printing to prepare for an upcoming project I have in mind.

Here are some leaves sitting on some fabric waiting for some magic to happen.

Sun Printing with leaves

I want the fabric for a nature inspired quilt so I didn't want the fabrics to be too bright.

Here is the result of that fabric.

Sun printing result

After I had removed the leaves, I painted over with some yellow paint and then I added some olive green paint to make it more nature inspired rather than bright.

I also painted a fabric and left it in the sun with loose folds, once again I painted it twice for a stronger effect.
Sun printing with folds

I wanted to use up all my left over paint, so I put a stencil on some fabrics.

Sun printing with stencil

That was a very clear print, I think I'll be able to use them as applique in my project.

Some of my sun prints didn't have enough texture on them so I decided to add some flour resist. I hadn't done any flour resist since last year but luckily I could look up my old blog post to remember how I did it.

Here is my post on Flour Resist from last year.

I cracked the first one a bit too much and so the lines got a bit thick.

Sun printing and flour resist

I actually just gently tapped the stiffened flour on the back next to get a finer result.

Flour resist

Next I put some flour resist on plain white fabric, thinking I could paint it later in whatever colour I wanted. I was very gentle with the cracking this time and the lines were very fine.

Very fine flour resist

I think I will be able to use these fabrics in my upcoming quilt, I hope so anyway. I am trying something new this time, inspired by my recent collage work. I want to transfer what I have learned on paper to fabric.

Bye for now,


Thursday 1 July 2021

Follow my Blog by Email

 I have mentioned before that Blogger have decided to stop allowing people to follow posts by email. I don't know why, but I follow a lot of blogs by email so it is annoying for me.

Anyway, I wish to continue writing my blog, at least for my own benefit because I can never remember how I did something, so it is a great reference for me.

I now have a new way that people can follow my blog through Follow-it

People who already follow my blog by email don't have to do anything, your email addresses have been switched over automatically. 

Anyone who would like to follow my blog by email can sign up in my blog side bar on the right.

Meanwhile, we have been having a burst of sunny winter weather so I have been doing some printing.

Sun printing with leaves

I'll let you see the results in the next post.

I've been juried in Houston and the Festival of Quilts in the UK as well! That's always exciting. So, it's been busy, working on my blog behind the scenes, 2 family birthdays and doing some dyeing and sun-printing. It's never a dull moment at my place.

Bye for now,