Friday, June 22, 2018

Nine-Patch Paper Quilt

When I saw Gwen Lafluer's Spring 2018 Stencil Girl designs, one of my favorites was a large stencil that had words and little flowers. The words said "what could I do if I wasn't afraid to try?" and they really resonated with me. (You can see the artwork I made with those words here.)

The designs surrounding the words also spoke to me. They were based on some hand carved, India-inspired designs that Gwen made during "Carve December."
I decided to try making some fabric designs with the stencils. I studied Textile Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and my early career was as a textile designer and print stylist. I  often visualize stencil and stamp designs as fabrics and imagine their colors and repeats in my mind's eye.

I made a bunch of different designs, and was especially happy with a couple. Then I thought of the words "what could I do if I wasn't afraid to try?" on the stencil and realized that fear can be of big things or of little things. Even the fear of cutting up the new fabric designs gnawed at me. I threw caution to the wind and decided to cut them into squares and try making a paper quilt. Fortunately I took photos of my design so I can recreate it in the future, which eased the fear a little.

Mixing and matching the papers I created with Gwen's new and old stencils.
A StencilGirl stencil by Jessica Sporn was printed on white and green on yellow paper.
One of Gwen's new designs was printed in  turquoise on top of the yellow and green print above.
My paper designs and fabrics in shades of yellow and pink.
My paper designs and fabrics in shades of blue, green and lavender.
These four designs were used to make the final paper quilt.
I didn't have enough of the paper I stenciled with the yellow, green and turquoise designs to make a very big quilt, so I combined them with some of my own fabrics, which I had designed a few years ago and printed at Spoonflower, along with a yellow and white print using a Jessica Sporn Stencil Girl design. Since the prints I made from Gwen's and Jessica's stencils were on paper, I glue-sticked my two fabrics to some heavy paper, then cut it all into squares. I was on a roll.

The 4" squares of the four designs looked pretty good, but the design (above) was too square and boring. I decided to cut all the squares diagonally and rearrange them.

 I almost had enough for a 9-patch, but wanted something in the center. (The red design in the middle is my living room rug, not part of the design!) I thought Gwen's words would work beautifully with the paper quilt. I painted some smooth, heavy watercolor paper turquoise, and stenciled the words on with an indigo ink. They were a little big to fit inside my center square, so I squished them in and hand wrote the word afraid.

 The words were a little too close to the edge, and the colors a little too harmonious, so I tried adding strips of contrasting fabric.
  I wasn't sure I liked it, so I left it and looked at it again the next day. I decided to try cutting the triangles even smaller so that it would be more of a pinwheel design. I liked the new arrangement, so I cut the rest of the pieces smaller, so that each 4" block would have 8 triangles.
 Next, I repeated the pattern until I had a square design with an empty center space. I  lightly glued the pieces to deli paper, leaving the center empty.
I tested out a few different ideas for the center. The words I had originally planned to have in the center didn't fit quite right, so I saved the quote for a future project.
Some reverse applique fabric pieces looked interesting and unexpected. I ended up using them in another project. You can see that project here.

I tried the reverse applique fabric pieces in the center and around the edges, and added some accent strips of another fabric.
The colors of the mermaid journal page worked, but it was too large.
The mermaid artwork looked too small inside the center square.
A piece of silk sari scrap fabric was the right size, but the wrong color.
A print of the Scribble X stencil had the right color, but didn't seem bold enough for a centerpiece.
A piece of deli paper printed with assorted stencils was harmonious, but lacked a central focus.
An art deco stencil print had the right colors, but was the wrong size and shape.
A print of Gwen's Art DecoMedallion stencil was just the right size and color for the center.
I tested some other stencils as accent, but they were too large and the extra brown color didn't work.
Finally, I decided to keep it simple and move forward with just Gwen's turquoise Art Deco Sun Medallion stencil in the center. The color was right, and the geometry worked with the quilt's geometry.
After backing the pieces with some fabric for stability and removing the deli paper that they were temporarily glued to, I zigzag stitched all the pieces together, and the design was finished.
A close up of the stitching in progress.
Detail shot of the stitched center design and surrounding quilt pieces.
My plan is to print some yardage of the green and yellow designs at Spoonflower so that I can play with the design some more, but this time as a real quilted fabric instead of paper. Can't you see this design as a big quilt on a bed, as throw pillows, or even a summer dress?


SandeeNC said...

You are amazing!!!!!!!!

ann barnes said...

I always love seeing your process, you are so creative and how fun to make some fabric of the other prints, oh the possibilities! This is beautiful Linda, such a great way to use the stencils.

Tracey@Hotchpotchcreations said...

What a super post, stamping and stencilling onto fabrics gives those images and shapes a whole new story for our eyes. What did we ever do before we could take pictures to help recreate those produced designs. I often think that those earlier designers must have had the most magnificent of memories.
Your paper patch quilt is delightful, machine stitch always brings new life to paper.
Thank you so much for sharing Linda, your textile designs shine through and I'm so glad Gwen directed me your way.
Have a fabulous weekend with much creativity. Tracey.

Jill McDowell said...

Linda, I love the combination of Gwen’s stencils with your beautiful fabric. This is really an inspiring piece and I can’t wait to see what you come up with with a fabric quilt. Your background in textile designs shines through this one.

Gwen Lafleur said...

This is so beautiful Linda - such a great idea, and it turned out just beautiful... love it!

Lynda Shoup said...

Linda, I love this piece! So glad that you kept auditioning pieces for the middle because the one you ended with is brilliant! It really makes the whole thing harmonize!