Putting Aside a Bogged Down Project to Draft a New Sea Themed Quilt

tatum-detail-waiting-AQSI got bogged down on designing my deep forest quilt with woodland creatures. I won’t abandon it, but will put it aside for a while. So I have decided after some encouragement from my friends and family to make another waiting-at-seaside quilt as quilt 2 in the clipper ship/sea series.

I think the original Waiting… has been my most popular quilt as far as positive comments from people…not so much from judges. This time I am planning to pay particular attention to the details of the clipper ship and to the family member(s) waiting for their loved one to return from sea, and greatly narrow or eliminate the borders. If I can successfully digitally paint a nineteenth century woman and child looking out to sea in anticipation, I will use them. This will again be my own original artwork except for the clipper ship.

Here’s how I approach a new wall art quilt that I am making in cotton (the silk based quilt process is different:

  1. I get an idea and lightly draw up a design concept on paper or in Corel Painter 15
  2. I put it aside a day or two and start hunting for royalty free images for elements I am going to need a reference image for drawing…in this case the clipper ship.
  3. I paint the elements for fabric prints…in this case the family member(s) waiting at sea side and the detailed drawing of the clipper ship.
  4. I then put the idea together in Corel Painter 15 and save it as both a .rif and a jpg.
  5. I take it to Corel Draw and size it to full size.   Corel Draw will automatically separate the pattern into printable sized sheets…usually I use 11 x 17 inch paper for this.
  6. I print it out and tape it together, providing me a full-sized pattern to work from.
  7. I crop out the elements that need to be printed on fabrics…in this case the family member(s) waiting at sea side or just their faces and hands, depending…and take the full sized element back to Corel Painter 15 to reference for matching the .rif format size and finalize the digital painting in the correct sizes.  I intensify the saturation by 25 percent and save as .rif or tiff file, which have fewer printer problems than jpg, and print these parts on fabric.  I have been known to send it through the ink jet printer twice, lining it up carefully, with very good results, and thoroughly saturating the fabric with the inks.  I then iron it to heat set it, rinse it in really hot water a couple of times, wring it out with a towel, and iron it dry.  This removes excess ink and makes it reliably permanent.   If it makes it too light, I will print another piece after raising the saturation level another ten percent. Occasionally, I will touch it up with real fabric ink and heat set again.
  8. In this case, I will paint the sky with Setacolor fabric inks…so I get some prepared-for-dye fabric, which I lay flat and spray with water, and wash paint it with the watered down fabric inks.  I heat set and hot rinse and iron it dry like I do with the printed fabrics.
  9. I prewash all the other fabrics involved.  I spray starch and iron everything before I start to construct the top.
  10. I then set about putting it together, confident that all the fabrics are washable and I can lightly wash and block the finished quilt before I bind it.
  11. Note that I use Crayola washable markers on the washed and starched fabrics to mark the top as I go.  It has always always come out in the blocking process for all my cotton quilts even if I iron over it.

I love clipper ships, and I plan on doing careful applique, trapunto work on the sails, and detailed stitching for the ship’s rigging. I am on the hunt for just the right royalty free picture of a clipper ship to base my quilted ship on. Copyright is always an issue when I am using someone else’s artwork or photography even as an inspiration for part of my quilts. Fortunately, I have a lot of resources for clipper ships that are royalty free now. it’s a matter of finding the right one and then redrawing it as a pattern for me to use.

I see a whole long series of historic ships, storms at sea, and waiting at sea side drama in my future. I plan on addressing some of the issues highlighted by judges for Waiting… as I reach for a higher level of quilt making.

Meanwhile, I am making progress on embroidering the Sashiko on the Peppered Cotton for my Ikebana quilt, which is kind of an ode to my years of living in Kanazawa, Japan and studying Ikebana. The biggest challenge of this quilt will be the Ikebana applique arrangement. The background is going to be simple embroidered and printed fabric blocks based on a five inch grid. Some of the blocks are 10 x 10, some 10 x 5, and the rest 5 x 5 arranged after embroidery and cutting on my design board. And I’m still working on my books.

Sew happy everyone…Hoping you have some fun in your sewing space today.