Monday, August 27, 2012

Quilt materials- wool

Wool is a traditional quilt material, though since cotton became available in abundance, the time of woolen patchwork quilt came to an end. Still lots of woolen quilts were made in the 19th century, one of my favourite kind-the Crimean quilt. One more favourite-Irish tweed quilt and one can't be indifferent to the beauty of simple Welsh quilts with elaborate hand quilting and stunning contrasting colours.I made examples of the latter two last year.

The exhibition "Welsh-Amish connection" in Birmingham this year showed beautiful woolen quilt from Wales.

But what is absolutely not typical for quilting -is knitted wool because it stretches easily. Only with the invention of stabilizers of all kinds it has become possible to make quilts from T-shirts, sweaters and other very flexible fabrics. I was a keen knitter about 15-25 years ago, and both of my children loved their sweaters, mittens and scarves. I still do knit an occasional scarf for my daughter who can't get used to the idea of buying them. I was particularly proud of my jacquard sweaters, I even invented patterns for most of them.

Now you understand why I loved Czech exhibition. The theme was "Wool" and most of the quilters didn't just use woolen fabrics, they incorporated knitted and felted fragments in their quilts. I particularly loved this quilt of Jana Haklova.

Beautiful colours, thick knitted woolen squares contrasting the surface of the quilt, cosy and contemporary at the same time.

A couple of more photos with pretty and clever use of woolen details. Jana Lalova:

Dana Velehradska:

Helena Fikejzova:

Mirka Faberova:

I immediately started making plans for a couple of knitted sweaters I don't wear anymore. My plan is to wash them first in a washing machine to felt the threads a little, then cut the sweaters into pieces and then .. I don't know yet what I'll do but I want to make something with knitted wool for my Module 3.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Discharge 2

I filled 300 ml bottle with discharge paste yesterday and it lasts forever. The fabric I especially dyed for this purpose is up, but the bottle is still half full. The second sample I made yesterday took ages to prepare and ages to remove the resist. I stitched hard semitransparent paper with zigzag 5m wide, 0,8 mm thick, removed paper between the lines, left a layer of paper under the threads.

I thought that would help to get more contrast between discharged area and lines under the paper. In reality discharge paste was too fluid, lines were too close to each other and the fabric too thin. It got wet all over. I decided to be clever and first iron it, the discharged areas become paler, the lines under the threads and paper would get less heat and steam and lose less colour. After ironing, I will remove threads and paper, rinse the fabric et voila. Removing all the threads will take some time, I'll do it in the evening, the fabric still contains lots of discharge and smells. The smell is not that strong and nasty but adds to the inconveniences of the method.

And by the way, it takes a lot of thread to prepare even a small (50x50cm) sample. Consider using cheap(er) thread and, as a result cheap(er) sewing machine. My Pfaff hates cheap threads and I don't want to disrespect my Bernina by using them. My oldest machine did the job.

After struggling with threads I wanted something very easy. Here it is, very easy but I like it. It takes only a piece of wallpaper and a roller to apply discharge in this case, no sewing, no ripping the seams.

And to finish endless bottle:

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Discharge is what I sometimes do, but still can't always predict the result. I use some nameless product from local supplier which I mix with thickener and chemical water. Determined to master the technique I started experimenting again. This time I cut wallpaper to make a resist and stitched the motives to the fabric. It was the most unpleasant work to do but I didn't dare to iron freezer paper instead.

After I got the result I thought I might give freezer paper a chance, the fabric got discoloured under the holes from the stitches resulting in rows of white dots.

I quite like the result, though I expected more contrast between the coloured and discharged areas. May be the discharge paste didn't work to its full capacity, I can never wait for 24 hours before I start ironing.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Evolution of a traditional technique: petals, triangles and more

For my Quilt Judging course I am investigating a broad variety of textile techniques both traditional and contemporary. This is the first I am planning to write about.
Using "petals" and triangles of fabric fixed on backing to create volume and pattern was not invented by modern quilters. They were popular in China and Russia they could be found in ancient French coverlets and scrap mats in Luxembourg.

In any peasant home in Russia one could find lots of varieties of similar utilitarian objects. The techniques were nowadays transformed in beautiful and decorative quilts like one that Tatiana Bogachuk (Ukrainian artist) makes.

Her "triangle" quilts derived from modest but colourful textiles made of scraps in many countries for years.
The works of Miao people of China are exquisite in it’s craftsmanship but are based on the same principle, only they used stiffened silk "paper" that is why they could decrease the size of the triangles to a miniscule 0,5 centimeter.

The next example of using the traditional technique is this “petal” coverlet.

I first saw this technique in France, it was in a collection of an antique textile lover Michel Perrier and attracted my attention by its beauty and clever construction. Last year I found lots of similar things in Luxembourg and this year in Birmingham young textile artists (three of them, two from one university in UK and another from absolutely different country,Latvia, made quilts and textile objects using the same principle. Katie Anderson and Dawn McColgan from UK and a student Elina Veilande-Apine from Latvia. Same principle-absolutely different results. Katie created very sophisticated natural textures, subtle colours, slightly dyed and lots of variations of the same motif.

Dawn Mc Colgan used organza of different colours with carton (?) and leather triangles.

The two UK girls didn’t make quilts, their task was more to create general textiles, the student from Latvia made stunning, very original quilts. They are not bright, she prefers pastel colours. Lace flowers remind of household textiles of our grandmothers, but the regularity of these little motives lined on the surface of the quilt makes an impression of a patterned fabric. She cut the “petals” from sheer organza and covered the edges with satin stitch.

One more example of Elina's quilt. She first made hundreds of tiny circles, the same kind of circles that were made by my grandmother. Photo of the rugs was taken at some Ukrainian market by Alla Ivanova.