A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Making it your own

In 2011 I was lucky enough to get a place on the Contemporary Quilt Summer School workshop with Jo Budd  She was a very generous and thoughtful teacher and a learnt a lot about the techniques she uses  to  construct her fabrics but more importantly  how she goes about  composing  her abstract pieces from these. The final session on stitching was a bit rushed but she demonstrated how she uses long stitches at the back and tiny, almost invisible, stitches on the front to make subtle alterations to the texture of the fabric.

'Summer Rain' by Jo Budd

With some of the fabrics I produced on the workshop ( I produced loads!)  I put together some of my favourites in purples that spoke of the sea , placing them on a canvas backing as Jo often does. I did start to attempt to stitch using her methods ( I own  a small piece of hers  ‘Summer Rain’ which I could refer to ) and canvas is certainly easy to stitch through even if it does fray too easily  but I like my stitching visible! I took it as a sewing project while I was on holiday in Weymouth overlooking Portland and I feel I stitched memories of the big skies into it.

My  main focus of the workshop ‘Microcosm to Macrocosm ‘ was producing different fabrics using as inspiration  a stick I found on the towpath of the Thames going into work, attempting to capture its colours and textures. Jo helped me with the composition, moving different components around to create the start of a more balanced piece. But I wasn’t happy with the idea of using canvas as the backing , that was her method not mine,  and I wanted to use something  coloured where I could layer and integrate the fabrics to suggest the layers of peeling paint.  

I  like to ‘repurpose’ old quilts  so I  used an old red and sprigged floral strippy coverlet and  painted sections with acrylic paints (partly to stick down some the fraying fabric). It had already been quilted with chevrons and I added further hand stitching both to attach the layers of printed fabrics and to integrate them with the background cloth.  It was so therapeutic, not thinking too much but responding to the fabrics, it was difficult to know when to stop!

I’ve since made 3 further pieces from that 1 quilt, using almost every last scrap. ‘Nautical Dawn’ is about to go to Prague as part of CQ Horizons exhibition  and the  2 ‘Connection’ pieces will at Minerva Arts from  July to September ( meet the artist On  20 July).

The rough back of homespun twill with its unconscious marks contrasts with the bright colours of the front with carefully blended threads - the currents and eddies swirling beneath the surface. I’ll be talking more about backs and the ‘unconscious side’ in my next post.


  1. I am loving these!!!!
    I am an abstract painter and these remind me of one!! Nice: )

  2. VERY nice.. Love the hand work!

  3. VERY nice.. Love the hand work!

  4. Really interesting post Mags - looking forward to seeing you at The Minerva Arts Centre in the summer!

  5. This is a wonderful idea to reuse and old fabric and paint it over even to bring it to life again. Great post. Thanks for explaining it!


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