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.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Background Check - Week 2 - RIPPED UP

OK....confession time.....(quilt police - cover your ears!!!) I LOVE RIPPING FABRIC!!

These days I often only use my rotary cutter to cut the batting, facing and sleeve!

As one who prefers free-wheeling, fly by the seat of your pants, moment of inspiration kind of stuff, ripping fabric was a total liberation to me. I love the texture and whimsy it gives to many of my backgrounds.

So put your rulers and rotary cutter aside for just a bit and play with me!!!


Step 1
Gather your fabrics
For example, I have a container of a ton of all shades of blue which I went through to pick out just the right ones. But sometimes I rip a smaller bit off a huge piece at just the right spot for the look I want. No fabric beyond a 6"X6" square is safe in my studio!

Step 2
Rip Away!
Rip off the size of fabric pieces you need to cover the portion of the background you are working on. Squares and rectangles, smaller to larger.

Step 3
Arrange on the batting
Place the bits of fabric to create the look you want. Be sure to overlap them enough so that when they are sewn down, the batting won't be visible. I like to work directly on the batting (with the backing under it). When I first did this technique I arranged it on a piece of muslin but it just added another layer of fabric and made some parts 4 layers thick! UGH! I audition many pieces in all different places until I find just the look and balance I want.

This is a piece my granddaughter is working on at this time. She chose to use more rectangular strips than I usually use but hey...it's HER quilt! Still, you can get the idea.

Step 4
Make it Stay
I usually work directly onto fusible batting which helps a lot but since they are overlapped more in some places that others, I also use a glue stick when I need to be sure a corner or edge stays in place.
I sometimes pin as well but find that a bit cumbersome. Can't tell you how often I have actually quilted a pin into the quilt itself.  Ouch!!

Step 5
Stitch it down
Often I just stitch around the edges of the bits and since they are not usually that large, it is just enough to be exactly what I need.  But in the pieces I just completed recently, I did some different quilting stitching because straight lines up and across just wouldn't do. Here are some examples.

You can see in the examples below, that for each piece I chose a few fabrics that tied in with the main color of the main concept of each quilt. So you can also use this technique to highlight the main color theme of the piece.

Quilting - Horizontal Wavy Lines

Quilting - Diagonal Wavy Lines

Quilting - Horizontal and Vertical Wavy Lines

Quilting - Intersecting Arching Wavy Lines

Bonus!! You can see fish and a seahorse and seaweed fabrics in these pieces as well...further enhancing the theme but still a background piece.

Here is another completed piece where I used this technique in shades of green for the shore/grass.


So ignore the quilt police sometimes and just rip away!!!

See you here again on Friday!

Kelly L Hendrickson


  1. Breaking the rule can be so freeing and fun. Thank you for more inspiration!

  2. Oh yes!! I'm not a big "rules" person anyway so I do so love the sound of ripping fabric!!


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