Friday, October 24, 2014

Bloggers Quilt Festival: Mini-Quilt Entry

It's that time of year again- the time of year when you can mention Houston and quilters immediately think of Market and IQF, and when bloggers gear up for the Bloggers Quilt Festival!  I love participating and looking at everyone's fabulous quilts and I'm super grateful to Amy for continuing to host it!

This is my entry in the mini-quilt category, you can see all the other entries in that category here, and the voting starts November 1.

My second entry (the photoreceptor quilt) is in the ROYGBIV category, so check it out too.

I made this quilt in April to donate to the annual SAQA auction.  SAQA, the Studio Art Quilts Associates is a really fabulous organization for any art quilter or even someone interested in art quilting.
Cuttlefish, Shannon Conley, 2014, 12 x 12

It started because I'd been thinking about the idea of cutwork embroidery and negative space, and how that could be used in quilting in a very free-form way.  To try it out, I made a quilt sandwich in which all three layers were synthetic (i.e. backing and front polyester and polyester batting), then traced a cuttlefish from a picture I took at the Monterey aquarium a few years back.  I free motion stitched the fish outline with cotton thread, then used my woodburning tool to cut through all three layers just inside the outline.  

It worked great, the woodburning tool cut right up to the edge of the cotton thread (which doesn't burn as easily) and sealed all three layers so there were no frayed edges or loose batting.  

After cutting out the fish, I put two layers of water soluble stabilizer under the open areas and just started thread painting.  

In the initial picture, the fish was swimming through some green foliage in front of a piece of corally-looking rock.  I thought about painting it, but I'm not very good at that.  I thought about just quilting it, but I felt like that might be too much white.  I thought about trying to color and cut out some pieces of evolon or dryer sheets and applique them on top, but nothing was really very inspiring.  

Then I saw this on Judy Simmons blog.  She has a great step-by-step tutorial so I encourage you to check it out. She describes a technique where you can transfer from a transparency to fabric. Basically, you print out your picture on the transparency, then paint your fabric with gel medium wherever you want the picture to transfer, then put the transparency (ink side down) on the fabric and rub all over it.    I tried it and it worked great!  you can see below, I did not paint over the fish part, so no ink transferred there, but it transferred really nicely everywhere else.  It's a bit mottled looking and soft-edged; you wouldn't want to use this technique for crisp printing, but for an underwater scene I thought it turned out nicely.

Then I just used about six different green fabrics (mostly polyesters, silks, and velvets) to layer leaves on top, and then quilted away.  I love that you can see the green printed leaves peeking out a bit from behind.  I think they add some nice dimension.

I really enjoyed working on this- I love fish and underwater scenes and it was fun to try so many different techniques.  I'm enamored with the way the open portions catch the light and shadows when the piece and provide a feel of transparency.  I'm super glad it could raise a little money for such a wonderful organization!

If you clicked over from the Bloggers Quilt Festival, I hope you'll come back again to see more of my work!  Thanks again to Amy for hosting!


  1. Cool Squid!! It's like a fabric slice of the ocean.

  2. This is awesome! I love how the squid is done with the open areas.

  3. This was such an interesting concept and it turned out so well. Enjoy the festival, I hope you win a prize :)

  4. What a creative mini quilt! lovely idea!!!
    Good luck in the Blogger Quilt festival!

  5. Incredible detail - great job!