As part of the activities developed for the current Kaffe Fassett exhibition at the American Museum in Britain I am giving 2 separate day workshops to make a small panel of hand appliqué flowers. I am supplying the same fabrics used for the large scale appliquéd quilt that I made for Kaffe to celebrate his 80th birthday.
I started the day by taking all the participants to the museum’s Quilt Room to see the original quilt and explained some of the techniques we would cover. I explained my technique of hand stitching over the raw edges of the bonded motifs, which is easier than the original way of turning a small hem and stitching onto the panel. They were asked to design their own version of the appliquéd flower and shell panels – but not the central Kaffe portrait.
I had prepared a whole sheaf of flowered fabric by pressing heat transfer paper onto the backs of them so they were ready to cut out. I also took the remaining motifs I had cut, but not used, from my quilt. Plus a selection of different coloured squares of Shot Cotton for the backgrounds, these I backed with a woven cotton interlining to strengthen them for appliqué to be sewn without a stretcher or hoop.
Everyone had to choose their own back ground fabric first, this makes finding colours for the individual flowers easier; I know how daunting it is to have so much choice. But they soon got going on the cutting and placing….
The first thing I noticed was that most people put far too many flowers onto the fabric squares with odd gaps between. I had to keep reminding them that this was to be a hand- stitched appliqué and to think about the work involved to finish the stitching later at home….. but even so most people favoured lots and lots of flowers, below shows some work in progress.
After the basic shapes were developed extra flowers could be found in the spare fabrics I had brought, and people could bond and press motifs individually to balance or fill up their basic design. Several people worked as I do and changed their designs a great deal during the design process until they were about satisfied.
Other people had very organised workspaces (very unlike me) and I enjoyed seeing their beautifully laid out tables with all necessary equipment to hand. They seemed to progress steadily and surely, with only a small tweak or suggestion of a different fabric from me
eventually all the designs were organised; some really interesting designs were arrived at by chopping and changing until the last minute…
but eventually everyone had to commit to trimming,
then tracing around places with a water soluble pen, before pressing the whole design into position.
and then after a quick demonstration from me – start to stitch it.
They all were very skilled at this very precise stitching, a relief as poor work at this point can ruin all the meticulous care taken after this really intense design stage.
At the end of the afternoon session there was a lovely and varied set of designs and some were already being stitched – with promises from the rest that they would definitely finish them.
And for anyone who is interested in joining the next workshop – it is on Saturday September 21st 2019.