Piece: to sew small pieces or patches of fabric together to
make a larger piece. Usually done in a decorative pattern or design.
Traditional quilts are usually made from shapes cut and sewn in repeated
Strip piecing: in this technique the design is created in
strips. Each strip is sewn together and then joined to the other strips to
make the design. The "In March" and "Just When I Thought" illustrations
were done using strip piecing on a diagonal. "Do You Know Green?" was strip
pieced vertically. Each of the designs made of squares, was also put
together by sewing the squares into strips.
Paper piecing: this is a technique quilters use to help
make accurate seams when putting together designs with small pieces.
The design is drawn on paper. The first piece of fabric is placed right
side up on the back of the paper. The second fabric is placed right sides
together with the first fabric. A seam is sewn following the line on the
paper. The second fabric is folded back, trimmed, and then the third
fabric is placed right sides together on the previous fabrics. The
second seam is sewn, folded open, and so on. The design has to be created
so that each seam is a straight line, and the pieces must be put together
in a specific order. For complex designs several parts may be assembled
and then sewn together.
The snowman, bird, pumpkin and butterfly in the
"Pieces" quilt were done this way and then sewn into the pattern of half-square
triangles. The cows in "Noontime" were also done this way.
"Ballet", "Winter Sunshine" and "Magic Show" were done completely with paper
piecing, as was "Good Heavens", which was paper pieced in strips. When the
top is all sewn the paper is torn off the back.
This technique is also called "foundation piecing"
or "flip-and-sew" and can be done using such materials as light weight muslin
or used fabric softener sheets from the dryer rather than paper. For more
detailed instructions on how this is done see the How To
Section of the World Wide Quilting Page
Colorwash or watercolor piecing: this is a popular technique
in which pieces of fabric, usually squares, are cut from many different prints
and arranged in such a way that the color and values change from one part
of the quilt to another to create the design. This is the technique
used in the background for "Pieces", "Good Heavens", the winter tree pair,
the floral pages and all three quilts about autumn leaves. The landscape
for "Noontime" and "Rock and Roll" was also done using the color wash method.
It was the beauty of watercolor quilts that first attracted me to quilting
as a method of illustrating my poems.
Patchwork: another name for piecing.
Appliqué: to sew small pieces of cut fabric onto a
larger piece in a decorative design. The illustration for "Take Out"
is appliquéd. The pair of summer flower illustrations are first
pieced, then I appliquéd hummingbirds and flowers cut from printed
fabrics on top of the pieced squares. The winter tree branches for
the "Silhouettes" and "Shadows" illustrations were also appliquéd over
Quilt: to sew layers of fabric together in stitched lines
or patterns, usually with a layer of padding between. Quilting can be done
by hand or machine. Quilt tops can be whole cloth, pieced, or appliquéd.
A bed covering or other decorative article made in this way is called a quilt.
Quilting can be done in various ways. It can follow
the design of the pieced or appliquéd top or create a counterpoint
design, adding to the dimensionality of the quilt. For the pastoral
scene in "Noontime" and "Rock and Roll", as well as in "Ballet" and "Take
Out" I basically followed the lines of the pieced design adding some extra
quilted lines in the sky suggestive of clouds, or air movement.
In the flower border design for "Nose Knows" and "Mirage" I quilted around
the colorful flowers and then added diagonal lines suggestive of an arbor.
For "Encore" and "Misplaced" I created more hummingbirds with the quilt lines
in the white spaces, while using quilting to emphasize the dimensionality
of the flowers in the colorful garden. In "Ode to a Rake" and
"Scarlet Gowns" the pieced design is abstract, suggestive of leaves on the
trees and falling to the ground. I counter-pointed this abstraction
with the figurative leaves outlined by the machine quilted stitches.
Quilting in-the-ditch: stitches are made in the seam lines between the pieces. In this technique the stitches barely show, but create a puffiness emphasizing the design of the pieced top. I used in-the-ditch quilting along each tree trunk in the illustration for "Do You Know Green?", then emphasized the sun's rays by quilting diagonal lines behind them. For "Take Out" I quilted in-the-ditch around the wrens, branches, and leaves to make them more three dimensional. Both of these illustrations were quilted by hand.
Echo quilting: Stitching is done around an element of the
design, and then repeated as ripples on a pond. For "In March" and
"Just When I Thought" I created the child in the center of each illustration
with a quilt line and then echoed that out to the edges. These illustrations
are quilted by machine.
Stippling: The quilt stitching is done in a continuous
randomly curving line, not crossing itself, but closely covering the area.
This creates a relatively flat, stiff area on the quilt. The center and border
of the winter tree illustrations are stippled by machine. The border on "Do
You Know Green?" was stippled by hand to correspond with the great amount
of quilting in the picture. The illustration would not lie flat otherwise.
|A Little bit of History...
Quilted clothing can be seen in Egyptian art dating back to 3000 BC. In medieval Europe quilted cloth was part of a soldier's armor, and in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries quilted clothing was fashionable in Europe. The bed quilt seems to have gotten its start in the mid-seventeen hundreds in Holland and England, and was brought to America by immigrants.
After beginning as an art-form for upper-class women who used
the leftover scraps from their fancy dresses, piecing and quilting spread
to poorer women who used scraps from their rag-bags. New bed quilts
made use of the edges of worn sheets, blankets, and old clothing, and
were a necessity for winter warmth. They were also a form of self-expression,
some telling family histories or Bible stories, and since women often gathered
to work on a quilt together, provided occasion for socializing.
Today quilting is very popular in this country, with many people
involved in making bed-quilts, lap-quilts, wall-hangings, wearable quilts,
quilted bags and articles of many kinds. Some use traditional methods
and designs while others express themselves in new and innovative ways.
Everywhere across the country quilters gather in classes, small groups, large
guilds, and regional and national shows to share their passion for this centuries
old art form.
Note: The historical information from Egypt to "rag-bags" came
from Quilts ...A Living Tradition, by Robert Shaw, published by Hugh
Lauter Levin Associates, Inc., 1995. The rest I know from many sources
and personal experience.