Couching- no, not sitting on couches. Although I was sitting on a couch while I watched the Carol Taylor video I picked up from the library: Art Quilt Design: Strategies for success with Carol Taylor. I borrowed it because it came up in a search for quilting design books and DVDs. I watched it this afternoon.
In this image, you can see one of Carol’s quilts that features the techniques she talks about in the video. Basically, the background is a bunch of squares and rectangles cut from a variety of fabrics — from cotton to sequined to velvet — and fused onto a background. Then she couches over all the raw edges using a variety of yarns and a glittery thread (and a 90/14 needle).
THEN she couches the spiral circles over the whole thing. All she does is set up the couching foot on her machine, runs the yarn from a basket through a McDonald’s straw taped to the top of her machine, and then down through the foot… and then she sews spirals. To begin each spiral, she tack stitches the end of the yarn, then does a zig, turns the fabric a little, does a zag, turns the fabric a little, until she completes the first inner spiral (the end of the yarn is against the left side of the foot, and lined up with the needle). To continue, she simply runs the foot along the end of that existing spiral, which of course grows and grows and she continues around. When it’s as big as she wants it, she tack stitches the end, cuts the thread and yarn, and secures each end of the couching with Fray Check. Making different sized spirals with different yarns, and placing some of them to run off the edge of the work. (A few more couching tips are summarized at this blog.)
Lastly she explains her finishing technique. Using a three inch strip of fabric folded in half, she lays in along the wrong edge of the piece from top to bottom of one side, as you would for binding. She stitches 1/4″ from the raw edge. Then she folds the whole strip out flat, press it, and folds the facing strip to the back of the piece, hand-stitching it place. This way, there’s no visible binding on the end of her quilt. She does this both sides, then on the two ends she does the same thing, except at the edges she wraps the strip a couple inches under before sewing — this way, when she folds it out to turn under, no raw edges are visible.
Here’s another of Carol’s pieces. For this one, she took four panels of muslin, each about 16″x16″. She sorted her fabrics into four piles: light, medium light, medium dark, dark. For the first panel, she used her light fabrics, being sure to place the lightest lights and the top, and finish with some fabrics that were transitional. Moreover, she ensured that three “transitional” fabrics were used at the beginning of the second panel, so that they lined up with the transitional fabrics of the first panel: when the two panels were sewed together, these fabrics would end up looking like continuous strips, so that it wouldn’t be evident where one panel ended and the next began. The second panel would of course have the light darks; the third the medium darks; the fourth the darks. And each panel would use the same “transitional fabrics” trick. Finally, she cuts one inch squares of strategic colours and places the on the quilt to make the lights and darks look integrated. Then she couches as above.
It’s kind of cool, and now that I’ve watched the video, I’m game to try it!