June 16, 2011

Art Quilt: "French Country Cottage Window Box"

This is a new art quilt for my friend Linda in Australia. She requested a quilt to hang in her guest bedroom, which is decorated in stylish black and red with scrollwork linens and "French" accessories. When she mentioned that she'd love it to have a "French" feel, I knew this was a project I'd love to work on! I've always been drawn to the language and imagery of France, for both its natural beauty and the connection it has to my own heritage. Linda helped push me artistically with this piece, encouraging me to try a new style and feel, and to use an image which featured an angled background. I hadn't incorporated any architectural elements into my landscape quilts before this piece, and it was a delightful challenge! It is always a GOOD thing to try new things and expand my repertoire of fiber art skills : )

"French Country Cottage Window"
Imagery selected by: Linda Ellis
Constructed & Quilted by: Heather J. Reid
June, 2011

The finished piece measures 31" tall by 27" wide, and features a "French Country Cottage Window" filled with red flowers and trailing foliage. Fussy-cut leaves, flowers, and birds, all cut individually from commercially printed fabrics, are layered to create the scene. I selected Stonehenge "Cement" for the background wall, as it seemed perfect for the pale gray bricks in the background. I also used other Stonehenge fabrics for window, as the texture of these prints reminded me of distressed, peeling paint. Once the composition was complete, I outline stitched every single piece in place, then embellished with additional thread-sketching and decorative embroidery. I particularly loved stitching the little curly green tendrils of the trailing vines! Fabric dye markers and fabric paints were used to add highlights and shadows. Also, I used additional layers of batting to help create a very three-dimensional effect with the window and shutters, so these are raised on the surface of the quilt.

Last, I tried a new construction element - a double border edging. I read some tutorials and looked at several books to learn how to create this type of edging, and it wasn't nearly as difficult as I would have thought! I guess the words "Mitered Corners" sound more scary than they really are! : ) The effect it gives is definitely worth the trouble - the ivy overlapping the bottom and side inner borders creates a new level of depth in this piece. I'm very pleased with how it turned out!! : )

Foliage overlaps the bottom inner borders of the quilt, creating new dimension:

Fussy-cut leaves and flowers, all cut out by hand and stitched individually onto the surface of the quilt, then embellished with additional overstitching.
Also, you can see the stippling work on the inner border of the quilt, in variegated thread:

Lantern cut from a black batik, then masked and painted with luminous white fabric paint for a "shimmering" glass effect:

Little feathered friends come to visit the cottage! : )

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