2017 Journal Quilts

During 2017, I joined the Quilters’ Guild’s Contemporary Quilt Group Journal Quilt Challenge. This meant that I had to make a total of 12 11” square art Quilts over the course of the year, to a set theme.

My in laws live in Spain, and we have had many happy holidays visiting them, so I chose Spain as the theme for my Quilts.

For all of the quilts, I researched the images I wanted to use, cut stencils, and then combined them with commercial stencils to print my own fabrics.

I then collage the fabrics together into pleasing compositions. Composition is a part of making art quilts that I really enjoy, but I am less good at working at small scales, and working on square pieces, so this was a good challenge.

I tend to compose quilts by dividing my printed pieces of fabric into backgrounds, focal points, and pieces that could be either. I then grab a focal point and start building up backgrounds and other interesting elements to go around it. I try to balance light and dark tones, and make sure that the eye travels round the piece in an interesting fashion.

I add machine stitching in shapes inspired by the theme, then outline the focal points with white backstitching.

I dye the backings and bindings in the same colours as the main printing, and this year I have enjoyed experimenting with various tie dye techniques to get interesting patterns.

The first four journal quilts were inspired by an area of Spain called the Mar Menor, the little sea, where we often go for walks. I used the colours of the sea, sand, sky, and the wood of the boats and windmills in my printing and dye colours. The background stitching is inspired by fishing nets.



Old boat


The second set of quilts was inspired by my in laws’ house. They live inland, surrounded by mountains, with broccoli fields out the back of their house and orange and lemon trees out the front. The local farmers regularly drop bags of fruit off on their doorstep, so breakfast is often accompanied by freshly squeezed juice, served in a lovely square jug. When I made these quilts, I had just been on a Language Of Flowers retreat with the excellent Hilary Beattie, and so I used the thread-sketching technique I learned to draw orange and lemon branches for two of the quilts.

Orange branch

Lemon branch


Oranges and lemons

The third set of journal quilts was inspired by my honeymoon in Barcelona in 2014, where we enjoyed sightseeing and eating lots of tasty food. We went for a trip on the cable car from the beach area up to Montjuïc, where we enjoyed a trip to Fundació Joan Miró, as well as the views over the city. The “BCN ❤️” graffiti was frequently seen on city walls as it was in the run-up to the 2014 independence vote. We saw the Sagrada Família and Casa Batlló, as well as Casa Milà, all wonderful, inspirational examples of Gaudí architecture.

Casa Milà

Sagrada Família

Casa Batlló

Cable car

I’m really proud that I finished the whole set of 12 quilts. It was a great exercise for working in a theme and to a strict deadline. I can’t take part next year as I have a few too many personal commitments, but I am hoping to join in again in 2019.

Dye and paper Piecing

I finished dyeing all the papers. I love how the dye mixes and transforms quite simple prints into something beautiful:  

It has also transformed the fabric:  

I started by cutting felt and marking three more 8×10 inch rectangles, which I ironed bondaweb onto.

I sketched out a rough plan for alternating squares of stripes (rail fence quilt inspired) and lemon focal points.  

I divided my papers into backgrounds, middle grounds, and focal points:   


I then cut strips off my background pieces to use as rail fence strips – such yummy colours!


And tonight I paper pieces the background strips, just not in a traditional way:

I’m pleased with the background. Next step is to pick the focal points, get them bonded on, then stitching!

Day 105

Just a brief bit of machine stitching today. I laid out my printing from the weekend on some black felt, trimmed it to size and machined it down. I also stitched a couple of a rows of stitching across the middle to secure it, and added a couple of box and crosses as decorative features, on squares in the print:


I then pinned part of it to a new frame I got at Guild:


(Forgive the terrible curtains, please!)


Day 67

Today I got up quite early and finished the pages for the next travelling book I’m working in, which you’ll recognise from yesterday. I stuck them into the book, and added some simple printing to tie them together:


Here’s my inspiration page:


I also finished my scroll, just in time to hand it in for exhibiting at the Embroiderers’ Guild AGM next month.

First I picked a nice fabric for the backing, masked off a strip down the middle, and stencilled on some pink paint, to coordinate with the inside:





Then I stitched this wrong sides facing to the front of my piece, and turned it, so the long edges were already stitched down. After some ironing, I stitched the short edges down:


Then I made some machine wrapped cord. I love this technique for turning various wools and yarns into cohesive cords.

From this…


To this…


A bit of careful hand stitching attached the cord, and here it is all tied up, ready to be discovered:



I might give it a tassel at some point, but for now I’m very happy with it as it is.

A couple of close up pics of the finished embroidery:

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