This post comes to you from a dull, wet and windy Scotland this week which means the cats are huddled up on the sofa and the ducks are gleefully stomping around in mud. Eeeew! Lovely weather for ducks it may be but not for duck owners!
Today I have another, perhaps easier, way of achieving an abstract type design in EPP than the one in my last post. The idea came from a workshop with the textile artist Richard McVetis but I have adapted it for use with English Paper Piecing.
The first thing you need to do is to select an image with some striking lines, like a building taken at an unusual angle. I chose this photo of a castle in central Scotland that my husband and I lived and worked for a year. You can just imagine Rapunzel at one of those top windows, can’t you?
Try cutting out two L shaped pieces from scrap paper to use as a viewfinder and move them around your image to find a suitable composition. I am told that this gets easier with practice; that you know eventually know what to look for.
Now edit and reduce your image to a few basic shapes. If there is some play of light and shadow in your image, so much the better. It will help you add tone and value when you come to choosing your fabrics. For this experiment aim for a finished piece of about 8″ square, which may mean you have to enlarge the chosen part of your image
Next, put a piece of tracing paper over your image and trace the shapes you want to work with. Keep them simple. You don’t want a whole bunch of complicated shapes. Leave out shapes like windows if it suits you to do so. Or appliqué them in later. You may want to use some low tack masking tape to keep your tracing paper and card steady.
Now put a piece of card under the paper and some carbon paper in between them to transfer the image. Alternatively, pencil over the lines on the reverse of the tracing paper against some scrap paper and then flip back to the right side and go over them again on top of the card. The pencilled lines should be visible on the card. If they are very faint, pencil over them to make them clearer.
Mark each piece with F for Front if you like your image this way round. You will see that I marked mine with B for back because I decided I would prefer to flip mine over to create mirror image of the design. (The dotted lines are the battlements, which I thought I might outline later with running stitch. Or not.)
Now is the time to cut out all the pattern pieces from the card and reassemble them into your original image. The image below is what it looked like when I flipped it over. I preferred the way the viewers eye is taken from the bottom left to the top right which didn’t work the other way around. (The letters specify front left, front right or front middle, so that I wouldn’t get my pieces confused.)
Now choose your fabrics and wrap each piece of your puzzle in your chosen fabric, reassemble them, and stitch them all together.
I used all cotton fabrics but you can use other types of fabric as long as they are not too heavy. If you limit your colours to just a few and make sure they are not too contrasting you will get a more modern, cohesive look. The same thing applies if you plan to so some surface stitching. Keep it simple.
This is what my English Paper Pieced, mirror imaged, section of the castle looks like now that the pieces have been wrapped in fabric, basted and reassembled. Some of it has been stitched together but I still have a bit more to do (the solid turquoise panel needs stitching to the striped area) before I can take out all the basting/tacking stitches.
Ok, so it’s nothing amazing; like looking up at the wall of a lighthouse. But it’s just an experiment, a learning exercise. There is a certain skill in choosing an image that lends itself to an interesting combination of shapes and in choosing just the right fabrics for those shapes. And that comes with practice. I have seen some fabulous work created using this technique, especially one of a spiral staircase, but those pieces were fused to a background rather than English Paper Pieced. Of course you could do it that way, too.
To finish I am going to add some surface stitching to the design and perhaps a little appliqué and see what difference that will make. I might even flip it on its head and see if it I like it better upside down. My husband and I are on our own this Christmas, so I am sure there will be a little time for stitching. I’ll catch up with you in a few weeks and show you how it turned out.
In the meantime, Happy Christmas Everyone! Take care of yourselves. Bye for now and see you in the New Year.