Tag Archives: Journal Quilt Challenge

Spring Journal Quilts done

I decided to create a new series of JQs after deciding that it would not do to have one which was 1/2″ smaller than the required size (thanks to a miscalculation of the finishing). So just five days before the deadline I managed to make four new JQs from scratch and get them in on time! woo!

This is the result:


The series I am calling: memories of home and I think this also fits in nicely alongside my Genius Loci work for college. The inspiration has been about trying to capture the spirit of place, thinking back to my childhood home in North East England. I have created a series where each month’s fabrics and techniques feed into the next month, continually building additional layers of memory. These pieces try to capture the fading feelings of a place we long for, where we cling onto snapshots of our most vivid memories.

Each piece was created from different strips of unbleached calico which have been hand-dyed using materials found in the environment around my home – tree bark, dried leaves, flower petals, rusted iron wires. These were imprinted onto the calico through tannin dying using leftover red wine and black tea. Once patchworked, I added handwritten calligraphy onto each piece based on extracts from the local Newcastle folk songs I sang as a child. All of them were then hand-quilted using raw tussah silk threads with additional machine-quilting embellishment from some of the song lyrics.


‘January’ starts with my first piece of dyeing, onto which I wrote lines from the song “The Waters of Tyne” using acrylic ink before machine quilting.


‘February’ is a combination of the January fabric with new dyed fabric before hand-quilting and adding glimpses of song lyrics cut from a larger, unseen, whole.


‘March’ adds new calligraphy techniques, with italic script using an edged nib and indian ink. The lyrics are taken from the song “Felton Lonnin”.


‘April includes pieces of all of the fabrics used before as well as a larger piece of rust-dyeing embellished with lyrics from “The Keel Row” using white drawing ink and tape nib calligraphy pen.

Now I wonder, where do I go from here for the next four?

Catching up with spring JQs

Both my February and March Journal Quilts are now finished. Yay! Now just to complete the piece for the month I’m actually in and I’ll be up to date.

February was a continuation of the bloodlines theme, using different methods to imprint poems onto fabric before stitching. This is the finished piece first with handwriting then painting, before being patchworked with finally the quilting now finished…although I have to say I actually prefer the back!



My next test for the March JQ was to try to use transfer techniques to get the text onto the fabric. This was the poem I was using and the resulting words transferred onto hand-dyed grey cotton.

As you can’t quite see from the photo, the transferred text is not only slightly distorted from passing through my rubbish inkjet printer, but it comes with a thin layer of polymer which makes it look darker and plasticy, which I just don’t like, so I decided to move away from is and go back to ink. Using a piece of practice calligraphy from my sketchbook as a starting point, I found a new font style to use, this time using my dip pen with tape nib and Indian ink directly onto the fabric while it was still wet. I like the way this has come out – especially the layering of barely / not-quite readable text. There are actually three layers of writing here (graphite, ink and oil), four if you count the calligraphic stitching on the top.




2015 Journal Quilt Challenge

So at last the end of term break has arrived. A chance for a change of pace and some reflection on the term past, as well as a few fun things. One of the fun things on my to do list is catching up with my 2015 JQ challenge, set by the Contemporary Quilt group of the UK Quilter`s Guild. Each month we need to create a small quilt of a set size – this year being 6” x 12” – on any theme of our choosing.

My theme for this year is going to be Bloodlines. I thought I would look into this work in my sketchbook…



The theme will let me play with my calligraphy work and different ways of transferring stories (and my newly named “stream of consciousness” poetry).  I think i will keep the colour palette limited to allow the techniques to vary. This was my starting point for my January quilt, based on a poem written in one sitting one lonely afternoon. This one used fabric marker and watercolour paints.


And today i finally finished the quilt! Added a bit of tannin printing and a lot of seed stitching. Happy with this one.


I also got started on the February JQ today, a nice step from the first experiments, but still based upon a poem written in one stream, calligraphy and ink. Also used some of my hand dyed fabric made using tannin staning.This is the progress so far – layers pinned and ready for quilting.


Journal Quilt May – A feast full of fish

As promised, here is a fishy tale ready for the end of the merry month of May.  As the first of my Journal Quilt pieces I thought I’d start off quite basic, and try to combine a few techniques I’ve used before with one or two I hadn’t.

I started off by thinking in design terms of what I was trying to do.  I had only just written a father’s day card (a whole month early) and so was thinking of my dad.  Those who know him, will know he is a fisherman.  Not your blow-the-wind-southerly-fishing-for-a-living type of man, but an avid angler who never seems as happy as when the rod’s in his hand.

So fish then.  A good theme. I did a little sketch of the sea floor with some seaweed and a few fish swimming by – it was very Finding Nemo.  It was also very bad (and I’m not showing you!). So I created a new sketch, trying to turn my somewhat naive seafloor into something more abstract. This is what I came up with.

Well it’s a starting point! From paper to fabric then!  I started by splitting the design into 4 segments, creating the background of each segment then embellishing individually before appliqueing all together.


1. Sun-dappled water

I made this by doing some simple square patchwork using hand-dyed fabric, so it looked sort of watery.  I mixed up the colours to give the impression of sun shining through the water (aaah). White bubbles were then added using the most wonderful Bondaweb – which fuses the fabric onto the top layer.  These were satin stiched around the edges to make them look more bubbly.

2. Fish

These were actually really easy – as they are essentially flying geese (or should I say flying fish) made by using applique triangles bonded onto the background.

3. Deep water

This was a good excuse to practice some more free motion quilting in new designs, by leaving the background plain and then quilting the waves ontop. I had thought to add seweed but decided it looked a bit naff.

4. The bottom.

Ok, so I really cheated here and just used patterned rock fabric.  Well wouldn’t you if you had some perfect sea-floor rock fabric just lying around?

Each of these segments were sewn together using a blind-hem stitch of my machine.  Never actually used that setting before and am rather impressed I have to say.  Think it’s normally used for trouser hems (though I best not tell my HB that, or he’ll expect me to fix his). Once it was all one piece, I added backing and wadding and quilted it all together.  I got a bit over-excited when doing my waves, and thought to try out another new technique: stitched writing – that incredibly fun, even if I need a bit more practice!  The geordies in the audience might recognise the lyrics…

The finished piece:


I’ll keep this for when the boat comes in 🙂

Happy stitching!


Journal Quilt Challenge

The thing about quilts is that the instinct is to think big, and make quilts that are pretty large.  This is great for showing off the beauty of a nice pattern, however a bed size quilt comes in at around 100” x 120” – not an insignificant undertaking!  Even a small quilt which just covers your lap is roughly around 60” x 60” and takes maybe 3 or 4 days to do the patchwork bit and another 2 or 3 days to quilt it.

A few years ago, some bright sparks came up with the idea of journal quilts – very small individual pieces, sometimes about the size of an A4 sheet or smaller – which you can use to practice your techniques and try out something new.  These can be done regularly and so map out your mood and feelings throughout the year.  Plus you get the sense of achievement of finishing something very quickly. Apparently they are quite fashionable in the quilting world at the moment (who’d have thought – me being fashionable!)

So, my challenge to myself for my artful year is to make one mini quilt, measuring 10” x 12”, each month.  I plan to try out some new technique or idea in each one. There’s lot of things I want to try already, and I’m sure a whole host of exciting techniques I’ve not even come across yet.

I managed to finish my first one this week for May which I created around the theme of fish. Just in time before June arrives!  Stay tuned for my next post to take a look!