Tiny Textile Sketches

Materials as Inspiration

I strive for a zero-waste studio. That means I’m a little obsessed about keeping scraps, even very small ones. After I finished the Flow Series, a little pile of tiny sari-silk-ribbon scraps remained. I collected them all in a small zip lock bag, and was about to put them away when I suddenly got the urge to experiment.

I’ve heard of art quilters who use felt as both batting and backing. I always thought it was an interesting idea, but never tried it myself. During a recent visit to FabMo, I found some felt sheets in fun colors, and realized that they will go really well with my ribbon bits.

I decided to see how well felt backing worked.

Four Tiny Textile Sketches

I cut one of the purple felt sheets into quarters, and started experimenting.

The first tiny textile sketch was meant to test the felt, as well as what raw-edge stitching of the silk ribbon would look like. I played with different directions and spacing of the machine stitching, and added a touch of hand stitching as well. I loved how it turned out!

In the second piece, I added a very frayed piece of ribbon, one that I couldn’t really use in any other way. I made sure to stitch it down really well, while preserving its wild, out-of-control feel. The fraying added movement and, I think, a sense of drama.

The success of the second piece drove me to keep adding frayed bits into the third piece as well. This time I decided to also experiment with some of the special stitches that my sewing machine offers, which I hardly ever use. I selected a stitch, and ran it vertically over the entire piece. For contrast, I added some additional, different machine stitching in other thread colors, and finished it all off with a little spice of hand stitching. I liked the result, and decided to continue experimenting with overstitch in the next piece as well.

For the fourth piece, I chose a different kind of stitch and a light-colored thread. This time I stitched the piece horizontally. When I was done, however, I was somewhat disappointed. The overall stitching flattenened the piece quite a bit. It took away the interest that the raw edges brought into the first two pieces. This piece didn’t have any frayed ribbon, and so it lacked that kind of movement, too.

I wasn’t happy with it, so I set it aside for a while. When I looked at it again some time later, I decided it was too boring the way it was. I went back to my scrap bag and pulled out a strip of dark purple cotton. Then, I stitched it on, raw-edge style, using a contrasting yellow thread. I liked the result a lot better, though I still think this fourth piece is the least interesting of them all.

A Small Series

The felt batting/backing, by the way, worked really well. It was a solid substrate for my tiny artworks, and even served well as a part of the overall look around the edges and corners, where it can be seen from the front as well. 

Each of the tiny textile sketches is 4.5″x6.”

What to do with such small artworks? Well, little pieces look nice mounted on a matboard and framed. They also look great stitched onto blank greeting cards. Over the years, I’ve giving many such cards to friends and family.

A Bigger Piece for the SAQA Spotlight Auction

I finished the four tiny textile sketches shown above, but still had some silk ribbon scraps left. I decided to incorporate them into a 6″ x 8″ piece for the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) Spotlight Auction. This auction will be an online event which will take place during SAQA’s Virtual Conference (April 12- 20, 2024). Anyone can bid on pieces during this auction, regardless of whether they are SAQA members or not. All proceeds will support SAQA programs, which help promote textile art.

I will post the link to the auction on my social media accounts once it becomes available.


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