Experimental Wall Hanging

After I finished my Flow series at the end of September, I started tidying up my studio. I had a few other projects in different stages of incompleteness, and wanted to clear up workspace so I that could move on to one of them. Truly, I wasn’t planning to start anything new. But as often happens, while cleaning up I came across this box:

This is where I keep tiny fabric sample, usually smaller than 4″. I pretty much forgot I had it. When I opened it up, I was happy to discover long-lost eye candy. Without meaning to, I got distracted once more…

For most of the summer I worked with purples and magentas. Now I found myself picking warm, fall colors. It wasn’t quite autumn yet, but maybe a part of me was looking forward to the change of seasons.

I was drawn to the tactility of the samples, and decided to try to create an experimental wall hanging with 3D-like texture. When I tried that a few years ago with the Tree Bark series, I quickly learned my sewing machine’s limitations the hard way. That series cost me lots of broken needles, snapped thread and frustration. I learned my lesson, and decided to try a different construction method.

Using a rotary cutter and zigzag scissors, I cut rectangles of various widths, and layered them in different combinations. I played with colors, patterns, textures and values. 

When I was happy with the verity I had, I stitched them together, starting at the top-most layer and going down.  I stitched each layer only to the one beneath it, using straight or zigzag stitch. This way my machine had to stitch only two layers at a time. No broken needles this time!

I ended up with many layered rectangles, each completely unique, yet similar to all others.


Although I didn’t break any needles, however, I didn’t feel entirely successful. Despite the thickness of the fabrics I picked and the layers, my rectangles didn’t feel very three dimensional… 

I found a couple of matching background fabrics, and began playing with the possibilities. This took a while, and was quite enjoyable!

When the composition felt right, I made a quilt sandwich. Then I machine stitched the rectangles onto the background. I later used embroidery thread to hand stitch around each rectangle.

The hand stitching gave the layers a bit more body, though not quite to the extent I was aiming for.

By the first week of October I had finished stitching all of the rectangles onto the background, and embroidering all around them.

Then, on the morning of October 7th, I woke up to an upside-down world. For the next three months I could barely breathe. My sewing room and all the projects in it remained untouched.  Art just didn’t seem important.

In January, I slowly forced myself to get back into a routine, to resume activities that once brought me joy. It took a while. When I was finally able to enter my studio, I went back to this wall hanging, which was still lying partly stitched on my work table. I hand stitched the background, using running stitch for the rusty fabric:

And seed stitch for the mustard:

To complete this experimental wall hanging, I attached the piece to a curvy branch from my garden. I’ve used branches in my work in the past, and love the way they look.

This wall hanging is now adorning our dining room, and I see it every time we sit down to eat. I’m still having a hard time deciding if my experiment was successful or not, but I like it nonetheless…



8 thoughts on “Experimental Wall Hanging”

    1. I wonder, though, if this is a solution that works only for fairly small surfaces. If the rectangles were significantly larger, the bottom-most layer might have required more stitching to be properly attached to the background…

      1. Beautiful work. I like the layering of bits and pieces, further layering onto the background, and layering of stitching. A very successful experiment.

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