The Cloths of Heaven 8: a flutter of leaves

After a busy day off this quilt, I’m back to work.

The green corners surrounding the central circle are to contain trailing wreaths of ivy. But I didn’t want flat, featureless ivy leaf outlines, nailed down to the background and stiffening everything. I wanted something that would ‘live’ a little more, perhaps have some movement. I looked at individually seamed and turned leaves, but they were too clumsy, and the turned corners weren’t sharp enough. I needed the back to be good too, in case the edge of a leaf lifted or curled, so I couldn’t simply turn an edge under. I wanted the leaves to be firm and substantial too, to give the illusion that you could run your hand over them and get the same crisp rustling as you’d get with real ivy. After some thought and a few tests, this is what I’ve come up with.

leaf stitchedivy fabrics and templatesThe advantage of this method is that I can actually mass produce the leaves. I’m going to layer two different shades of green on either side of a sheet of thin cotton batting. That way I can use both sides of the leaf to give a bit of visual interest.

tracing templatesI’m using one of the silver gel pens I tested for the lettering. It makes a perfect template marker, and will be hidden under the zigzag round the outside of each leaf. Because it’s pale, and being metallic it catches the light, it’s easy to see under the needle too. I have 4 different leaf sizes to give visual interest and texture, which also helps to make best use of the fabric and minimise wastage, or at least scraps too small for me to use elsewhere.

I’ll be stitching the leaves on only partially, leaving free edges and tips for a richer textured and layered effect.

cropped leafOnce the leaves are done, I need to look at a layout for the bias strip tendrils that sit under the leaves.

But that’s something for another day.


43 thoughts on “The Cloths of Heaven 8: a flutter of leaves

  1. That will be fabulous. I wish I’d thought of that method when I did my peacock quilt 30 years ago – . Your idea is mentally stored for future use.

  2. vivjm says:

    Oh yes, I think this technique will work beautifully, and will stitch up in no time as you can “mass produce”.
    I am loving seeing this project develop and grow and look forward to seeing more!

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m going to end up with a fat quarter sized sheet of double-sided stitched leaf outlines. It’ll be an evening’s work to carefully snip them out of the background. First things first, though; I have to square up the corners accurately and make a template for the corner designs.

  3. claire93 says:

    how many of these ivy leaves do you need to make?

  4. Deborah says:

    I love this idea; can’t wait to see the results as they unfold over time.

  5. knitnkwilt says:

    It is looking good. I especially like hearing your design options and choices.

    • katechiconi says:

      I’ve often looked at a piece of work and wondered *why* someone did something a certain way. So when I started this process I thought it might be useful and interesting to explain why…

  6. tialys says:

    I hope this is all going down in ‘The Book of the Quilt’.

    • katechiconi says:

      It is… I’m finding that another useful process, because if I happen to think of something I need to try, I can write it down before it gets forgotten… which usually happens a lot. I think there will be more Books of the Quilt in my future.

  7. Grannymar says:

    I am really enjoying your tutorials and learning with each one, Kate.

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m glad. I’d do the work anyway, so if it can be interesting and perhaps useful to others it makes it more worthwhile.

      • Grannymar says:

        I have always had an interest in needlework. This blog post from 2009, will give you a little background:

      • katechiconi says:

        Ah, that brought back memories. My design degree was modular and included a whole year of fashion and textiles. I still have the copious notebooks, pattern cutting notes, fabric samples, etc. You learn valuable lessons while discovering what doesn’t work, don’t you..?

      • Grannymar says:

        You sure do!
        Ours was a first time for this particular course and the design element was completed in year one. Since it was a first time to do this particular course, there were no previous results to compare us with. The tutors were on a learning curve as well as the students. In the final frantic run-up to exams, we were quietly told that so long as we completed all the projects, we would pass! Big relief all round.

  8. I’ve always admired the Ivy that grows on a lot of walls around here and want to include it in a quilt one of those days. I love your solution for making the leaves!

  9. EllaDee says:

    I like the shape of the ivy leaves, as they echo in shape of the stars of your constellations… it all flows beautifully 🙂

  10. rutigt says:

    This is gonna be a wonderful quilt! So much work you are putting in to it. The idea with the leaves are so great, but how will you attache them to the quilt?? Maybe I missunderstood something in your post 🙂 Sometimes reading English isn´t that easy, LOL.

    • katechiconi says:

      They will be sewn on at just a few places, so that there are loose edges and points which are not attached to the surface of the quilt.
      I have another day or two of making leaves, and then I have to make the quilt sandwich for the centre.
      After that, I sew down the stems, through all the layers, and then I stitch the leaves on top, by hand.
      And I think you do fine reading English!

  11. Magpie Sue says:

    I hope you’re enjoying this process; I don’t think I would! But then, given the motivation behind the project maybe I would. Here’s wishing you smooth stitching!

  12. Lorij says:

    I’ve never had any lessons in quilting. I’ve watched Mother and Grandmother both but, I learned to sew on my own. I make my own quilt patterns. Maybe I should write down what I make.
    Seeing what you are doing is very interesting. It’s going to be very beautiful when you are finished.

    • katechiconi says:

      Thank you! I’m enjoying the process, and hope it will result in something my niece and her husband will treasure. Like you, I’ve never had a quilting lesson, and everything I know I taught myself. These days I’m wise enough to go looking for a tutorial if something seems tricky; why waste time re-inventing the wheel? But if I can’t find anything, I have to work it out for myself.

  13. A friend made an art quilt with 3D gum leaves using a similar-looking method. It looks amazing. I can imagine this will too.

    • katechiconi says:

      Hope so! I got the tendrils traced on today, the central section is sandwiched, and I start hand quilting tomorrow. After that, the tendrils are sewn down/embroidered, the leaves are stitched on individually, and that’s the middle done.

  14. Kirsten says:

    You could put some of that crinkly plastic sheeting that they put in cat toys in them, then they would rustle . . . no??

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