Journaling with fabric and sensational stitching.

I know I’m preaching to the converted but I’m artists with attitude and I just love the unpredictability of creating with textiles.  The refining of the process comes with a little experience and the imprint of practice.  Then again, you can never be certain of the finished project. So I just begin.

I want to re-purpose fabric, I want the stitching to talk and to tell the story to the viewer. I visit thrift stores and antique malls in the US. In fact the one in my home base in  NM is now known to have increased their prices because the strange lady from Australia come to buy. And buy I have, I have a bag of old polished cotton collars and cuffs and leather gloves to use. Old linen and cotton tablecloths. Of course there are lots of quilts now in my stash.

The fabric I used for the background of this quilt was an old cotton tablecloth (at first I thought it was linen) that had been hand embroidered. It was really thin and I’ve loved working on it.  It seems to have a historical memory unlike the new fabric we use for most of our projects.



5Z8A5706However, in beginning the project I’m never certain how it will turn out. I have an idea in my head of course but its often opposed to my hands.

I have this stunning Q20 Bernina to use for my Major project and I wanted to practice on it. I need to have hours of quilting under my belt before I begin on the Bayeux with this machine.

With that in mind and the combination of idea, fabric and machine. The quilt evolved. The pattern is not my original idea, I had seen a sketch very similar, but of course it wasn’t on the medium I love….Fabric.


I wasn’t sure if I should draw all the lines in or just the outline.

Darn it, just freehand it girl. Sometimes you start something and you just have to keep doing it because it captures your imagination.

I wasn’t certain that I could quilt like a draw. Let me put it another way, I didn’t want the stitching to be heavy, I wanted it light and illustrative.  It worked. This is the first time I used a BSR and the machine sang. I can do fine stitching like this on my home machine, but this is different. It’s so different to my other sit down long arm. I’m in love.



I added the loose bits of hair and I was a little disappointed, but I quite like them now. I actually quilted over them with white as I was quilting the background, and it defused them a little.




To be honest I wasn’t sure how I was going to quilt it. I began by free motion quilting down from her hair in the neck region. Then I came across part of the embroidery and I stitched around that. I loved the effect. I added small pieces of cotton to the base and quilted those down in a few different styles. The genre grew as I quilted and by the end I had it off pat. Just stitch the darn thing. Sometimes I did circles but I blended the stitching into the circle. I added a few embroidered patches to the already quilted top and I like that effect. The quilt looks as good on the back as it does on the front. The look is sculptured but its also a Journal to the woman who made the table cloth in the first place.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Mary says:

    I’m in awe!

  2. Suzanne says:

    I just love this! It must be wonderful to work on several different machines as they all have their own personalities.

  3. Sheri Andresen says:

    You never cease to amaze, Stunning!

  4. ssiefkin says:

    Really a wonderful post Pam.

  5. lesley Hurt says:

    Love the way the hair has been stitched and the quilting. So good to connect the past with the present by re-purposing the old fabrics. I also love to use my old machines as well as my brand new one…in fact I find it hard to dispose of my old faithfuls, my little grand daughter is using one right now.

  6. bevcald says:

    Pam, you continue to amaze and inspire me. I was on a quilting cruise about 3 or 4 years ago and you were teaching a class. Purchased your ABC book that looked like bodies with no heads. Have used designs from it for a few babies in our extended family and the response is always, “where did you get such an interesting design”? That’s when I can tell of my experience in your class and how it motivated me to explore so many outlets. Thank you for being an inspiration to me.

    Beverly Caldwell

  7. rachel beh kooi lang says:

    Marvellous, and the magic of your thread painting is definitely very inspiring for me! Thank you Pam

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