Sunday, May 4, 2014

Stitch, Glue and Swap Your Way to a Triptych

One of the most fun and creativity-enhancing things you can do as a quilter/artist/maker is participate in swaps. I've done plenty - especially postcards (recent) and artist trading cards (recent)  One of my most satisfying swaps involved wonky, house-shaped panels.

This particular trade was the the brainchild of a wonderful artist named Dove, who keeps a gorgeous blog at We were given a simple  line drawing of a classic house outline, but with a wonky roof. It measured  6.5"  x 4.75" wide.

We were told to use it to make three panels to decorate with the theme "Celebrate Me." We would each keep one of our panels, and swap the other two with two other artists.

The usual base is stiff interfacing, ideally with fusible on one or both sides. But you can just as well do it with cardboard, though it will be harder to stitch, and won't be as waterproof (in case someone knocks over a wine glass), and machine stitching might weaken cardboard more than interfacing.

Here are the three panels I made. I placed nice plump middle aged ladies in doorways.  They're surrounded by buttons. The ladies, doorways and buttons are stitched on by machine; the trim is glued.

A closer view: 
That's trompe l'oeil mother-of-pearl button background fabric. Only the blue buttons are real. Vintage trim surrounds everything. Any resemblance to a real button-and-trim hoarder is not coincidental. 

One of my swap partners, Charmion, sent me this fabulous panel, featuring a poignant photo transfer of a young girl, against a spare brick walls with climbing cheesecloth moss and applique flowers. The roof and brick fabrics are stitched on by machine; everything else is glued on. There's something behind the figure, so she stands forward. 
The little girl, Charmion tells me, is her mother, in a photo taken when she was about 6 years old, in the early 1900s. Charmion used a lot of scans and photo transfers until she found one that worked.  

My other swap partner, Sharon, went in the other direction, with loads of joyous detail: paper stickers spelling "laugh"; a metal bird charm; mixed media flowers (wood, silk, etc); a wooden fence; a zipper, and a giant stuffed heart attached by a ribbon to the panel, apparently made from a vintage quilt. And more. The pieces de resistance are the real, usable pearl-headed pins poked into the top right roof line.

Once I had all three panels, I stitched the edges together- and, Voila! 
The triptych stands up nicely, all by itself! 
Here's the back. My panel is on the far left -  I put a vintage fabric bookcase on the back. 
This was the project of an online group called Fiber Arts Traders, run by the extraordinary Normajean Brevik. The group has wound down and no longer does swaps, but I'll always be grateful to Normajean and my various swap partners for the incredibly creative things I received and was inspired to make! (We also did a superfun Steampunk swap, shown at the bottom of this post.)

So if you're itching to exercise your creative muscle, consider a swap with friends - cyber or flesh-and-blood. Just set a deadline that's close enough so you don't agonize over it. Jump in and make it!


  1. Great post about our panels...I had so much fun and I agree it is a fun thing to do when swapping with other artist.....sometimes I miss that.....and I am so glad that you liked my did a wonderful job putting them together.....

    1. Sharon, your panel is fabulous! Thank you so much!