Sunday, March 13, 2016

Transform Your Freemotion Quilting Practice Pieces into Fiber Art Cards

Valentine's Day was fast approaching, and I had no cards to give. By coincidence, I happened to be cleaning out my huge folder stuffed with freemotion quilting practice pieces.

Quilt authorities tell us to to save all our practice pieces for reference, but if I did this, my sewing room would be knee-deep in snowdrifts. Most of my pieces are white, the color of basic muslin, because, of course I don't want to practice on the expensive stuff. They usually look like this:
But as I went through my folder, I found several pieces in which I'd used better fabric. For example, there was this long-forgotten slab...
...and this ancient Jan Mullen fabric, consisting of pink hairy dots, which I'd quilted  with holographic thread: 
They had potential! I cut the red stuff into 2-4" pieces, and collaged on top to make three small  heart art cards:

(They work as coasters, too.)  I cut up the polka-dot piece, zigzagged the edges, and turned it into a pocket for a denim zippered case for my DH's tablet. (The denim is from old jeans.) 
Don't look at the corners. To paraphrase Dr, McCoy, "I'm a quilter, Jim, not a zippered-case maker!"  The pink flap is ultra-suede, so no need to stitch a buttonhole  - just cut a slit.
All that was so darn much fun that I invited a couple of friends to a Valentine-making session, and in preparation, I stitched out a bunch of backgrounds, thereby logging even more much-needed free motion practice.

I started with a large sandwich, about 6.5" wide and 16.5" long, with a solid blue on one side, light pink on the reverse. I went to town with the stitching.
Once the long slab was decorated, I cut it into postcard-sized pieces, 4" x 6".
I also made some seperate postcards in a variety of colors. Before stitching, I cut them a tiny bit larger than 4"x 6", to compensate for shrinkage.
Horrific tension? You could call it that, but I prefer to call it conceptual art! 
(The concept is: horrific tension.)

Next: Embellishment. I pulled out my mother-of-pearl buttons; my new Jane Austen book fabric (from a line called Ardently Austen, bought from Hawthorne Threads, no affiliation)...
 ...metal keys from ebay that my friend Kay Mackenzie - the awesome queen of appliqué  - had gifted me: 
I also pulled out my stash of scraps with fusible applied to the back. 

Two friends came over and we went to town!  Teresa made these. Note the teeny tiny buttons and the sparkly line of bugle beads...
Here's her second....
And third: 
I happened to have a pile of white felt cupids (doesn't everyone?).  Plus black ribbon with white words, from the scrapbooking store. Marian used them here:
She also brought some pearlized round beads, which she strewed artistically...
I made the next two: 

I love a messy outer edge! I just do. (Perhaps because I cannot do it neatly.)

Along with fiber art postcards, these backgrounds can be used for Artist Trading CardsInchies, Twinchies, cuffs, and beyond! Collaging is so much fun. The only problem is that if you overdo it, the brilliant background does get covered up a bit too much. Restrain yourself more than we did.

So dig up your quilting practice pieces and cut them into rectangles, squares or other shapes! This may also be an incentive for you to use the good stuff when you're practicing freemotion quilting.


  1. Love this! I use my practice pieces for coasters and just throw them away when they get dirty. This is a much better idea. Good way to use up some if that stuff I have laying around in boxes. Can you say horder?
    I prefer to call it collecting - lol!

    1. Coasters are a great idea! Thanks for the comment.Maybe I could paint the white pieces?

    2. OMG Cathy, you always make me smile. You are so creative and clever.

    3. Takes one to know one, Ms. Diva!

  2. this is perfect! I have some old quilts from my early days of inventing stuff and ways to do it. They will be perfect for abandoning. Art Abandonment, have you heard of it?

  3. I hadn't heard of Art Abandonment! But I just looked it up: I'm in! Hmmm, I could cut up my white pieces and leave them places!?....THANK YOU!

  4. Great idea. And your horrific tension? In free machine embroidery it's called the whip stitch and we do it deliberately for the effect it gives!

    1. That's great to know, mckitty! I actually quite like it for embellishment and am trying to remember how I did it - I think I did it from the back - how did you do it? It's just for wallhangings, right? Othewise it would slip out? Thanks for stopping by!


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