Sunday, May 29, 2016

Colorful Crab

Hi all -

I know I should be concentrating on my Hoffman Challenge quilt, but I was just invited to a friend's 60th birthday party on June 9 so needed to interrupt things again to make a little quilt for her. If I can just get a good idea that appeals to me, then the construction usually doesn't take long. That's how it went with this quilt.

My first thought was that I wanted to do something with one of my photographs. About 15 years ago I did some traveling with my mom and I have lots of great pictures from exotic places like Egypt, Jordan, Peru, Equador and the Galapagos. When my friend and I were walking through the quilts at Houston last year, I mention in the computer image category that I wanted to do something with my photographs and she was excited about that, so I felt like I was on the right track. But what photograph and what to do with it? I was looking around my sewing room and my eye was attracted by a pile of black and white novelty fabric. My friend likes black and white quilts with pops of color, so maybe I could use those, too. I've also been collecting supplies through the years for coloring and painting on fabric since I really want to make art quilts and these things are fun. That's when it all came together for me. I would select a photograph of a flower and convert it to black and white and use my paints to color the subject of the picture while leaving the background alone.  Then I could use the novelty fabrics for the borders to highlight the photo. Now I was excited!

The first step was to pick a photograph. I took a lot of flower close-ups on our travels so I started looking through those. But I kept getting drawn to the animal photos and finally settled on this crab picture taken in the Galapagos:

This was kind of a cheater picture since the background was already black and white, but I love this picture and thought it was a good place to start since I already know that it looks great colored like this.

I pulled the picture into PhotoShop Elements to convert it to black and white. It turns out that there are a bunch of ways to convert a photo to black and white (who knew??) and PSE had about 10 different options to choose from. They defaulted to "landscape" black and white and that's the one that looked the best to me, too, so that's what I chose. I printed out the color picture to look at and printed two copies of the black and white picture on fabric so I'd have a test version and the final version:

The two black and white pictures look a lot more alike in person than the do in the above photo. After printing, I removed the paper backing and heat set the photographs so I could be confident that the inkjet ink wouldn't run when it got wet:

I then put the paper backing back on the photographs to give them more stability while I was playing with them. I'm not sure if this was needed, but it didn't hurt. I decided to use the Derwent Inktense pencils and blocks for the coloring. Jean Shute, an incredible quilt artist who I see on Machine Quilters Resource, has been recommending Jacquard colorless extender for the textile medium because it isn't runny like some other mediums so it is easier to control.

Sounded good to me! I had my supplies so now it was time to start trying it out. I started with the yellow since that was the lightest color. I would color with the pencil in the areas that I wanted to be yellow, then would load some extender on my paintbrush and brush the color around. It worked pretty well. The extender allowed me to move around the color and keep it pretty much where I wanted it, but the layer of inkjet ink between the color and the fabric made it a bit more difficult. It was kind of like painting on waxed paper, but I was still able to get the color down and I heat set it and it feels like it's going to stay in place just fine:

The next step was adding the borders. I chose my fabrics improvisationally with my only thought being that I wanted the bottom and right borders to be wider than the top and left borders. I got the borders put on then sandwiched is up with a leftover piece of black batting, ready to quilt:

For small pieces like this, I just use temporary basting spray to hold the layers together.

For the quilting on the photo, I used FilTec's smoke-colored monofilament thread. I wanted to stitch around the crab to highlight it and just do lines in the rocks to try to push them to the background. I used a size 70 needle to try to minimize the holes it would make. The photo paper has a fairly high thread count and I think the inkjet ink makes a layer on top, so any holes won't heal up. You certainly hear a pop every time the needle pierces the photo!

If you look closely at the quilting, you definitely see all of the holes, but I found that when you step back just a little bit you don't notice them anymore. I was also worried about the needle causing the inkjet ink to flake off causing a white shadow around the quilting lines and I did see some of that, but that, too, disappeared as you stepped back. My background quilting does make the rocks look more like water, but I do like the effect.

For the borders, I used the wavy line stitch on my sewing machine. I used FilTec Glide thread and quilted most of the lines in black, with a single colored line in each border. The wavy lines run the length of each border and overlap in the corners:

Kind of a neat effect! I even got the hanging sleeve, binding and label done so this project is actually completely finished:

 Here's a picture of the back before adding the label:

This was a really fun project and I hope to do more stuff like this in the future!



  1. Great Nancy it's really effective

  2. Very cool! Thanks for providing so much description about how you achieved a finish with this special quilt!--Terry

  3. Wow... What a fun and interesting project. I love the coloring in of the crab.