Monday, 3 May 2010


photographic image transferred onto muslin

I have SO MANY projects on the go that I am working a little on each one, depending on time, mood, and state of tiredness - no point endeavouring to create something satisfying when you can hardly keep your eyes open.

I manage to get to my tiny worktable almost every other day and am experimenting with techniques new to me, or samples for one of the fabric/paper journals that are in the pipeline - mostly notes in my sketch book. I love to say, "what if ??" and not be afraid of failure.

I was really pleased with the 'muslin photos' that I tried last week that are being made into a collaged background as a sample for one of the journals. Here's what I did. I took two photos - one from our outing to Dover's Hill (a macro shot of fissured tree bark) and one of my very large images from our recent visit to Somerset. I reduced them both to exactly the size of a sheet of Epson Cool Peel iron-on transfer paper. I had to alter the proportions slightly, but all that did was distort the tree bark and elongate the tree trunks which did not matter - both images are being used more as a pattern.

I ironed the whole bark sheet onto muslin - brave of me, as Epson have altered the formula of the Cool Peel and the backing doesn't peel that easily now; most of the time I am scraping the paper away with my thumb nail! But I had bought two packets before realising that the product is no longer the one I know and love, which I have been using for the last few years; so use it I must. I had already determined that the bark image would be patchworked in strips between the tree photo. So I ripped the tree cool-peel into strips before ironing it onto the muslin (see pics above, and thought that would be easier. It made no difference, other than that I was working one strip at a time.

See the pic above which shows the image ironed onto the muslin. It has a lovely painterly feel to it, almost as if it was printed or painted on canvas, and yet is totally pliable. The next stage was was to rip up the bark sheet into strips - it ripped easily and left a rather nice ragged edge - and then tried the same with the tree strips. That was less easy, for I should have spaced them out more; as it was I had to cut and fray the muslin, but the edges will roll under and can then be stitched together with the bark strips, onto a calico backing, which I use as a base for all my machined patchwork.

This will give me a background on which to add words, napkin collages (another technique I am experimenting with) and other embellishments. The finished piece will then have the edge added - log cabin patchwork which is my 'hall-mark'. Then I will have one page of an experimental fabric/paper journal completed; a reference point for my experiments. I think I will need to attach a pocket into which to insert the instructions for what I did and discovered, for my memory is failing .... half the time when I achieve a finished result that I like, I cannot remember how I got there!

I will post the page when it is completed; but don't hold your breath, for Raymond and I are off to the Malvern Spring Gardening Show this week when, apart from doing my day job, I'll be experimenting with a different type of paper journaling using dyes, napkin flowers, a little hand-stitching and the poems that I trust will 'happen'. The paper pages are all ready, just need to punch some stitching holes.

wallhanging - the herb garden at Tewkesbury Abbey
(photo image transferred to fine cotton lawn)

Meanwhile, here's one I made earlier - at least five years ago I think. I may have made this for a magazine article, to show how you could incorporate photographic images into patchworked artefacts. This was probably intended to be a cushion cover, but became a wallhanging for my workroom. The photo was taken in the little herb-garden at Tewkesbury Abbey; I liked the fact that one of the abbey butresses appears in the background. The outer fabric is one I cherish - an offcut I bought at least 30 years ago to make myself a dress but instead it's in my patchwork stash in the roof-space; I garner it and only use a little at a time, for special projects. I must through the boxes, for if there is any left, it will be perfect as the page edges for a 12"x12" fabric/paper book to be entitled 'Grandma's Garden', outline thoughts for which are forming on the page. That's for another post.


  1. Sounds ever so complicated but the trees look amazing. Can't wait to see how you work with them. The quilt you made earlier is amazing. I hope you had a lovely week end xJ

  2. Very interesting. The quilt shop where I worked in Wyoming had one of the hot presses for transferring photo images to muslin. I gather it could be tricky. Family photo wall hangings were in vogue and my job was to take the muslin/photos--usually of awkwardly varying sizes--and use patchwork to make them all fit. Log Cabin and its many variations is one of my favorite patterns and so useful.
    I'm not clever at experimenting--too concerned that the finished product be "right." The learning curve for any skill fills me with impatience.
    As always, your projects are encouraging--the day will come when I can have my fabric and sewing machines out and available.
    Meanwhile I have the new gardens--and words.

  3. I love both of these pieces. the top one appearing more simple and contemporary, the bottom more like a quilt. Lovely.

  4. ah, this is lovely, ann!! i love image transfers on muslin - they seem to go together naturally... such a nice, soft look... xo

  5. Your photo transfers are really wonderful!

  6. Very interesting. I have a couple of pieces of fabric with photo transfers but didn't create them myself. A friend did them and shared. I'd like to give it a try sometime.


  7. These are fabulous! It's been nice to catch up with your rich and full Spring activities Ann.