Sunday, August 2, 2015

Four Fabric Forest Class with Lisa Crnich

It was a very enjoyable day with Lisa Crnich yesterday learning her method for making a four fabric forest. The weather was hot outside, but we were cool and comfortable at the North Plains Senior Center, and we enjoyed a nice potluck lunch. Fruit was in abundance among the potluck dishes, and so even lunch was cool and comfortable.

Before starting, we had a chance to look again at Lisa's beautiful quilts made in the style of Ruth McDowell.

There are a number of books for sale on Ruth McDowell's website, and so it's worth taking a look if her style appeals to you. Her technique is not difficult. Nevertheless, taking this class from Lisa was a great head start to understanding the methods described in Ruth's books.

Our goal for the day was to create a four fabric forest. Here are a couple of examples from Lisa's work.

She started by showing us the photograph she used to create her pattern, and then gave us some ideas about how to create patterns from such a photograph.

She encouraged us to choose some fabrics we thought we might like for our own creations, and then gave us some ideas, tips, and rules of thumb for choosing a winning combination. Fabrics can be dark or light, but trees should contrast well and bring out the hard line between tree and background. Our foreground should be something darker or brighter than our background. The midground should be something that is more "blurry" while the sky background should be more "lacy" with lots of white flecks that suggest light shining through tree tops. Also, linear designs are to be avoided or cut in such a way that the orderliness of the design disappears. Nature is not orderly.

Some other suggestions included choosing fabrics with three or more colors in common. Also, when squinting one's eyes to blur one's vision, the hard line between the three fabrics should disappear somewhat.

 Here are some examples with foreground to the left, midground in the middle, and sky background on the right. See what you think.

Notice that some of the midground pieces are not "blurry". However, the scale is large enough that the design will disappear when the fabric is cut into strips.

Here are some examples of fabric strips cut for trees. It was surprising how many different and un-tree-like fabrics began to take the shape of trees when cut into strips. Some were even literal trees that had been cut cross-wise to increase interest.

We were provided a pattern, and the first step was to tape the pattern to a light source (in this case, a window), and then to tape freezer paper over the top with the shiny side up

Here, it was important to use the Sharpie brand ultra-fine point pens for tracing the lines of the pattern. Other brands, including the Pigma brand, will smear on the shiny side of the freezer paper.

When the lines were drawn in, we flipped our tracing over to the dull side, and then taped it below the pattern. It was important to do the remainder of the work on the dull side. The shiny side will be ironed to the fabrics to create the pattern pieces. Any markings within the edges of the pattern piece will transfer to the fabric during ironing.

The traced lines are visible from the light source, but it is now reversed from the pattern. Next, one color of highlighter is used to demarcate the boundaries of the piece, and a second color to highlight the sections. It is also helpful to mark the top of the tracing.

Then, colored pencils are used to label the sections of the pattern A-1, A-2, B-1, B-2, and so forth.

After that, hash marks are added along the lines (to facilitate matching the pieces when they are sewn).  X's are marked over any intersections.

When that was finished, it was time to begin cutting pattern sections apart, ironing them to our fabrics, and then cutting them with a quarter-inch seam allowance. Our work was pinned to design walls to begin.

It's interesting to see how different fabrics can so completely change the look of the pattern.

Toward the end of the day we started sewing our pieces together. It's going to be fun to see these finished quilts at a future guild meeting show and tell.

It's always exciting to learn a new technique. Lisa Crnich is an excellent instructor (she's also a fourth grade teacher), and her style is friendly and relaxed. She lives in the local area, and she invited us to sign up for her email mailing list for information about more classes on Ruth McDowell's style. Ruth McDowell is retired from teaching now, and so we're very lucky to have Lisa nearby. Her class had us hungry for more.

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