Sunday, July 10, 2016

Dixie Saga

I had a wonderful day in mid-May at a class taught by Barbara Yates Beasley on creating a quilt from the photo of an animal.  She is a good teacher, organized and professional, and I had a lot of fun.  In this post I will share with you what I learned.

One of the requirements of the class was to have a full-sized photo of our animal.  The size was limited so mine is 12 x 16 inches.  We brought a piece of muslin for the background of our projected quilt and a piece of foam core board on which to work.  We taped our photo to the board and were each given a large piece of clear mylar (acetate), which we laid on top of the photo.  Using a fine-tip, black Sharpie we outlined areas of different value and/or color.  If we made a mistake we had a tiny bottle of alcohol and a cue tip, which erased Sharpie ink lines.  It was nice because the ink does not rub off or smudge, but we can still correct misdrawn lines.  Using a pencil or brown Sharpie (I prefer pencil because it is erasable) we lightly traced the drawn lines from the mylar onto the muslin to serve as a guide for arranging fabric pieces.

Drawing on mylar (acetate)
TIP:  Painter's masking tape is a must to keep the photo and/or the muslin in place while working.

The next step was to turn the mylar over and write "Pattern" on the back somewhere to remind us which side was front and which was back.  Working from the WRONG (i.e. Pattern) side we traced one area from the mylar pattern on Steam-a-Seam 2 Lite (this is the only fusible she would allow us to work with in her class).  It has paper on both sides of the fusing material.  Once drawn we cut roughly around it, removed the paper backing, and ironed it onto the WRONG side of the fabric.  Finally we cut the pattern piece about 1/16 inch outside the line we had drawn on the fusible paper and removed the remaining piece of paper.  Once cut we could lay the piece on the muslin in its proper place, fusible side down, where it clings lightly.  Once the animal is done you cut pieces for the background, tuck them in under the edges of the animal, and when satisfied that all is right, iron the whole thing (animal and background) down to the muslin.

We took our project home to finish (I still had a lot to do).  It was easy to transport as we put the mylar over the whole thing and the pieces that were already in place stayed where they belonged with the foam core board supporting all.  Slick!

I got busy at home and soon found that the fabric was running the asylum.  I totally lost control and my dog didn't look very good...except the eyes, which are perfect (see last week's post).  I decided to start over... except for the eyes and a few pieces around them.  I also felt that I was missing an in-between value of brown and needed some more fabric.  Sound familiar?  Since I was in Seattle for a couple of weeks it wasn't too hard to find time for a mother-daughter quilt shop jaunt.  After that I felt better about my doggie.

Once home, I was excited to try a new tack.  I created a black and white posterized version of the photo in Photoshop.  This is a great way to define value.  Using alcohol I erased all the Sharpie lines on the mylar that defined the out-of-control portions and redrew them from the new image version.  Then I restarted the trace and cut process, using the black and white image as a value gauge and the color photo as a color guide.  I finally ended up with a pretty good likeness of my cute pet.

Posterized black and white to show values clearly
Next week I will write an evaluation of my experience with two methods of creating with fusible so stay tuned.

Sew a Happy Seam this Week.


  1. Looking forward to seeing how you go with creating this photo. Looks interesting.

  2. So interesting! Thank you for sharing the process. I took a class with David Taylor once and he had us bring a lot of fabric scraps and he had us unfold it all and throw it all in a pile on the table. It helped see what blended and what didn't. The fabric choosing took awhile. I use my phone a lot, taking pictures as I go. That also helps "weed" out the fabrics that just don't work. Looking forward to see how this comes out but with a face like Dixie's how can you go wrong?

  3. David Taylor's process is interesting. He talked at my Guild one time and was wonderful, so funny. Still sorting out a problem with Dixie, but it is just a matter of finishing up.

  4. What an adorable face! I can't wait to see how your project turns out, Mardi!

  5. Simplifying the lines of the various colors makes a project like this SEW much easier to accomplish. SUCH a fun project!!