I’ve always enjoyed fabric. My mother was a seamstress by trade, and I can remember she used an old sewing machine while sitting at the kitchen table, and created all of my clothes and school uniforms.
I’ve had a sewing machine since we first got married and could afford one. I also worked part time for a couple of years at a fabric store when I was a stay-at-home Mom while my daughter was in grade school. My sewing skills are moderate, but it doesn’t keep me from being drawn to those who are skilled in creating with fabric.
She creates all of her pieces on a 40 year-old Pfaff sewing machine. It is not computerized as today’s machines are, and she has a second one that doesn’t work but from which her husband harvests parts to fix the first one. What does she love about this machine? It allows her to move from straight stitching to free motion without changing feet. That sure would be helpful. In my case, to switch from straight to free motion, I have to lift my machine out of the table to lower the feed dogs, and I need to get the screw driver out to remove the shank and foot.
She brought several creations, all framed and under glass. In looking at them before class, I assumed she would share her favorite quilt shop for choosing fabric. Instead, she said she picks up most of her fabric at Joann Fabrics or Marden’s Surplus and Salvage in Maine. Marden’s makes Walmart look upscale, but it does have a huge cotton fabric department selection.
Here, is a summary of how she sews her amazing creations:
- Finds a photo that she wants to recreate, and very importantly, flips it because she will be sewing from the back
- Takes it to Stapes, gets a B&W copy in the size she wants
- Makes a sandwich of the front and back material with batting and free motion quilts the entire piece. She uses a very simple stippling method to quilt all of the pieces of the project.
- Draws the design on the back which is always a light muslin color so she can follow her drawing as she sews.
- Places material on the front, stitches from the back (3x around each section to keep from ravelling), free motion quilts (stipples) on the front, then trims excess material away with small, sharp scissors.
- She stitches, stipples, and trims each piece as she goes.
- In the class, she created a house with the front containing two pieces of material – blue for the sky and green for the grass. The green was put over the top of the blue. Then she did windows with black material, the house was blue, foundation and chimney in a burnt orange brick color, and finally the door in brown.
- Her last piece is using tulle (black or gray) as a shadow. Tulle was applied to certain areas (in this example – the left side of the house and under the eaves) to make the rest of it pop. Blue or white tulle is used when simulating water with fabric. She stitches around the tulle and then free motion quilts in large sweeping strokes instead of the smaller stippling used for the cotton fabric.
Her fabric art pieces and her books are now going to be offered in her own store, Nancy Morgan Art, 238 State Street, Portsmouth, NH. The store will be open Thursday through Sunday, and she will be sewing there as well. If in Portsmouth, you might want to at least peek in the window.
I have my material bought to try a barn, but haven’t progressed from there. Gardening has kept me busy, but I may have an opportunity today and tomorrow since it is raining here. I’m stretching my sewing skills here, but that won’t keep me from trying. 🙂