Nellie"s Needles

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Making Trees

Scrubby trees that grow along shorelines are needed for my mountain lake piece. The only other trees I had made were for this piece:

Across the River (24"x 24") - 2007
and the forest fire trilogy.
Regeneration (60"x34") - 2006
Bits and pieces were stitched directly on the background fabrics. In the full grown forest in the above piece there are three layers of complete trees. That's a lot of stitching that distorts the base fabrics. So, I came up with another method that surely I'm not the first to discover.

It begins with cutting trunks and branches.
Laying them in basic tree shapes on a sheet of water soluble stabilizer that has been lightly misted with a spray adhesive. To add leaves, I cut thin strips of many colors of green fabric and snipped bits directly onto the stabilizer. I let them fall "wherever".
I kept building up branches and trunks and lots of leaves. Then laid another layer of water soluble stabilizer on top. It also had been lightly misted with a spray adhesive.
That "sandwich" of tree pieces was heavily stitched making sure that all lines of stitching crossed a number of times to ensure that all of these tiny pieces are connected. Click the photo to see a close-up of the stitching. I used a Microtex needle and Superior's polyester thread ... smoke in the top and clear in the bobbin (because I have more clear than smoke).
I slipped a plastic bag over a cutting board to give support to the lacy trees while I ran water over it to dissolve the stabilizer. I set the nozzle to a light spray to more easily wash away the sticky stuff.
I patted it dry with paper towels while it was still supported by the cutting board.
It was easy to pick up and lay on this plastic grid to dry flat.
I've made several batches of scrub trees and bushes for the foreground shore of the mountain lake piece. That is the first project I'll work on when I get to Michigan.

We are packing up the Elvismobile and our projects and machines to head north on Thursday. If you see a red SUV pulling a smallish black trailer plastered with Elvis "stuff" through Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Michigan give a honk and a wave.

Next week I'll be back to post the results of those newly constructed trees. By then I may have thought of the best way to stitch them to the quilt top. I'm open for suggestions.

22 comments:

Quilt Pixie said...

what a great tutorial on trees! Thanks. The only time I've tried the water soluable I found it very stiff and it seemed to tear at the rayon thread I was working with, but maybe I'll give it a try again with another thread...

susan said...

this is great! i will have to try it out. i tried to print out the bird pattern and directions and got only comments...5 pages...i really like these. is there another way to do it?

Anne Wigfull said...

Nellie, you may want to try adding some tulle of an appropriate colour to your layers another time, either a sky blue or a green, whatever. It allows some space between 'leaves' and holds together any tiny bits missed in the stitching.
Thank you for the very kind words on my latest piece,it means a lot! I used both of these techniques in that quilt.I also added some individual pieces at a later time to fill in or add, a step too far for many people, I know, but worth the effort :¬}

allice m said...

I'd like to leave my thanks too. The trees look so good, and drying on the grid they look like shrubs against garden trellis. Looking forward to seeing the next stage on another great quilt.

Joyce said...

The trees look fantastic. I also tried the water soluble but had trouble with tearing. I can see that I needed a smaller needle. I'll be watching to see how you attach those trees.

osagebluffquilter said...

I love your trees. I learned this method when I took a cclass at John C Camoabell Folk School in Brasstown Tenn. Martaine House taught the class. She is awesome. Here is her web site: http://www.housefiber.com/
Osagebluffquilter

arlee said...

A lovely delicate treatment that does full justice to the subject--i never thought of using such tiny pieces, but will have to give it a shot now for my snowflakes!!!

paulahewitt said...

Nellie - thanks for showing us how to make these trees - they look great

Micki said...

Thanks for this wonderful tutorial. I have seen something similar demonstrated on Simply Quilts, but never really tried it. Looking forward to seeing more.

Karoda said...

this makes me want to try this asap. this tutorial was so well done...thanks and i'll be looking for you.

corryna said...

What a great tutorial! I want to make leaves on a tree I designed. Maybe I will try this technique. It looks great!

Corryna

teodo said...

Nellie thanks
for this wonderful tutorial.
Enjoy the trip to your belowed Lake.
ciao ciao

Clevelandgirlie said...

Nellie these trees are awesome. I've used this technique for making my own pieces of fabric, i.e. cutting up little slivers of fabric, throwing down Angelina fibers, adding some threads, yarns, etc. covering the whole mess with water soluable stabilizer, stitching the heck out of it - rinsing away the stabilizer and voila - a piece of really cool textural fabric to use. I never thought of using it to make trees, etc. Duh!

jenclair said...

As usual, I enjoy seeing the explanation of the process. Always enlightening to see the way an artist goes about creating. Thanks!

Love the quilting on Across the River and the Forest Fire Trilogy is awesome. I especially like the way the inner border sets of the different scenes!

Judi S said...

What a clever way to get lots of little leaves!

Gail Pierce said...

Very cool! course, I'll never do it, but it's inspiring to see how you created the trees!

Vicki Miller said...

I most certainly will try this! Great tutorial

Gillian Sutherland said...

I love those trees - I especially like the very clear tutorial. I have never tried the technique, but this has inspired me to take the plunge at last. I've had some water soluble fabric for a while but never had the courage to use it - now Ishall.

Amelia said...

Wow! This is so inspiring! Thank you for sharing your process.

Ginny said...

Love your trees and leaves!1 I too have used water soluble stabilizer but moved to one that has more fiber to it (also totally dissolvable)(Pellon 541 Wash N Gone) on the bottom and it held together well without tearing. Just have to wash really well. I am curious about using a spray to hold the layers together. Didn't that end up being on top of your confetti leaves and stay sticky? Once I tried spraying down tulle and regretted it because the sticky stayed sticky as I was stitching. want to save your tute and try your method! I love doing confetti pieces and am still trying new ways.Also I free motion stitch my piece on to the background with same color thread I used to stitch the confetti and it all blends in nicely.

Judy Ferguson said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to post this. I do other things similar and don't know why I never thought of the tree trunks.

Peggy French said...

Great tutorial, thanks for sharing!