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Denman Island, British Columbia, Canada
Jean Cockburn retired from her professional career as an academic librarian in 2008 to become a textile artist living on Denman Island, British Columbia. She draws, quilts, embroiders, knits and crochets, makes wearable art, weaves baskets, dyes fabric, and paints watercolours. Her work has been exhibited locally in juried and group shows on Denman Island, in Courtenay, Comox, and Duncan on Vancouver Island, in West Vancouver, and across Canada with the Surface Design Association.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Hand quilting dragonfly panel with silk thread

In the evenings I have been hand quilting this dragonfly panel. The fabric is hand dyed fine weave cotton, the batting is wool, and the backing is muslin. The wool batting is a dream to hand quilt, and the natural coloured muslin used for the backing highlights the hand quilting details.

The muslin back of the panel highlighting the hand quilting.
I stamped the fabric with motifs of water bubbles with a handmade foam stamp and deColorant Plus dye (a nasty smelling product and not very effective, so I threw away the small sample bottles after this project) and various dragonfly motifs from my stamp collection using stamp pads. I added gold acrylic paint dragonflies with a Thermofax screen. I washed the fabric before beginning the quilting to keep the fabric soft.

The front of the panel. It needs more quilting in a few areas to keep it even.
I tried machine quilting, but the very tight fine weave cotton meant skipped stitches. After some labourious unpicking, I settled on hand quilting around various motifs. I have three spools of exquisite silk thread given to me by a friend which I am using for the quilting. The thread is gold, bronze, and dark bronze and is wonderful to stitch with as it is so strong and smooth and resistant to tangling - so silky!

Wonderful silk threads.
My usual hand quilting these days is done with #8 perle cotton and a size 24 DMC chenille needle. Much easier on the hands and relatively fast. However, for this project using this very fine silk thread, I went back to my store of hand quilting needles and used a small short Clover Black Gold #9 quilting needle.

In order to properly feel the stitches I found that I really could not use a thimble on either hand (I usually use thimbles on both hands to save my finger tips from punctures, and a rubber finger cover on my right index finger to resist hand fatigue) so the tips of my fingers on both hands are roughened from tiny needle pricks. I could manage this because the project is not large, and the fabrics and thread are so cooperative. But I am also quite sure that there are not a lot more hand quilting projects using fine needles and thread in my future.

I never use a quilting frame as it only gets in my way. 

Detail of the hand quilting.

I think at this point I will finish the edges of the panel, probably with a facing as binding does not seem suitable for this project, and then add more quilting as needed for an even effect.

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