Curling leaves - sunflowers in December

20 December 2011

Well I am afraid that posts have been a bit sparse lately.  And that's because all creativity time has been taken up with Christmas shopping, present wrapping, card writing, parties (the red lipstick was a success by the way) and all those other festive things that happen at this time of year.

But I have managed to keep on top of my blog reading and the other day was inspired by an entry I found on a wonderful technique sharing blog called 'And Then We Set It On Fire'.  This particular entry, by Quilt or Dye (who I have since discovered is a lovely lady called Judith from Maine) described some experiments with tyvek and other substances to create leaves.  

However the leaves were too flat - Judith wanted a bit of curl - and that got me thinking (and rummaging in the UFO box).  And sure enough I found some leaves and sunflowers that I did a couple of years ago on a course at The Bramble Patch.   I cannot remember the name of the tutor - so I hope she will forgive me.

Anyway, the technique is not so much 'quilting' as machine embroidery. A variety of leaves and sunflowers were drawn on to water dissolvable film using a felt tip pen.  Then a 'sandwich' was made with bits of polyester organza trapped between the drawn film on top and another piece below. I think we used about 4-5 layers of organza.  

Then the leaves and flowers were embroidered, using free hand embroidery.  They were cut out and the film dissolved away.  Then using a combination of snipping away some of the organza layers in part and a soldering iron to create holes and burn the edges, texture was built into the leaves.  

Finally, thin wire (and I am afraid I cannot remember the exact weight, but you can certainly get it somewhere like Hobbycraft in the beading section) was stitched onto the leaves using a very narrow and close stitch, which was continued down the wire to cover it. And, voila, a bendable leaf.

You can sort of make out the technique in this rather bad photo.  You can see the zig zagged wire (originally gold in colour) and I hope you can see how the leaf curls in this photo.

This one is a bit clearer.  The sunflower is flat and the leaf is curled up.  the fantastic holes in both are made with the soldering iron, and you can see in the petals of the sunflower how part of the petal has been snipped away to create differing areas of transparency.

This picture of the sunflower is clearer still.  It glints and glistens but there are no beads,  just the organza.

And this one is really rather arty - you cannot really make out the different flowers, but I actually like the photograph.

But then I got thinking a bit more about curled leafs.  And I have also done another small quilt, this time a proper quilt (in that there are layers of fabric and wadding) with curling leaves.

This little quilt was done at another workshop, this time at the Nimble Thimble in Buckingham.  the tutor was a lady called Ferret (yes - I am not making that up).

For Judith here is a detail of that quilt too.  The leaves on the main quilt were simply quilted and then painted.  The textured leave are two layers of fabric joined by bond-a-web and then stitched onto the main quilt.  All the fabric was hand dyed, but some of the attached leaves also have additional painting.  You can see that the leaves begin to curl a bit.  The overall effect is reminiscent of autumn leaves so the curling is a lovely affect.

So, if you are inspired by And Then We Set It On Fire and want to have a go (once the turkey has been cleared from the dining room table, the washing up has been done, the presents opened and, in our house anyway, the dog has been walked) these might inspire you.  If you are a bit unsure of the techniques I have described, do leave a comment and I will try to explain them better.


  1. I have already gone to the store to buy some water soluble stabilizer to try the first technique you describe. I will let you know if it works! Thanks for the post!

  2. Let me know if you need a bit more info about the technique. I can remember most of it I think. If I can find her, I will also post the link to the tutor.

  3. Lovely effect - almost look like stained glass!

  4. Hi Kim - They do, don't they. these are cheap, cheap, cheap organzas but one down side is that I am not sure that they would be very colourfast in sunlight or they would make lovely sun catchers. I have also wondered if they would work on lampshades. Have you used cheap organza (I think it used to be readily available in Brixton) and do you know how colour fast it is?

  5. Hilary - cheap (polyester) organza is still available in Brixton, in various colours. I used it in my experiments with bonding fabric and paper, because it was very sheer. I can confirm that it's colour fast in water, but I'm not sure how long the colours last in sunlight.

    Let me know if you want me to buy some samples so you can test!


  6. Kim - thanks for the offer. Not planning any organza experiments in near future as I have to finish Bletchley Park. But I might take you up on the offer soon.

    Happy New Year xx


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