I confess that this was not my first piece of work for this section on the applied fabric techniques but it is the one that was the attempt at conventional appliqué. This is actually a new technique for me as I have not really worked on layering fabrics before, quilting or any such project. Consequently, I was a bit reluctant to start and it took effort for me to make myself be tied down. As a result of this reluctance toward precise and accurate skills, I expanded my approach and spent a lot of time to individualise this applique! I used my collage sketch of a sunflower from earlier studies as a basis, and layered together hessian, yellow and green cottons to match. (forgot to take photo). This looked too basic, so I decided to take some golden sage satin cotton and print it with leaves and stems from sunflowers in my garden
I found the result fine, but actually wanted to give the effect of the sunshine in the garden so the base fabric needed softening and given a suffused colour. I therefore used bondaweb to fix a gold silk organza to the cotton.
I chose to use silk for the petals, so painted white silk with yellow paint and gold highlights. These I then embellished with a couched yellow embroidery cotton with a bronze metallic yarn. ( I forgot to take photos of the stages here, annoying!!).
I cut out a hessian circle for the flower centre and wanted textures and colours. I formed circles with twine, raffia, beads, bronze metallic yarn and then yellow embroidery pearlised thread. This is my favourite part of the piece altogether!
I used bondaweb to fuse and position the petals and then machine stitched into place. Then sewed the centre into place
The story of my applique sunflower was not finished, however. I was not happy with the organza effect as a background. I found it too hazy and loose, in comparison with the fixed nature of the flower itself. I tried heating the layers again. When I used extreme heat from the iron, I achieved a crinkled effect which I love as it gives an impression of wood, bark, layers of foliage. However, then I left the iron on too long and burnt off a corner of the organza! Whoops. Out came my soldering iron and I thought I would trace through the background areas and try melting the organza that way. Hmmm I managed to blow that up! So I have decided to leave well alone and move onto another piece.
Lessons learnt in particular: the outcome was quite different to my early ideas. The silk against the cotton and organza was soft and changed the impact. Sunflowers are usually seen as strong and dynamic. My end result is soft and diffused because of the way I changed and worked with the fabric choices and the developing effect of the layers. It was experimental. I learnt not to use my iron for heating at high temperatures! If I had used yellow cotton fabric for the petals the outcome would have been very different, but my choice of hand painted silk also allowed experimenting with the organzas.
I do not like the static nature of the applique, the way the petals are sewn down and everything is fixed in place. It creates a flat image. My vision of the flower is of depth and texture, but this process pins it down. I wanted to fray the edges of the petals, pull threads. I also do not like the way the bondaweb flattened the petals and offered some wrinkles into the texture. However, I started this piece to work on a simple applique process so had to leave it at this. These are just my reviews of the process and I must move on. It is not my end piece and I have lots more to experiment with! On the other hand, I do quite like it on the whole.