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A “Glass” Act–Using Transparent Fabrics in Quilts

I always like starting my posts with flowers, especially “quilt-able” ones.

A few posts ago, Darra gave us a rundown on texture depicted in printed fabric. (I learned a lot BTW.) In this edition of our June texture-themed features I’m going to switch things up a bit and look at the opposite end of the textural spectrum.

What do you think about sleek, slippery, and shimmery? Now I know those qualities aren’t generally associated with everyday quilts, those that get tossed in the wash, worn out by daily use, and then end their days as pet blankets. But shininess, slickness, smoothness are exciting qualities to add to our quilts, just probably not our utilitarian ones.

My thing is organza in its silk and polyester varieties. These days I’m into creating floral still life quilts that are more wall art than bedding, so all varieties of silk are fair game for me.  What I like about organza, though, is transparency.  I can create vessels that mimic slick, shiny, see-through glass to fill with dimensional appliqué blossoms.  I especially enjoy iridescent organzas and the varieties with warp/weft color changes like Kaffe Fassett’s shot cottons. Using organza is so much fun that I’m guild-bound this weekend to spread the word!  I’ll be evangelizing in California’s Sierra foothills.

Not quite a rainbow of organzas, but getting there–notice how the iridescent silk gleams among its brethren.

Here’s a peek at silk and polyester organza showcased as glass—and a couple quick FYIs about using organza:

  1. Use a pressing cloth with polyester organza to avoid melting the fabric.

  2. Choose silk pins for delicate fabrics (like all organza varieties).

  3. Pin generously when slippage is an issue and/or consider stabilizer (I’ve never used it, but I hear it works).

My still life with friendly spider–the vase was made of my last piece of silvery silk organza.

A tropical still life by Cyndy Rymer composed of printed and beaded Extravorganza flowers in a vase of polyester organza. Click image to read Cyndy’s recent guest post.

A workshop project: a posy of roses in a transparent vase. Click the image for class details.

I know my closing diverges from quilting, but I just had to share a photo from a recent cherry-picking foray with my family in a Brentwood, CA fruit orchard. Now that summer is in full swing, I hope you have a chance to enjoy your local farmers’ markets and pick-your-own farms.  If you live near Northern California or will be traveling our way try this online resource for farms and roadside stands.

Fresh from the orchard–Ranier and Bing cherries–shiny and delicious.

May your gardens and quilts be abundant!

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