Moving on and Singing a Song

Progress report on Mt. Pleasant walkability map: The mosaic is finished. The marshy areas are indicated with a randomly placed machine embroidered stitch. Yet to be sewn is a motif for the golf course (good idea from classmates at Canadian Embroiderers Guild) and the bias circle around the highlighted area. I am working on design of the legend, will prepare it separately, and appliqué it.

Do Re Mi quilt: The mock up of the melody line is complete, measuring almost 13’. Thus far, I have been using music and lyrics available on the web but have noted discrepancies in the musical notation and spelling of the lyrics (“dear” not “deer” for example); in future I will be using published versions of the song in books from the library! I have sought expert advice on musical notation from our film-score writing nephew; doubtless he will be amused at the simplicity of my questions!

Meanwhile I have been on the hunt for ways and means of making the notes on fabric: Stamps, appliqué, embroidery. There are surprisingly few resources for any of those techniques; size and flexibility of use are the two main issues with any approach; many of the motifs are a cluster for decorative purposes. AccuQuilt has a die that yields the right size notes and I have a friend who has the GO cutter; maybe I could twist her arm to use the machine and add to her die collection? Last night I experimented with some built in embroidery motifs which might do the trick; the bulb of the notes would be comprised of back to back satin stitched crescents yielding a blob about 18mm deep. I am wondering why these motifs do not end up the same size, whether you sew in two directions or in one by mirror imaging.

Goals for the week:

1. Complete the walkability map except for applying it to batting (which I will do when it gets to SC).

2. Check the lyrics and music of the mock up against published versions of “Do Re Mi”. Make a mock up for lyrics embedded in the staff (Note: Technically this contravenes the definition of a moebius loop as words are uni-directional).


Still working on walkability map in order to have reasonable progress when I go to CEG, London tomorrow. One question is how to complete certain areas outside the focus and I hope to get some ideas on that. The mosaic bits are being fastened down with Aleene’s Tacky Glue (look for the bottle with the lid the same size of the bottle so that the glue can be stored point down); I do not anticipate sewing these pieces down.

Book: Freestyle Machine Embroidery: Techniques and Inspiration for Fiber Art by Carol Shinn, Interweave Press.

The book was published in 2009 but is new to me. Shinn covers the mechanics of free machine embroidery very clearly, probably better than anyone since a little book by D.J. Bennett. It seems that Shinn’s main interest is in creating fabric from heavy stitching on wash away stabilizer, blending threads to create “new colours.” She renders portraits using this technique, among other things. The discussion of combining threads is informative. For me, the best part of the book is the gallery of work by various artists, many of whom have taught at CEG. This collection is a rich source of ideas.

Goals for the coming week

1. Continue work on walkability map if necessary.

2. Trials of approaches to music notes

Proof of Concept

So with many trials and much tribulation, I finally printed out the sketches on poplin and affixed them to the strip map using Wonder Under. The bond does not seem particularly secure—maybe because of acrylic paint on the surface (there in an attempt to enhance the picture with the organza print outs) or the course nature of the canvas? Because I had no black bias tape and considering the overall quality of this effort, I finished the edge with satin stitching (using the Bernina 2A overedge foot). Call this product proof of concept! Overall, I would say that this needs more pictures or needs to be shorter. There is a long length comprised of mountains without particular features (just like the drive itself).

As I mentioned before, I have had great difficulty in printing out these sketches at the right size—and in this case, with enough intensity, even with printer set at max. It did help to create a “canvas” of the intended size to draw on; the canvas expands to the full screen of the tablet which makes drawing easy. Getting the right size pen tip isn’t quite so obvious. More experimentation required!! Another snafu was that I couldn’t print out the sketches on one page except by cutting and pasting to create one page. The directions on how to print things on one page on the Mac just didn’t work. Maybe somebody with a Mac knows how to do this?

Moving on, I have sketched the full walkability map and am working on the target area. Have assembled gray fabrics to surround that area. Google maps will help identify areas with houses and areas with businesses. My goal will be to have finished placing the”mosaics” by the time of the CEG field trip to the library at Western.

Meanwhile, a couple of things going on in the background: The bathroom reno is nearly complete (not a moment too soon) and the wall is in need of a picture! And—ta da—formal permission came through on use of the Do Re Me Song for another piece! I am astounded to have heard from the agency; writing the second request, I mentioned that the show to which I intend to submit this requires that copyright not be an issue. Maybe that got their attention? Now I just have to figure out how to do what I have in mind!

Goals for the week:

1. Work on walkability map.

2. Try a layout of Do Re Me project on paper.

3. Look at pictures from BC trip for possible wall “mural.”

More and More Maps

The Flood Map (“Formerly Marsh, now Streets that Flood”)

After the map class last week, I thought I would review the process for making my flood map of Charleston which I did earlier this year. I made NO notes about transferring the street grid! I remember transferring the grid to freezer paper at the window—and doing it right and wrong sides up (originally for another project), but have little recollection of transferring it to the cloth! I believe that I worked on the window with the pattern underneath, marking the major streets. After placing the major streets, I filled in the lesser streets “freehand” while consulting the printed map. I could be making that up!

The street lines are fabric with Wonder Under beneath. The brown streets were cut using a serger with needles removed; in order to help guide the fabric, I created a “fence” from a old credit card taped to the right hand side of the machine bed in front of the cutting blade. The orange streets were cut with pinking shears. (The bridges were added later.). After pressing the streets into place, the streets were sewn down using twin needles which made short and very neat work of that (Mary V., you might be able to use this approach as well.)

Two layers of batting were added underneath, then three layers of netting around the edge of the peninsula. After sewing the netting down, I trimmed out the batting away from the central portion of the peninsula to achieve some relief of that center section (higher than sea level).

The compass rose was constructed on a teflon sheet before applying (strategically to distract from the fact that the ocean had to be pieced). The neat lines were cut on the serger, as above. Neither element is stitched down (It just seemed too dicey.).

The whole piece was applied to canvas (like a gonfolon) to insure that it hung flat (yet to be tested). The edges were finished with satin stitch using a foot that has a prong over which the right hand zig is sewn (Bernina Foot 2); this foot keeps the edge from distorting. My plan was to make 2 passes, but only did one even though the coverage was not 100%; I thought a second pass was pushing my luck!

Every step of this project had me holding my breath, particularly because I had no surplus fabric! I was so glad to finish, and then so disappointed to find out that the show I expected to submit for was not happening:(

Progress on the strip map

I have redrawn and re-sized the sketches. I found that I have only Extravorganza and TAP so thought I would try the latter. The images didn’t transfer, so am now awaiting a delivery from Amazon.

Do you have preferences of brands for printer-ready fabric?

Walkability map

The plan is to create a rectangular map with a circle showing a mile radius from our home. I have been experimenting to determine what is the most effective colouring for the mosaic. Follow my progress from bottom left counterclockwise. To begin with, I used a number of greens of different shades to indicate the tree canopy, but this is another case of color value being more important than hue. When I compressed the value of the greens, the buildings stood out better. Now I’m working on how to show the area outside the mile radius. Applying gray tulle is OK but could be challenging to create a border round the circle. Next up is using all grays.

Goals for the week:

1. Finish the strip map.

2. Try the mosaic in grays.

3. Try contacting the copyright holder of the Do-Re-Mi song again.

Not Quite through the Journey

Having darkened the lines of the sketches, I printed them out on Extravorganza and applied to spots on the map that had been painted with a 1:3 dilution of acrylic paint to fabric medium. I adhered the pieces of organza with white glue; the organza virtually disappears. And so do the sketches! You will wonder what those lines were like BEFORE I made them heavier! I may mess around with the sketches and see whether I can improve them, then print and paste over what is there. On this small scale, it is difficult (for me, anyway) to get a bold enough look with enough detail for the pictures to be “read.” I think that a binding would be good on this—maybe black?

I didn’t get to trying the musical notes this week as I started working on a sample for another map! This time, a map on the walkability of our neighbourhood in Mt. Pleasant, SC. I would like to make it using a mosaic technique.

Goals for the week:

1. Finish a sample to try colours for the mosaic.

2. Apply binding to the strip map.

3. Make another stab at the sketches for the strip map.


New book: Layered Cloth: The Art of Fabric Manipulation by Ann Small

Published in 2017, this book. This book was highlighted in the Sept., 2018 issue of Quilting Arts magazine; happily, the book was available through the Toronto Public Library. Seeing the title, I didn’t expect much as it seemed to me that Colette Wolf had already written the bible of fabric manipulation. What Small has done is to push techniques further.

She starts with layering (sewing channels across 5-7 layers fabric, cutting through the channels, and forcing the fabric to “bloom”). Small uses this technique to create landscapes by changing (1) the colours in the stack as well as applying small pieces to the top of the stack, and (2) the direction or nature of the stitching. She also cuts through part of a grid structure to create open work.

Two other very interesting techniques she details are trapunto used with layered fabrics on the top and kantha stitching to create texture. While overall, the book does not seem totally coherent as to topics, Small does some very interesting things. Be sure to look at her fish kimono.

Progress on Strip Map

Strip maps are an ancient way of describing a route by showing key features of the landscape on a long piece of hide or fabric. Medieval strips maps showed things like groups of trees, mountains, churches, villages, streams, etc. Modern day versions show the numbered roads with exits and mileage; examples include the AAA Triptik and routes from Google. My version will show the general road direction with sketches of key places appropriately situated. I have drawn then sewn on a canvas strip the route from Toronto to Charleston, S.C. based on directions in Google maps (thankfully, we are no longer driving it!). I have painted scenery using Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow. The medieval maps had primitive pictures; I think that my scenery meets that criterion.

Using an app for iPad called Procreate with an Apple Pencil, I am sketching those locations on a custom size “canvas” 2.5X2.5” that I hope will be small enough for my purpose. With the Möbius map, I had a lot of trouble getting the sketches scaled down appropriately (I was using a different app, using a canvas the size of the iPad, and reducing the pictures to about 1.25X1.25”.). From the trials I’ve done, the size looks more or less on; what is not right is the weight of the lines for the sketches. Procreate uses layers so that I can draw over the lines on a different layer and not have to start all over. (Whew.).

Goals for the week (may be ambitious considering the havoc of a home reno going on here as well as gorgeous weather)

– Finish the sketches for the map.

– Start trials of how to create musical notes about 1” tall. Anybody out there ever done this? There was a quilt in Burlington for the recent SAQA show where the music must have been silk screened. I would think about appliqué, either on top or reverse.

– Keep looking for a place to make thermofax screens.

How Have Others Made Textile Maps?

There are a lot of textile maps on the web.  I have collected quite a few on a Pinterest page ( and tried to categorize them according to major technique:

  • Non-textile—collage of old maps to make pictures (Matt Cusick) and Rebecca Doyle (“Friends of the Coves, London, ON”)
  • Embroidered/cross stitch— ?Ruben Marroquin map of Brooklyn (Large hand embroidered stitches on ?counted cross canvas) ; Jill Spurgin (embroidery as architecture) ; A bobbins tale “Memory Map of a Route in my Hometown, St. Albans”; ?Famille Summerbelle Map of France (looks like crewel); Bettina Matzkuhn “Yours/Mine”; Jaynie Himsl “The Surveyor’s Nightmare”; Kate Tarling “Queen Square, Bristol (machine embroidery; like the way the trees are done; like irregularity of edge); “The Battle of Evesham 1265”; Paula Kovarik “River” (machine embroidered to look like topographic map); Mary Bryning “Ullswater”
  • Pieced —Timna Tarr “South Hadley Falls, MA”(see her blog about how to do bias on maps, July 30 2014); Shizuko Ozaki (very colorful); Catherine Jarett  “Gotham Transit Authority (looks like fine strips that are pieced with digital effect); Leah Evans “Set River: Lost Boat” (abstracted); Gloria S. Daly “Polvs Articvs”; Marika Pineda “The King’s Wardrobe Was Here”; Alicia Merrett “Map Fragment #112—Good Earth
  • Multimedia— Bettina Matzkuhn “Yours/Mine”; Silvia Muxxarelli “Love in the City Art Map” (map with separate skyline; similar to Valerie Godwin); Valerie Godwin  “Cartographic Art Quilt” and “City Grid IV”;  Ayn Hanna “LineScape #8”; Anna Slawinska “Warszawa” (she used oil paint sticks to get color variation; love the irregular shape); Ree Nancarrow “Glacial Run-off” (there are subtle quilted lines that suggest map lines on what is essentially a landscape quilt)
  • Applique— Linda Gass “In Transition” (quilting lines are critical);  Richard Rowley “Bird’s Eye View of Chicago World’s Fair” (love the scalloped border); Chris Staver “Time Zones”; Catherine Jarett “Gotham Transit Authority;  Kathleen Hughes “To Explore Strange, New Worlds” (beading, imaginary place); Nigel Peake (hand embroidered) ; “Riverside Settlement”
  • Abstract—Linden Lancaster “Escape Plan; Alicia Merrett; Jacqie Himple; Leah Evans;  Maureen O’Doogan “Marriage Map”; Charlotte Ziebarth “Wrinkles, Lines and Scars” (looks like heavy machine embroidery)
  • Collaged— Ellen Lindner
  • Whole cloth—Anna Slawninha (not square); Linda Gass “Geography of Hope”;  Maureen O”Doogan “Map of the Soul”( interesting border/edging; machine embroidery); Paula Jo Griffith “Somewhere Between Science and Fantasy” (has appearance of printed map, maybe because of gray and black thread); Australian Aboriginal People made of lines and dots (two of my favorite things)
  • Landscapes—Valerie Godwin; Culture Quitek “Tatra Mountains of Slovaki);  Ree Nancarrow “Glacial Run-off” (there are subtle quilted lines that suggest map lines on what is essentially a landscape quilt)

Goals for this week: 

  1. Draw pictures for strip map for route to SC.
  2. Find a place to do thermofaxes of Charleston drawings to use in a map. 

A Broader View

I have tended to think of maps in a very narrow way: street and road maps, geopolitical maps, topographic maps, red/blue state maps (I am American too).    But consider this definition of maps:

“graphic representations that facilitate a spatial understanding of things, concepts, conditions, processes.”  (Brian Hurley, 1987)

That pretty much opens things up, doesn’t it?  Just take the idea of processes:   Exchange of parts across borders during the manufacturing process (think cars), the network of transmission through social media, transportation networks (which may not be to scale—think Toronto Transit maps), location of polling stations.  Note that many of these maps would show a virtual rather than substantive map.  Then there are conditions:  maps constructed of dots representing homes with internet access or homes with jack-o-lanterns at Halloween, maps representing per capita wealth (thus shrinking Africa and expanding North America), hurricane paths (on my mind this week), refugee pathways.   

One common application of mapping concepts is mind-mapping.  I have been working on that for maps, and not having a particularly productive time of it. 

Last week I met my goal, drafting seven map ideas (yeah!).  Here’s one.

“Close to Home”


Goals for this week:

  1.   Summarize characteristics of maps found on Pinterest

2.  Draft at least 3 more map ideas.

Connecting in the Tech Age

I have been in a household of blogs for a couple of years now—my husband has two!  But why me, why now? It is about community.  The Canadian Embroiderers’ Guild, London (ON) has consented to let me try taking a course long distance.  While we may try Skype or FaceTime, those could really get in the teachers’ way, so I thought I’d try a blog as a way of participating.  It could help me clarify my thinking and get substantive, constructive ideas from my classmates, and maybe others. The course is about maps.  It happens that I have already done some maps:  A satire of the London, UK tube map, a walking tour of downtown Charleston, SC, and a map about flooding in peninsular Charleston.   Before doing those last two, I came across a coffee table book at Indigo called “Map: Exploring the World” which was fascinating.    Paired on opposite pages, were maps with similar approaches but often separated in the making by centuries.   An exhibition at the Toronto Reference Library featured a number of those maps.   One idea that came to me was prompted by display of a medieval strip map.   I was just knitting an infinity scarf just to figure out how to do it; an infinity scarf is a mobius loop, technically with only one side (if you put your finger on the scarf and slide it along, you will eventually come back to the starting point without lifting your finger).  So I combined the idea of the strip map with the mobius to create a circular walking route (see below “Charleston Highlights”).   (Which got me into urban sketching, but that is for another day.)
What shape are maps?  Often they have been written or printed on paper or skins and are roughly rectangular.   Strip maps are long rectangular ribbons which can be folded; a modern day example is a printout of directions from Google Maps.   Or the ribbons can be connected after twisting one end to make a mobius loop!  There are also spherical maps—globes (felter alert!).  And irregular shapes, for example, a world projection often printed on rectangular surfaces.  Anyone want to try making a map on a glove (knowing something like the back of your hand?)? Goals for this week:
  1.   Draw at least once idea for a map every day.
  2.   Continue to get blog organized.