Screen Print Animal Project Design Process

I am working on a new project that was conceived some time ago. It is a series of animals that were screen printed onto quilting fabric and which I am now incorporating into quilt blocks. This is one of those projects where I saw the artwork first and just instantly knew I wanted to do something with it–but so far, there is no design for the finished quilt. It’s one of those that just doesn’t work for me in Electric Quilt until it’s at least partly done.

I showed you the animals when I was working on Delirious. They are original artwork done by Jody at Flytrap Studios. Because I make t-shirt quilts and saw Jody’s t-shirts for sale, the idea for  a whole t-shirt quilt using her prints seemed very appealing. I contacted her, we met and talked and in the conversation decided that since she was getting ready to do a big print session, why not print them onto nice quilting fabric rather than t-shirts. I had some beautiful bright colored fat quarters and gave them to her for printing. She brought back these gorgeous prints which have been on my design wall for quite some time.

As an aside, isn’t it wonderful to talk to an artist? Jody has a wonderful eye for color and balance and art. She’s young and idealistic and just won’t compromise when it comes to art. And she’s not afraid to say what she likes and what she doesn’t. I can’t tell you how energized I was after that conversation. I’m twice as old as she is, but she made me feel so young and inspired again!

Back to the animals: No matter what I tried with those prints on the design wall, even the smallest strip of contrasting fabric of any color seemed to overwhelm the print itself. Can you see how the prints get lost on that yellow background? They are subtle, but so wonderful. They are also fairly small and get lost in a big block–by that we’re talking more than 6 inches. Thus, it wouldn’t work just to have them sitting on the plain piece of fabric. After going through almost every fabric in my stash, cutting strips and pinning them to the wall with the prints to see what would work, the batiks came out as winners.

Here’s a picture of my design wall and as you can see, the batik square on the lower right is much more balanced (blue with blue) than the plain bright fabric in the other squares. It allows the print to stand out.

Animals on design wall with plain and batik squares

Here’s one of the prints alone on the blue background fabric.

Print on fabric before putting into a block

The reason the batiks worked is because of the process used to make batiks. No matter how bright a batik may seem, if there is more than one color in it, the colors are a little ‘muddied.’ That means if using a similar color as the original print, that the original print stands out more than the batik beside it. And the fact that the batiks that worked had more than one color added interest to the block. In my mind, I saw these prints fitting into a crazy quilt block.

I finally got to put some of these together yesterday, and this is the result. Needless to say, I am pleased.

Completed animal block

To put them together, I used my own variation of Sharon Schamber’s Piecelique technique. Tomorrow I’ll show you how I did it. 

Author: Marjorie Busby

My blog is about helping other quilters learn to use great tools in their quilting through what I can teach and through finding other bloggers who have good information. In addition, I am a mother and grandmother. Other hobbies include any other stitchery which makes me happy at the moment. I worked in clinical research for most of my career. I am now retired and enjoying every minute.