Friday, March 31, 2017

Interchange Applique a la' Gillian Travis

      The lovely and interesting Gillian Travis recently visited our guild here in Germany for a trunk show and weekend of classes. I promise I don't mean 'interesting' as in 'slightly crazy' but as in actually interesting. Here is a lady who lives in England but travels everywhere and makes these amazing small journal quilts each month reflecting where she's been and what she saw. She brought dozens of them with her, most smaller than a piece of copy paper. And there were all so different. Visit her website's galleries page and check out the Journal quilts section.

And then be sure to pop onto the Voyage Quilts 2015 tab to see the Interchange Appliqué quilts that she taught us to do in the day long class I took.  Last October when I visited the European Quilt Championships in Maastricht, Netherlands I met Gillian and took a short free motion embroidery class from her. I also got to chat with her at her booth and see many of her interchange appliqué quilts in person.

The technique she teaches involves cutting a simple design from a square of batik fabric in such a way that you end up with a positive and a negative of the image. Both of these are then combined with two other fabric squares to create two blocks. She has done this with vases, turnips, pears, pomegranates, birds, and sweaters. Here are some of her many lovely interchange appliqué quilts:

But I decided to use elephants. I have a thing for them. Here is mine:

And I made two. Cuz why not?

Gillian did a fantastic job teaching us the technique. The hardest part for me was the color selection. I don't work with batiks very often but since this is essentially raw edge appliqué, batiks work really well because they are tightly woven and don't fray. I also don't have a lot of batiks. I brought what I had to the class but luckily all the students were generous and we swapped back and forth all over to make sure everyone got the pieces they needed.

There are actually no seams in the whole piece. The individual blocks are put together with fusible adhesive and then fused onto the batting. A zig zag stitch holds it all together, and a rat tail type binding with a length of matching yarn finishes off the edge.

The fun part is adding the details. It's been a while since I did any free motion stitching on my domestic machine but it came back pretty quickly.  Here's a closeup of  one block after I added some FMQ details.

We had our guild quilt retreat soon after the class, which was the prefect chance to get these completely finished. Someone took a couple of snaps of me while I was quilting.

One of these minis, the one with purple thread,  is now hanging on my studio wall with my other minis. The other I sent in a care package to a friend in California. I hope she likes it.

And I hope I cross paths with Gillian again.


  1. Sounds intriguing! I like your minis, and no, elephants aren't a surprise :-) (You know what would have looked really super? Outlining your elephants in hand-quilting ;-)
    Glad to see you here! (And I reaaally want to here more about your long arm, and starting up your quilting business!!)
    happy making ~ Tracy

  2. Ha ha! You're right Tracy. I should have done some hand quilting. I have yet to try that but with your encouragement I'm sure I'll work up the nerve someday. Nice to 'see' you again!


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