I mentioned in an earlier post that I was trying to find a way to continue with my Grandmother's Garden quilt, and that I was not entirely happy with the grandma in the pattern.
I came up with the idea of using my own grandmother in some way or another, and started searching for photos. I wanted one of her standing proudly in her own garden, but that proved difficult. All the ones I had in mind had either legs hidden, she was squinting, or there was some bush or other item getting in the way. The best one I could come up with was this one: There were two problems with it though: it was very small, so her features would be blurred if I were to enlarge it, and she was wearing sunglasses. I found one much later version - apparently her 75th birthday, but it had the happy smile I remembered - this was the gran of my childhood.
Time for some photoshopping. This is the image I ended up with. I copied the colour from her forehead onto her arms and legs, and because my mother remembered her dress as being blue and white, I went with that and gave her blue shoes.
I printed the picture in the size I needed for the quilt and cut it out to use as a pattern.
Once I saw that this might work on the quilt, I printed the picture on fabric as well. I used a sheet of Cotton Lawn from Color Plus Fabrics that you just put in the printer and print the image on. The fabric is attached to paper that you peel off after printing, and works really well. The Cotton Lawn is very fine and soft and was great for this project.
I used the paper pattern to make a figure from batting as well. All the trees in the quilt are appliquéd around batting shapes to give a 3D effect, so I went with that. The fabric cutout was basted to the batting with the edges turned under and then basted to the background. I know I could have used some pins and turned the edges under as I stitched, but with the bulk of the batting underneath, it becomes a bit more akward to do so, and this way I avoided pricking my fingers on lots of little pins as I did the appliqué.
Once I had attached the figure to the background, it was time to add the dress. I used the paper cutout to make a pattern for the bodice and cut a batting shape from that. To create a fuller figure, I added "bosoms" as well - just a figure 8 shape on top of the previous one. It was probably not a good idea to take a picture of this with my black sofa as a background and in evening light, but you get the general idea...
I fashioned the bodice from two pieces of fabric, one overlapping the other and the top one folded in. I then used the batting shape as a pattern to cut the fabric and tucked the seam allowances to the back, adding little darts on the side and up from the waist like one would in a full size dress. I must admit that I was having serious doubts about the way I spend my spare time at this point... However, I persevered and managed to appliqué the thing on to the quilt, adding little sleeves and a skirt as I went along.
These were made by folding pieces of fabric in half, right sides together and stitching a seam along each side. I then turned the pieces inside out and stitched them to the background leaving hems unstitched. What with all the batting and double layers of fabric, the figure was looking rather bulky at this time.
I added buttons (french knots) to pull the bodice together and also pleated the sleeves with little buttons to make them less bulky. An embroidered collar and some french knots for her hair, and the image was beging to come together.
I decided that the shoes were not working, so I embroidered them as well, and there she is, a cheerful folksy grandma in her garden. All very surreal, but I quite like the effect. I might add some silver to her hair, to soften it a bit, although there isn't as much contrast between the face and hair in real life as one would think from these pictures.