Spirit Quilt and Making Text Tutorial

As some of you know, I have a solo exhibit at the Art Center Sarasota taking place in January 2024. I am creating all new work for this show.  The exhibit will be a series of art quilt portraits in a style that I call Spirit Portraits.
This series will honor Black Women of Song in different genres from the late 1800’s to the mid/late 20th Century.  The genres will include Opera, Blues, Jazz, Rock & Roll and probably early HipHop.
Here is an in progress photo of one of the works celebrating Black Opera Singers of the 19th and early 20th century.
As you can see, I am auditioning different fabrics and embellishments as well as layout ideas.
This poster image is a historical inspiration document but I won’t use it in the piece.
Broadside advertising a concert at Oak Street A.M.E. Zion Church of Madame Sisiertta Jones on Thursday April 27, 1893. The paper is lightly and evenly toned with an engraved vignette of Jones.


One of the design elements that I knew I wanted to include in the portraits is TEXT!  In the past, I took a hand cut approach.  I printed text on copy paper using a computer font, and pasted it on to freezer paper to use as templates for cutting out letters from my fused fabric.  I was never totally satisfied with the results.
So, I recently bought a ‘gadget’! I purchased a Brother Scan n Cut SDX85. There are many different models but I chose this one because of the reasonable price and I knew that I only needed it for cutting fabric and possbily paper.
With this cutting machine, I am able to use more intricate fonts and make fusible letters like this letter A.
I watched a lot of YouTube videos and joined a very helpful Facebook group to learn about using this machine. Then I dove in and did a bunch of tests.

Here’s how I made the word ‘OPERA’

First, I selected a font in the Aspira app which comes with the Scan n Cut.   After playing with font size, I exported the letters to the cutting machine. Key point: once the letters were in the cutting machine, I reversed them because I knew I would cut them with the fabric side down on the mat.
The backwards letter in the above photo is my cutting mistake–I forgot to reverse the letters BEFORE cutting them out.  I kept this as a reminder of what not to do!
I chose my letters fabric (a 100% cotton quilting fabric) and fused Steam a Seam 2 fusible to the wrong side of the fabric, leaving the paper still attached to the wrong side of the fabric.  I use Steam a Seam 2 because it has paper on both sides, is a lighter weight fusible and it is easy to sew through on my sewing machine or even by hand if I add hand quilting. The fused elements are not as stiff as other products that I have used in the past.
Following the cutting machine directions, I cut my letters. It was so cool to have the machine quickly cut out these fancy letters.  I could not have done this as neatly or as fast by hand.  After everything was cut, I gently removed the paper from the letters.  I can lightly press the letters in place or pin them while I decide on my final layout.  Then, when I have made my decisions, I will iron the letters in place.
The Scan n Cut made very clean cuts and the fusible will also keep the delicate letter edges from fraying.  I will machine quilt over the letters to make sure they are completely secure.
As you can see in this inprogress photo, I may even use the ‘leftover’ text element in my design–I kind of like the positive and negative effect.
The lace elements were purchased on Etsy–they are sold to be used on wedding dresses and so forth.  I even have a necklace purchased at a thrift shop that I plan to add!
I also have some dress fabrics that I may add to the figure–this material will be cut from dresses purchased at a local thrift shop.  The background fabric is an upholstery fabric.

Other uses of my Scan n Cut

And, going forward , I will explore other uses of this machine, including making fusible or even needle turn applique elements or pieced elements that I design for modern quilt projects. I can even design hand written lettering or drawings and scan them in to the cutting machine! Oh, yes, the possibilities are vast.
This is NOT a sponsored post–I purchased the Scan n Cut machine with my own funds.
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