The Big Picture

Lynn Schoeffler 2012

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Desiderata: Do you remember the days when that poem was stamped on everything from greeting cards to coffee cups to wall-sized posters? And being a child of the 60's, you know, it still resonates with me, especially in the hurry-up days that we live in.

Lately, I've been making small stretched canvas pictures, and I realized that this format would be great for all the lovely fabric scenes I have that I just don't want to cut up. I enjoy the making these pieces into small gifts of greeting; I seem to need more room than an ATC or a postcard to express myself! Standing these little canvases on a small metal or wood easel adds a new touch.

Any of the fabric scenes below could be beautifully centered in a large piece of crazy quilting, or framed in with a just a few bits of embellishment and fabric, as I have chosen for my Desiderata piece.

You can also print your own fabric as I have done--my piece will be a little something personal to tuck in with a wedding gift. This is fairly simple process that can be done on most photo manipulation programs like Photoshop Elements. The inspiration for the piece seemed to just fall into place when I found this wonderful shades-of-blue background from RubyBlossoms at Ruby very graciously offers her fantastic backgrounds free for personal use, and has a huge collection to get you started.*

To start, I had a marathon hunt to find just the right font--being a huge font junky, I was surprised not to find one in my own collection. I like script fonts that look hand written, and I finally settled on this one: Cezanne Pro, which may be downloaded free, from

Next, I scanned the vintage lace motif that forms the crown of the tree, and added it to the background on my computer screen so that I could experiment with the placement of the text around it.

And then, a few supplies to finish:

  • An 11" x 11" piece of cotton Poplin, or Habotai silk fabric
  • Waxed "carrier paper" for the printer--I like C.J. Jenkins freezer paper--pre-cut 50 lb. paper, which helps prevent curling in the printer**
  • Scotch tape
  • Light weight acid-free cardboard sheets; acid-free white glue
  • Scrap wood for frame or stretcher bars in your desired size--not larger than 8" x 8", because the carrier paper is 8 l/2" x 11".
  • Heavy push pins
  • Staple gun

To achieve the 8" x 8" square size that I wanted for the finished piece, I couldn't use my favorite pre-sized poplin printer fabric (CQMagOnline, Volume10/Issue03/), because I would need extra fabric on the sides to wrap around the wood frame (stretcher bars can also be used). Since I didn't have any larger pieces of poplin, I decided to use a piece of Habotai silk, cut into an 11" x 11" square. Center the freezer paper on the back of the silk, and press with a warm iron. You will have to experiment with your iron settings; not enough heat and the freezer paper won't stick; too hot and the paper will bubble.

Wrap the extra fabric (should be on the long side of the paper) to the back of the freezer paper, press along the edge, and then use Scotch tape to adhere the fabric edges to the paper. Add a couple of small pieces of tape along the top edge, just to make sure the fabric will pull through the printer. Remove all ravels--these can get printed over, and when removed, will leave a white mark.

Center your image in the (8.5" x 11") print preview box in your computer program, and print away!

Generally, this process has some hiccups; sometimes I will have to make two or three prints, which is aggravating, but I do like being able to personalize my work in this way. Cover your print with a piece of muslin and iron it with a hot iron to set the ink on the print..

Embellish as desired; I tried to use light weight fabrics, so that wrapping them around the frame wouldn't get too cumbersome. Cut away all extra fabric from the patches.

Slap together a wood frame; don't bother with mitered corners; you will cover them up anyway. Note: when you ask your husband to do this, make sure he uses soft wood, not the hardest pine he happens to have left over from cabinetry projects--ask me how I know this.

Using acid free glue, glue a sheet of light weight acid free cardboard cut to the exact outside measurement of the frame top, in this case: 8x8"; glue in place over the frame or stretcher bars, and let dry. This may not be necessary if you are using a poplin fabric, however, I felt my silk needed the extra stability.

Center your embellished fabric piece on top of the frame, and begin the stretching process: place one push pin into the wood edge at the top center. Gently stretch the fabric toward the bottom center of the frame and use another push pin. Do the same thing at the center of both sides. Continue to add pins opposite each other around the rest of the frame. If you have a lot of text, be careful not to pull it out of shape; on the other hand, slight imperfections in this process will give your words a more handwritten look. This is where a softer wooden frame comes in--it's difficult to get those push pins into a hard wood!

Turn your piece face down into a soft, folded towel. Staple the fabric to the back of the frame; top, bottom and sides. Carefully cut out the corners of the fabric and fold into a mitered edge; staple across the diagonal. Add more staples as necessary and then remove the push pins. If desired, add a border of ribbon or lace around the outside edge of the piece. At this point, I realized that silk was not the best fabric for this use; it is too stretchy and was somewhat difficult to keep in place.

An extra touch: print a personal message to your friend or family member, signed by you, along with the date. Use the same light weight printer-friendly cardboard, and acid-free glue to attach it to the back of the frame.





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