Flora & Fauna

Applique is a compelling medium for exploring the colours and textures of the natural world. Here are some of my adventures in interpreting flora and fauna in fabric.

by Renske Helmuth, 2007
Hand appliqué, embroidery, machine quilting

My winter is not complete without a few pots filled with amaryllis bulbs. The huge, mostly red flowers, brighten up my kitchen -- just as this wall-hanging brightens up the dining room.

For the pattern I used a combination of photographs I took. The pot has trapunto as do the flowers made with very wide silk ribbon.

This is one of my first attempts at machine quilting.

by Renske Helmuth, 2011
Hand appliqué, embroidery

My ultimate goal is to make a large quilt with Delft Blue vases and spring flowers.

Years ago, Laurence's aunt Dorothy had given me an old wooden picture frame. My first attempt at dimensional appliqué graced this frame for years, but it was starting to look dated and needed something new. I decided to see how a blue vase would look, filled with tulips.

For the pattern, I used some of my own photographs.

East Meets West
by Renske Helmuth, 2012
Hand appliqué, embroidery, sashiko

Handquilted by Florence Moncur

My friend Lois gave me a vintage linen doily -- just big enough to appliqué a Delft Blue vase with a bouquet of tulips.

The pattern for the vase came from one of my own vases, given to me by my mother. On a trip to Japan I collected some vintage fabrics, sparingly used on each side of the appliqué.

The center is echo quilted, the rest is quilted, using a sashiko stitch.

Winter Breakfast
by Renske Helmuth, 2006
Hand appliqué, embroidery

Handquilted by Minerva Clemmer

I never realized how many species of birds visit our farm, until I received a bird feeder and a bird book as gifts. I faithfully record every new bird I spot and enjoy watching the comings and goings during the day. All the birds in this quilt have stopped in for a meal at my feeder and I have tried to render them as realistically as possible, in appliqué. The biggest challenge was to find suitable fabric.

Basket with Sunflowers
by Renske Helmuth, 2002
(44"x 41.5")
Hand appliqué, beading, three-dimensional flowers, reverse appliqué

Handquilted by Salinda Weber

After another project was finished, I was left with lots of shaded, wired ribbon in sunflower colors. How about filling up an appliquéd bushel basket with three-dimensional sunflowers in different shades and shapes?

The first pieced border, was a total disaster according to the rest of the family and was replaced by a reverse appliquéd border. I have to confess, it was a marked improvement.
Most of the centers are beaded, one tiny bead at a time...

by Renske Helmuth, 2008
(46"x 41")
Hand appliqué, embroidery, sashkio

Handquilted by Florence Moncur

After reading about cranes, I came up with this pair of standing cranes, surrounded by more cranes in flight. Each crane is made of 70 to 80 pieces of fabric.

The centre has been closely echo quilted, while the blue border was done in sashiko stitches. Here the quilting is less dense, which could have resulted in a "wavy" quilt -- but it all worked out fine, and the quilt hangs straight!
After I was finished, my daughter's mother-in-law told me that the pine tree, bamboo and cranes are all symbols of longevity, hence the name.

Oriental Treasures
by Renske Helmuth, 2010
Hand piecing, hand appliqué, three-dimensional flowers

Handquilted by Florence Moncur

This quilt began with a small collection of vintage Japanese fabrics. I wanted to showcase them using hexagons and triangles, but wasn't sure it would work until I'd cut out the full-sized pattern. Once I could see them on my design wall, I was off to the races.

I paper-pieced the centre by hand, and hand appliqued the border using another oriental treasure: orchids (although my orchids never seem to flourish like the ones in this quilt).