For these theme, I decided to explore the use of tea bags and layering with fabric. Inspired by tea bag art by Carol Ann Webster, which I had seen on Pinterest, I saved up some of my tea bags and got to work. I don't have a large variety of fabric types in my quilt room, since I mainly work in cotton. However, I did have some linen-like fabric scraps, and just enough for this project. I decided that each of my pieces should have a tree. Initially, I had thought to do a four-season piece, but changed my mind as I went along.
The first step after emptying and cleaning the tea bags was to sew them to the linen-like fabric. I did this with a basting stitch in a light thread. My plan was to remove the basting stitch when the block was complete, but in the end I opted to leave it in as added texture to the piece.
My first little tree is a short little thing, and I'm not sure why now I thought I needed to make it so small. I find it interesting how each tree turned out and still managed to have a symmetry when the quilt was finished. The first tree was cut freehand; with the other two, I roughly sketched out the tree on the wrong side of the fabric and then cut it out. The same fabric was used for all three trees. I used a glue stick to secure the pieces before stitching them down.
On each of the tea bags, I very timidly used Inktense pencils to add some definition to the sky. I hadn't used the pencils before, so I was being careful. It will be fun to play with them a bit more in other projects. On this first block, I added yellows, orange and reds for a sunset look. I purposely left the fabrics hanging over the edge of the outer piece, as well as let the fabric fray. For the stitching, I used embroidery floss and just stitched what I thought would work. Once the block was done, I frayed the edges of the block just a bit, again to add more texture.
My second block gives a little nod to "Up North" in Minnesota, where trees sometimes grow between moody black and gray rocks. Lake Superior presides, along with a few gulls gliding in the air.
The center block was the most difficult tree to come up with. If I had added some stitching to make this trees branches look fuzzy, it might be a Joshua tree, so I gave it a desert sunset look.
Once the blocks were finished, I pulled fabric and batting and made a quilt to hold the blocks. I found this batik in my stash that has a design with houses and trees, and thought that would be a fun backdrop.
I quilted it with a square-ish meander, which you can see best on the quilt backing.
Once that was done, I bound it and got ready to place the tea bag blocks on the quilt. I debated about how to attach them. I considered an "X" in each corner, or a button, but I wanted them secured a bit more than that. In the end, I opted for a running stitch in a color that coordinates with the background fabric.
And with that, my little piece was finished. I enjoyed playing with the tea bags as part of the blocks, and will try more of it in the future.