Posted in colorwork, quilting

Inspiration, Gestation, Implementation

INSPIRATION: The idea for creating a fiber object based on the Gateway Arch has been rattling around in my brain for some time. It really started way back in 2012, after my husband and I visited the Gateway to the West museum in St. Louis. At that time, he took a series of photographs showing every possible angle of the Arch at ground level. They are rather remarkable, taken as a group. Here is an example.

Earlier this year, I asked for copies of these images and began to imagine how a series of different views would look on quilt blocks. I printed out nine pictures and pushed them around against each other. In the end, I shelved the project. I decided that I really lacked the necessary technical skills to realize my idea.

GESTATION: Over the summer I completed several on-line quilting lessons and actually made a quilt based on my own design. I now feel ready to tackle the Arch project. So yesterday I pulled the photos back out and arranged them into a nine-block design with a look that pleased me. It took me hours to get it right.

IMPLEMENTATION: Dear me. Thinking about the many steps required to move a quilting project from the idea stage through to completion is giving me pause. Let’s take stock of where I am so far:

  • I have a design and a layout, pictured above. Each image represents one block at 1/3 scale. I’ve decided that I will need a paper template for each arch image, in order to draw and cut it accurately from the background material. For this task, I have located a pad of giant post-it notes. From it I have cut nine pieces that are 14 and 1/2 inches square.
  • Block Content: Each block will consist of 16 squares with a finished size of 3 1/2 inches. The flowing arch will be cut free-hand into the sewn blocks and inserted.
  • Colors: There will be three background colors in hand painted fabrics, moving from left to right they are purple, blue-purple, and blue. The arch section which winds through each block will be made of golden-orange-pink fabric. Here are some samples that I made earlier this year.
  • Other design decisions yet to be made: sashing or no sashing, type and number of borders, backing. While I plan to quilt it myself, I haven’t decided on a pattern yet.

Next steps seem to be

  • Draw to scale the templates for each block
  • Determine yardage needed for quilt top and purchase fabric
  • Cut fabric into manageable strips
  • Hand dye strips according to design plan
  • Cut out the squares
  • Practice cutting free-style curves.

A wise woman said, the journey of a thousand stitches begins with one thread.

Posted in quilting

Piecing Free-Form: Abstract Sunflowers

I have spent several hours this week-end on the sunflower design that I started Friday. In addition to time spent it also cost me one drop of blood and one band-aid, when I got my first rotary cutter cut. On the plus side I gained a lot of experience and realized my design. Here are the blocks all pieced together.

Everything is free-form pieced, except for the small green shape that joins the sunflower head to the stem. These were appliqued. You can probably see that the green fabric has stretched out of shape. This fabric was just too light weight for the purpose. Next I used the dark grey fabric to sew on a 2 inch sash.

While I admit that the final product has a certain home-spun charm to it, I’m not in love with it. I do plan to keep working on it though. I’ll add a fleece and a backing and quilt it. But not right away. I need a break from quilting.

Posted in recycling, sewing

Wabi Sabi

A Japanese philosophy that has been around since the 15th century, wabi-sabi is all about finding beauty in imperfection. It means keeping your old stuff, especially if you really love it. A few high quality garments are more valuable than a bunch of new, poorly constructed items of inferior fabric. Sometimes a few minor repairs will keep your treasured frock in circulation. It’s really okay if the repairs are visible.

When I was explaining this concept to my daughter a few months ago, she said that she had just the thing for a wabi-sabi treatment. What she brought me was a silk blouse, in a muted print of neutrals that had become worn and torn. She said that she wore it often, but no longer, due to rips and thin places in the silk. Could I do something with it?

I wish I had taken a photo of the blouse as she handed it to me, but alas, I did not. Here is what the garment looked like after I had cut out the damaged sections.

Three months have passed since I gained possession. This morning, I decided it was time. Last year I had purchased a largish silk blouse in similar colors at a thrift store for a few dollars. This might be a good source of fabric for the wabi-sabi blouse.

My plan is to cut this blouse lengthwise along the stripes, and use the pieces to rebuild the yoke of daughter’s blouse. Here is a sample of the fabric.

And here is a sketch of my intended alterations.

Without a pattern, I set about cutting and sewing, cutting and sewing. First I made some strips from the thrift store blouse and used them to create a band at the underarm area. This was stabilized with ultra-light weight fusible interfacing. Next I cut two triangles from the front of daughter’s blouse and trimmed the edges with black silk. These pieces were then sewn to the band. A few alterations to the back also included black silk edging.

It’s the end of the day, and here is a photograph of the wabi-sabi blouse.

Progress is good. If all goes well tomorrow, I will finish the structure, make a buttonhole, sew the buttons back on, and maybe add some decorative elements.