Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Additional Update on Last Week

Here is what faced me after I finished the little quilt for my friend last week. This piece is one of two from last year that looked great on paper but once rendered in fabric had major balance problems. The first one finally got adjusted to my satisfaction after many months of contemplation and trial & error. This one, which I call "Something Bold" has been "done" for several months, but as you can see from the braiding draped around it, I still was not happy.

I made it in response to a challenge put out in June 2004 - make a quilt along the theme of Something Old, Something new, Something borrowed, Something blue. My something old is that bold print. A friend brought it back from her father's garage sale, saying it was the only "artsy" fabric he had. I'm sure it's from the 1960's and it was a very small piece which divided up into these three sections. The something new would be the gold solid fabric - one of my hand dyed cottons. I love that rich color and have worked it into antique-looking as well as contemporary quilts.

The something borrowed would be several things: the blue undulating over the gold areas is bias tubes I "borrowed" from the stack I made for some Celtic applique on my Lone Star quilt. Actually, that could also double as something new as I was learning that technique. They are hand sewn in place. There's also some red trim used on the border that was "borrowed" from the traveling mystery box when it came my way. It is stitched down by machine. The something blue is obvious.

I hadn't planned a border, but then again, I'd chosen to defy the Golden Mean, and the result looked squat and dowdy to me. It seemed to need some red out elsewhere, but nothing I had on hand looked right. I stumbled across that gold floral long after I'd given up on making the challenge deadline. It too is an older fabric and I had just enough to try different width borders to stretch the piece into a better proportioned rectangle. What made me think the blue cornerstones were appropriate I don't know, but I felt they were a mistake once they were on. But I left them anyway. Decided once I added the blue binding, it would all come together. It didn't. Now I started contemplating what a strip of dark blue along the border might do. Or maybe some quilting with red thread.

I ran across some embellishment in just the right blue. I don't know what to call this embellishment by the way. It reminds me of a shoe lace because it is knit in a tube, but it is rayon I think. I'll refer to it as braid until someone tells me otherwise. This is when the draping began, but I still wasn't convinced. Then not too long ago, I ran across more of it in rust. I was so sure it was not the right color, but held it up anyway. It was perfect! I still wasn't sure how to arrange it so I put off dealing with it until last week when I suddenly got inspired. I realized that the red braid alone probably wouldn't be enough but what if I intertwined it with that blue? At this point I didn't care anymore, I just wanted to get it done!

I actually had quite a bit of fun working my way around the border with the two and not worrying if I was doing the right thing. I became so absorbed that I lost track of time - a very good sign. Unfortunately, it was slow going sewing it down, working around pins mostly turned the wrong way and doing it with the feeddogs down. I really needed a third hand.

I still think this piece is problematic, but better and I am through trying to fix it. As with most of the challenge pieces I do, I tried some new things and learned quite a bit. And there was at least one moment that amused me. During the piecing process, I was very careful to keep those bold squares turned properly and remember which way was up. Yes, I'd spent a bit of time turning and shuffling them until I was pleased with the way the patterns looked. I got it pin-basted (working with it in the upright orientation), untaped it from the table and spun it to fold over the excess backing. It was then that I realized it looked just as good, maybe better, horizontally. In fact, it seemed to look pretty good no matter which way I turned it. I had a good laugh over that. Here are the two orientations and I'd love to know which you think works best. Finished size, by the way, is about 23-1/2 by 29 inches.

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