Friday, April 27, 2007

Never Say Never

This is a perfect example of why I can't throw out anything, why I find it hard to give up on work that may not be going well. You may recognize this as the leftovers from February's journal quilt, where I continued my exploration of a more casual curved piecing technique using bias inserts. As noted in this blog entry, I decided that once additional cuts and inserts were made, or if the curve was too extreme, things became problematic and I wasn't as enamored with the process as I thought I would be. Some of the sections were quite distorted, grainlines were off, and my sensibilities more comfortable with control and structure were upset.

So why didn't I toss these scraps instead of trying to make something out of them? Blame that basic traditional quilter frugality, that "use it up or do without" mentality learned from parents who'd lived through the Great Depression. Blame my basic curiosity and the love of a challenge. I simply couldn't waste even these small pieces, nor the time I'd spent on them, and I was curious to see if I could make these units work together some way. I decided the composition wasn't too bad. It reminded me of paths.

It's been sitting ready to quilt for several weeks and yesterday was its day. The plan was to use the threads and the quilting ideas I'd considered for the journal quilt, but rejected to keep it simple. It was a real joy to work through these ideas, and I'm so pleased with the results. I find I really like this little quilt (just under 13 inches). Sometimes I think I'm better at seeing the potential in something rather than coming up with a complete design idea. I can't imagine that I could have drawn this out of my imagination.

In the journal quilt, I used gold thread and an off/white & greenish yellow variegated thread. On this one I used a variegated red YLI 40 wt cotton machine quilting thread in the print fabric, and a dark green Mettler 50 wt cotton thread in the solid areas. I also used the green to highlight several motifs in the print.

As in the journal quilt, I used 3/8 inch spacing between parallel lines of quilting, following the various curves of the inserts, but I also quilted some of the same motifs from the print in the solid areas. This is something I learned from Rachel Clark, who specializes in quilted clothing. She talks about "reading" your fabric to get ideas for everything from applique or block choices to quilting designs. By pulling not just color ideas but pattern ideas from a focus fabric, the finished piece becomes more unified. I really felt it worked well on this little piece.

I can't believe how pleased I am with this - which by the way I've named "Pathways" - especially since it had such humble and not so successful beginnings. These kinds of successes from unexpected places is what makes me persevere through the next rough spot, or hang on to bits and pieces that seem silly to keep.

Oh, and are you wondering why I titled this post "never say never?" It has to do with the way I finished the bottom edge of the quilt. Yes, it really does curve. I must admit I've never much liked the way so many art quilts have uneven edges, as if the maker was too lazy to square things up and put a proper finish on it. I couldn't imagine myself ever doing that. Just not my style. Or so I thought. Ok, maybe it was that traditional quilter thing getting in the way again, but it was really bothering me that I'd be cutting so much off the bottom because of the way the pieces fit together, shorter in the center (see this picture). Actually, I considered following the wonky edges all way around, but I'm so uptight about this and there wasn't as much wonkiness on the other sides, that I just couldn't do it. So three perfectly straight and square sides are sharing space with one that's dancing just a bit, and I'm reminding myself, never say never.


Anne Wigfull said...

I really like this, Sheila, wonky edges and all! Will you use this technique again when the occasion arises?

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks, Anne. Hmm, is this a test to see if I've truly learned never to say neaver? ;-) Although there were things about it I didn't like, I suspect I will indeed use this again, or at least some modification of it. It certainly provided a certain freedom that my usual method of cutting and piecing curves does not. As I always say, the more techniques one has in one's arsenal, the easier it is to figure out just how to execute some of those great design idea in one's head.