Monday, October 29, 2007

October Journal Quilt

I worked on my journal quilt this weekend...what a concept, completing October's quilt in October! Been awhile since there hasn't been a conflict on the regularly scheduled Saturday. Also been awhile since my journal partner has been able to join in, but she too found she could work on a journal quilt this weekend. Will post her results later.

I struggled a bit with this month's calendar theme of Awareness, not because I couldn't think of a way to portray it, but rather because most of the ideas I was coming up with were merely rehashing of things I'd already tried. And I have a rule about journal quilts being a place to try out new things, stretch myself, not merely be a place for practice. The Thomas Mann quotation that went along with the theme emphasized the importance of this: "Hold every moment sacred. Give each clarity and meaning, each the weight of thine awareness, each its true and due fulfillment." I'd need to find something worthy to work on. But I couldn't think of anything new I wanted to try. Could I really have explored all I wanted to explore?

Hardly. I remembered the copy of "Exploring Textile Arts" sitting on my shelf and pulled it down. Within just a few pages, the juices were flowing again and I found several things that excited me. I eventually settled on Random Fabric Weaving. The book showed examples using curved strips, but I thought perhaps I could simplify things by cutting my strips with straight edges. It was suggested to sketch out the weaving design to get a sense of how wide to cut the strips and how many might be needed. Here's mine with a little addition of colored pencils

Then it was on to fabric selection. My work table is still laden with fabric used or considered for the angel quilt and my eye went to the one used for the angel's tunic. I thought it might make interesting vertical strips and started pulling other fabrics based on those I saw in it. But it wasn't long until I ran across another fabric I thought would work better. The tunic fabric got set aside, but it was a good place to start.

Here I'm cutting the 1/2 inch strips for the "warp." I had an idea that they could mimic the warp threads in pin weaving - another method in the book that I considered.

These were pinned over a piece of Decor Bond (fusible side up). Then I started cutting wider, angled pieces from my selection of fabrics, and the weaving began. Because all edges were straight, I didn't have to stack fabric in order to get nesting edges. However, I found the weaving took a lot of time partly because the strips weren't easily nesting. I did a lot of pinning for the first few rows. Once all the weaving was complete, I applied a hot iron to start the fusing process, then flipped the piece over to finish fusing from the back.

This was as far as I got the first day. We're not supposed to work on these more than one day, but I'd wasted half of my day just coming up with an idea, then the weaving process took much longer than I anticipated. So Sunday afternoon found me completing the quilting. Because of the raw edges, each strip needs to be sewn down along each edge. I tried to adapt a meandering stitch so I'd only have to make one pass down each "row" where strips abutted, but I couldn't come up with an adjustment that pleased me. I tried several other bridging type stitches, but everything was too heavy, too much visually. If I'd been smart, I would have wound some of the YLI 40wt cotton quilting thread I'd chosen onto a bobbin so I could have used a twin needle. But for some reason I decided that was too much work along with then having to adjust tension. So I made two passes and spent nearly 3 hours quilting this! Oh, another thing that made it take longer was the fact that in the middle of the piece, I changed the weaving pattern so that the yellow strips straddled two warp strips and I didn't want to stitch through that. So there was a lot of starting and stopping as you can see from this picture of the back (click on any picture for a larger view). I used the "fix" function on my machine, which merely stitches back and forth very closely for a few stitches before taking off. I don't normally like to use this because I don't trust that it truly fixes the stitch and partly because it usually leaves a mess like this on the back. But no way was I going to spend time pulling threads to the back, tying and burying them. I finished off the edge with a standard butted binding in the same fabric as the vertical strips.

Although I like the way this turned out, especially the design created by the wedge shapes, there were several things I didn't like about the method itself. Primarily, it was so time consuming that I couldn't help thinking it would have been easier and faster to get the same effect with a piecing technique. I also didn't like dealing with the occasional fraying. I know some use this method by applying a fusible to the fabric before cutting, and I can see the merit in that approach. Perhaps I'll try the curved strips in a larger format and see if it produces an effect that I feel could not easily be achieved another way.


The Wittering Rainbow said...

I think this is fabulous. I really love the colours you've chosen. I've only tried weaving once and it was a bit of a disaster - but it was one of those things I was making up as I went along and I lost patience with myself. The book looks very interesting - I shall have a look on Amazon later on if you don't mind my stealing your inspiration!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks! I understand the losing patience bit...I was close to that myself and this was just a small piece.

I was pretty impressed with the book, btw, first bring it home from the library before purchasing. It covers so many techniques, but none in a great amount of detail, just enough to get you through and help you decide if this is something you might want to pursue further. I even knew some of the artists featured, and the pictures of their work is almost enough to justify owning this book. I got my copy used through Powell Books (Portland, Oregon). Apparently it is one that is being used as a college textbook.

margaret said...

With the change in scale of the "squares", and the range of tones, this one sings and dances!

But yes, a very time consuming technique.