Tuesday, July 01, 2008


"The irregularity of those little pieces is quite necessary...for if this work is laid up in regular squares the charm is immediately lost." ~ Squire J. Vickers regarding tile work used to spell out station names in the NY Subway System, 1919

Today was a bit harder...decisions to be made, some second guessing of the method I've chosen, doubts arising about the concept as a whole...but I persevered and got my azalea mosaic idea off the ground.

I ran across the above quotation in a book about the New York Subway system, and it hit a nerve. In order to test layout and colors, I often do a quick mock-up in my Electric Quilt program. I don't spend a lot of time making it a perfect rendition or messing with fabrics. Since my sketch was colored in long before I came up with the azalea palette, and I wanted to get an idea of overall size, instead of color in another sketch, I went the EQ route.

Rather than use a variety of sizes and shapes of squares, I just pretended I was making a block quilt with sashing. Very static, very boring, and had I not run across that quotation, I might have let this mock-up guide what happened in fabric. I tend to do things in a very regimented way anyway. So glad Mr. Vickers showed up to remind me to be charming.

Still, I had to map out my rows so the design didn't go rambling all over the place. On this first piece, I want to use the same basting method for needleturn applique as I used on my exchange blocks sashings. I finger pressed some guidelines into my background fabric as a starting point, and started freehand drawing squares approximately 1-1/2" onto the wrong side with a Nonce white marking pencil. Once the green area was marked, I outlined it with large basting stitches in color-coded thread. You can just see the red thread delineating the area that will be tangerine.

Click on this picture and you should be able to make out red basting and yellow basting. These will help me when I am ready to place the applique fabrics.

I got all the squares marked, and I tried to be irregular about it. It's a funny quirk though that when you want to be uneven, you draw amazingly even lines. I had to work at making some of them quite different. I liked the looks of the markings on the reverse, and when I flipped it over and laid out the appropriate color of fabric in the various quadrants, my doubts from earlier in the day disappeared.

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