Friday, January 16, 2009


The above is my response to an on-line challenge to create a small quilt that reflects my intention for the new year. It is called "Unfinished Business" and is made up of bits and pieces scattered about my work table. I have a lot of unfinished business, and as far as my art goes, I've been working since the middle of last year to clear my work table and design walls of all those half-done projects, leftovers that sparked new ideas and fabric pairings that intrigued that I've left out so they would not become more "out of sight, out of mind" ideas never seeing the light of day again.

My intention for 2009 is to continue to work through all this until the table and walls are clear again. No more unfinished business (ha!). There are so many good ideas languishing there, things I'm itching to try and finish and resolve. This isn't stuff I'm thinking I should finish just to be finishing. This really is stuff important to me. And this is the only way I could figure out to actually make decent headway on it.

Of course, with each thing finished, there's often more leftovers sparking even more ideas, but my plan is to work on those too in a much more timely manner than I usually do. I'm excited about working this way, and the bits of freedom gained as work finishes and bare table emerges exhilarate and propel me forward.

As for what's in this piece, it started with the stripset, one of a half a dozen or so I started randomly sewing together from a scrap drawer. I wasn't happy with the way it was going, but several pieces were ok. I just didn't know what to do with them, how to move them beyond ok and didn't want to toss them either. I'd salvaged the piece of batting from a quilting sample and laid the stripset on it. I couldn't bring myself to square up the piece, to get rid of those uneven edges top and bottom, found myself oddly intrigued by the seam allowances showing, the loose threads. I attached it to the batting by zigzagging around the edges with clear monofilament thread. But it needed more. I spotted some yarn ends trimmed from a project early last year and couched them on top through the stripset and batting. Then amongst the rubble I found the brown strip that had been trimmed from yet another quilt of last year. It had Decor Bond fused to it which is why it was still out on the table. Knew it would be good for something but hadn't decided what. I liked how the square of "quilt" looked on it. Then I found the narrow strip of batik and fused it to the brown strip leaving edges raw and extending it into a hanging loop at the top. I used glue to attach the quilt to this backing strip and called it done. While it is "finished" it is not "finished" in the way I would normally complete a quilt - there's no backing, no finished edges. It speaks to the impatience I'm feeling right now to get things done. The main part is 7" by 8" and the strip it is attached to makes it about 14" in overall length.

This is the second piece I've done where I've just sewn piecing to batting and left all raw edges exposed, including the excess batting. (See "Change" here.) I'm a little appalled at myself that this is becoming an appealing way to work since I've looked askance at other artists working this way. ;-) But in both cases, the work was reflecting emotion, emotion that did not want to be reined in by neat and clean finishes.

This will hang in my studio as an in my face reminder to get to work and deal with all that unfinished business.


Sandra Wyman said...

Love this piece, Sheila - it really works

JennaLouiseCreates said...

I love it and can relate to unfinished business. Each project sparks another I just can't wait to start. Wonderful post. Jenna Louise

The Idaho Beauty said...


Unknown said...

I love the concept of this piece, in fact i think a lot of us could do with a piece like this hanging right in front of our faces - as a reminder :) I am notorious for not finishing things, once I have resolved the design / problems and can see the finished article in my head, then I'm done with it - find it really hard to actually complete and 9 times out of 10 go onto the next idea whizzing around in my head. Only if I have a dead line do I seem to finish a piece ;)
Love your blog :)

Linda’s Textiles said...

Good luck with your unfinished business too! A reminder piece is probably a good idea. I have lots of unfinished things but I do actually go back to every so often and finish some of them. I don't feel the need to work through them in any sort of order - that would drive me crazy I think. I often work with little scrap pieces like you've been doing - can't throw things out.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Tracy, I didn't used to lose interest in projects once I got beyond the design process, because for me it was never the end result that was the most important and enjoyable for me, but the actual creative process including the sewing and stitching. But lately I'm getting more like you - like pulling teeth to put the finishing touches on things after resolving most of the issues. Why is that? Maybe it is the lack of deadlines - as you mention, those really help focus me to push through to the end. I'm enjoying your blog too - love what you did with the bleach discharge recently.

Linda - it IS pretty difficult to work according to a predetermined order. Some days I just don't feel like working on a certain idea or feel more prone to a particular stage of one project over another. I'm trying to give some structure to how I approach my workload, since I don't have many true deadlines anymore. I don't rule out deviating from the plan, because yes, that WOULD be counterproductive in the end, I think. Gotta keep the love going. ;-)