Thursday, September 16, 2010


Dance is done. Not my best work, and in hindsight, I can see what I should have done to achieve my vision. But I am happy enough with the conclusion to wrap this up and move one, lessons learned. Finished size 15" x 17".

In my last post about this, I said I'd be looking for a border fabric that would help pull the dancers off the background. I kept thinking something strong and dark, like a navy, would do that. I was quite surprised that it did not, and so moved on to greens and purples. Again, mostly strong colors that just weren't doing it. What I should have realized was that in order for the dancers to pop a bit more, the border needed to be muted, and this rather odd batik definitely plays the background role that was needed. It is very muted, with some of the same coloring as in the dark dancer fabric, yet there are tinges of the plum as well.

I used Thermore polyester batting in this, a thin drapey batting that extended far enough beyond the quilt top to accommodate the border I wanted to add. But because of its lack of body and quilting stitches out in that area, I was worried about stability and rippling edges in the finished piece. I'd decided to add the border with a modification of the "magic miters" method used here. This approach constructs the border separately, place it right sides together on the back of the quilt, seaming all around, then turning it to the front and top-stitching the inside edge through all layers. In this case, I didn't want to do the outside seaming because of the exposed batting. I also wanted to add stiffening for that stability I felt I needed around the outside. So I made the frame, cut Strips of Decor Bond 1/4 inch narrower than the frame, mitered the ends and fused them to the wrong side of the frame. Now I had both a smooth firm edge to turn the inner seam allowance over as well as the binding that would finish the outside edge.

The top was squared up to the same outer dimensions as the frame, the frame arranged on top with edges matching, pins held it all in place while I ran a line of stay stitching around the outside. It was at this point that I was sure my frame fabric choice was working as I hoped it would.

Now that the edge was secured, I pinned the inner edge in place and topstitched with Oliver Twist cotton hand dyed thread - a very subtle variegated muted plum that went so perfectly with that odd batik.

Yes, this would have looked very nice with a knife edge finish, but as I said, I couldn't manage easily with that exposed batting along the edge - this is what happens when you don't plan far enough ahead in the design process. I'm not adverse to bindings though, and I decided that a very narrow one in a slightly darker fabric would make a neat and tidy finish. I was shooting for 1/8" but as you can see, it fell somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4. The fabric is the same as that used for the dark dancers. I thought that was a nice tie-in.

So what is some of my hindsight? I can see now that if I wanted to give the look of woods and a bonfire in the background, I should have dealt with that before fusing on the dancers. I could have achieved the glow of flames either with paint or with thread and foresty things with applique shapes or possibly thread, but once the dancers were in place, I simply couldn't work in those small spaces to get the effect. Someone else might have been able to, but I could not. I also think I should have fused the dancers to a dark, possibly black fabric first, trimming it back to 1/8 inch or so before fusing the whole thing to the background. That would have given each dancer the definition they lacked, that the black thread outline stitching just couldn't provide.

I must remember too that I didn't really like working with the Misty Fuse and other fusible as an exposed layer. It made everything so much more difficult, always having to remember it had to be covered with parchment whenever the iron was nearby. It was worth experimenting with but I think I won't be using it much that way again.


Mary Stori said...

You do such a great job explaining your construction process.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks, Mary. Sometimes I wonder if it makes any sense at all. Nice to know it does.

Anonymous said...

It's looking really good. I like the border and thinks it balances the centre very well!