“Originality is only variation.”
- Holbrook Jackson, Platitudes in the making: precepts and advices for gentlefolk
On the advice of my loyal blog followers, I've tackled that stack of fabric, setting aside the need for the results to match what vision I may be harboring for a background for a specific piece. That bit of blockage I was experiencing, that fear that sometimes sets in at the beginning of a new project, has all but disappeared. This has released me to take a more experimental and less controlling approach, and to add in some colors that in the end I don't think will be appropriate for the shadow grass concept.
However, appropriate or not, even with just this small bit of piecing, I'm really liking the results and getting excited. I'm using as my guide a method laid out in the December/January 2012 issue of Quilters Newsletter Magazine in an article by Pam Rocco. This may be the quickest I've followed up on something pulled from a magazine, possibly because it came at precisely the time I was considering this type of background and pondering how to start. So this is not a matter of copying Pam's rag rug quilt (which I really love, by the way) but taking advantage of her how-to's to create my own variation. Hopefully. This is not unlike the "therapy strips" I recently saw on Sherrie Loves Color and I have to admit, cutting strips without a ruler and sitting at the machine piecing without the need for precision did feel therapeutic. Where this method varies I think is in the insertion of strips that combine two or three different fabrics. This was not something I'd considered when thinking about a strip-pieced background. I like the subtle variety and movement it is lending.
One of the things I've always disliked about this sort of free-form piecing is the way it soon gets out of whack. I know, this doesn't bother everyone, but it often bothers me. Pam not only admits to this inevitability of the process but provides a way to get the piece back on track without losing the great gentle curves. Between every set of 10 strips (which are cut 1 to 1-1/2 inches wide and about 22 inches long), she has you add what she calls a transition strip, one where you actually cut a curve that matches the curve you will be adding the strip to - thus inserting a strip stabilizing on-grain strip. Brilliant - it can be seen at the bottom of my stripset, and another one will be added at the top. I think I have about 3 more of these sets to piece to get the length I need - oh, providing I actually need it to be the original 16 x 20 I was shooting for. Stay tuned.