Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Fabric, Ironing, Thinking

A couple of weekends ago, I was sorting through my late friend's fabric stash that I inherited, looking for just the right thing for one of the Upward Tick quilts. It's on my to do list to get all that fabric washed and filed away, so I did several loads and started the ironing last week. I honestly thought the fabric above was a batik. As I unfolded it to toss into the machine, I realized it was actually a print. It wasn't until I was ironing it that I discovered along the selvage that it is a Jeffrey Gutcheon design from his American Classic Line, which makes it much older than I thought. But as the line's name implies, this is a print that does not look dated to me, that fits in with other prints I've purchased for my more contemporary quilts. Do you remember Gutcheon?  I know I have at least one reader who does. Besides his line of fabric, he authored several books and was inducted into the Quilters Hall of Fame. Quilting wasn't his only claim to fame, though. You can read more about him here.

I know many think of ironing as drudgery, but I've always enjoyed ironing my new fabrics. Besides admiring their beauty and wondering how I will use them, I do some of my best thinking while ironing. I not only hit upon some things to try with the problematic Upward Tick with the hand-dyed cotton circles, but I also thought of a design to show off these two batiks and set of blue gradations I've had set aside for months. That's been a real problem lately, the pairing of fabrics without a clue as to what to make from them.

Wild on Birch Street - Sheila Mahanke Barnes 2005

My ruminations led me to thinking about an exercise Chris of Chris's Quilting Universe has done as part of a class (scroll to the bottom of this post) Her first idea where she rotates 4 of her sketch to create a quilt block-like design reminded me of a variation I'd wanted to try with a quilt I made back before moving out to Idaho. While pressing the individual blocks that make up the tree design, I saw the potential for an abstract quilt in a similar multiplying and rotating of those 4 units. The image of the tree as a whole would be lost, just the angled lines divided by sashing creating something interesting. I think these fabrics could pull that off quite well. I had thoughts about other designs for other fabrics too, and had the foresight to stop ironing when I did and get them down in a sketchbook.

But as enticing as these new ideas are, I need to finish up at least one of the Upward Ticks this week. My art group pretty much concurred with my thinking on them, that the one with the sheers was working best and saw the same issues with the other one as I did. I'd decided to set that one aside for now and finish up the one with the sheers. It helped to have let them sit unseen for awhile; they didn't look nearly as bad as I remembered, as is often the case. At any rate, time to take the next steps and get on with it, the first being to fuse decor bond to the back of the photo printed fabric that will make the mount for the center. Then I squared up the little quilted center, treating the edges with Fray Check. And that particular day, that was all I could face.

Today was another story - I was ready to devote the day to the studio. In retrospect, two things describe my mood: impatient and not caring. Impatient because I've been diddling over this too long and want it done so I can work on some other ideas. Not caring because I've cared too much, and I know from experience I could rearrange those circles and switch them out with other ones forever without settling on a "perfect" arrangement. Ditto regarding what techniques to use - it really doesn't matter THAT MUCH on this one. Just GO. And so I did. I'd pinned the circles so they wouldn't shift in transit to the art group meeting and they pretty much held them in place ok for the stitching. I remember well my struggles with fused sheers suddenly reading differently than those without fusible on them which is one of the reason fusing was never an option for this one. I did wonder if I'd have problems with fraying but it wasn't an issue as I zigzagged around the edges with monofilament thread.

When I attach a quilt to a mount like this, I finish the edge one of three ways: satin stitch around the outside, sew a narrow binding, or couch yarn or decorative thread along the edge. None of these were resonating with me until I remembered that a couple of my blogger friends have "bound" their quilts with sheer fabric. Here I'm considering adding a little glitz. That sheer was too much to be a circle, but it reminded me of a woman at the Mayo Clinic covered head to foot in black, not a burka, but a similar outfit. But one could not feel sorry for her as it was also decorated with a lot of gold bling, truly beautiful. I'm thinking this could be the bridge between the sheers of the center and the black metal frame I plan to put it in.

One of two versions of Upward Tick by Sheila Mahanke Barnes 2014
I cut a 3/4" strip and wrapped it around the edge, sewing it in place with more monofilament zigzagging. Then I centered it on the mount, glue basting it in place, and attached it to the mount with more zigzagging along the edge. I just ordered the frame so this final shot shows it in one thanks to the magic of Paint Shop Pro. This is one of those quilts that is a bugger to get an accurate photo of, especially since I was doing this quickly up on my design wall. The center is fairly accurate, except the red circles are reading more orange than they should. The mount is reading a bit bright; the previous picture is more accurate. In person, the two sections are working pretty well together. But regardless, it is done and I can move on.  


Living to work - working to live said...

Looking good, Sheila, looking good!

Sherrie Spangler said...

I really like it! Of course I remember Jeff Gutcheon, and his wife, Beth.

The Inside Stori said...

Loving the circles.......and any time you have an urge to iron....please head my way!

Chris said...

Upward tick turned out great with the shear circles and the gold trim. Love the photo printed fabric for the background. I never have used Decor bond, but should try it.

Thanks for linking to my blog. Love your birch street quilt and your weeping willow one. I never would have thought to run the tree through the window like that. Makes me wonder if I should have made the 4 patch quilt for my line quilt.