Friday, November 13, 2015

Is It Done?

You wouldn't know it from the blog (and my lack of posts thereon) but I have been diligently working to finish up Masks. I finished stitching beads into the eyes of the antler buttons I'd glued in place, wondered if I should add more buttons, then decided I'd know better after I got rid of that excess batting and backing along the edge. I'd originally intended to apply a facing following the natural unevenness of the edge, but two things changed my mind as I proceeded with the beading. First of all, I became very fond of that soft raveled edged all round. It seemed to play up the tribal feeling of the masks. But more importantly, I realized that especially along the bottom, I had not left enough room past some of the beading for a seam allowance. Still, I needed to do something along that edge in place of the basting stitches that would be removed. I settled on an uneven cross-stitch similar to what I'd done around the eye squares. As I was trying to decide whether to use the blue or the reddish pink thread that had gone around the squares and knowing that neither was probably right, my eyes finally picked up on the fact that I'd purposely used a variegated brown thread to quilt areas near the edges. Ahh - perfect tie-in.

I'd run the quilting stitches all the way out to the edge thinking they'd be caught in a seam. Now I needed to trim away the batting so it wouldn't show but not inadvertently trim away any of the raveled threads, and I'd given myself very little wiggle room in which to do that. After trying different scissors, I settled on these duckbill applique ones. The batting is Hobbs Thermore which is a thin polyester, and it cut away quite easily if I held the excess taut and angled the scissors just so. I managed only one nick in the backing fabric and no loss of fringe - pretty good in my book.

But now what to do about the backing? I considered trimming it flush with the top and fringing it out too but I sensed the edges could use a little stabilizing. I decided to try trimming it so I could turn it twice to the back, leaving about a half inch "facing" that I stitched in place with a running stitch. I felt the running stitch would give a bit more stability than a slip stitch along the edge and now that it is done, I think I am right. And of course, it is totally reversible if I change my mind and want to go back to the idea of fringing it like the front.

Here's how it looks from the front - free fringe, no batting or backing showing, and somewhat primitive-looking cross-stitches. For all the well-meaning people who over the years have advised me to loosen up, told me I was too uptight and concerned about perfection, I say, HERE! I CAN do it...but I must feel it is appropriate to do so. This quilt told me it must be that way and it got no argument from me.

Now it went up on the design wall for a good look. I'd used the equivalent of Cocoa Chanel's admonition to "Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory" with my "face" buttons when auditioning them. I'd pretty much put everything I had somewhere on this quilt before admitting that they were taking over, not adding to the story. A lot of them got set aside, and later I could see why specific ones needed to be left off, even if the quilt called for more buttons. I still had one of three similar ones that I decided needed to be added back on to fill a space and perhaps help move the eye but it was an iffy call. I decided to plunge ahead and just add it. I really like those red beads in the eyes.

The final rendition of Masks? (26W x 29L)

So it is finished - well, except for sleeve and label - or so I thought. When it went back up on the design wall for this picture, I started having second thoughts. At one point I'd toyed with the idea of dangling some wooden beads along the bottom then dismissed needing them. They fit the theme and have dark markings that might balance out that dark right edge. I'd have to mix some other beads in but I think I have something that would work. I'm wondering if they would be the final touch to pull it all together. And I'm also wondering if I should add another round of beads in the hat of the right mask. I've used every single green bead but still have some of the red and white. Also wondering if I should bead some white lines in the upper portion of the left mask hat. Or am I fiddling too much? I just suddenly found my eye a bit confused at what it was seeing so of course thought adding more beads was the answer. What do you think?


Michele Matucheski said...

Congratulations! This has been a long time coming. I thought you must have been working diligently on something, so as not to be blogging. The raw edge treatment really works for this one, adding texture and interest. I also like your solution for stabilizing the backing with the XXXX stitches. I would not have thought of that -- but then, I do so little hand stitching. It's amazing with solutions come to us as we spend time with a piece. If it needs more beading, you'll see it, parts will cry out to you to say it's not finished yet. You'll know ...

Chris said...

Love how you finished the edge. I don't think it needs any more beads. If you are still having second thoughts about it then live with it for a while as it is and then decide. Sometimes it is good to walk away for a while. If it needs more you will know it. I personally am not into beads hanging fro the bottom of a quilt. Again wait and see it you think it needs it. Another thing you could do it add beads in Photoshop and see how it looks.

The Idaho Beauty said...

It's true I need to leave this up somewhere for a bit. My rush to wanting to call it done is no doubt driven by the fact I want to clear away the quarter of my work space where I've had all the beading options and references laid out on - mentally ready to move on to something else. It's so gratifying to be able to store all those leftover beads in their vials or ziplock bags and return them to their drawer. Well, I guess I could still put 9/10ths of it away while I speculate on whether more needs to be added.