What Was I Thinking? Maybe I Wasn’t

This year I resolved to slow down my quilt production and concentrate more on thoughtful design. Certainly I’ve been doing OK on slowing down my process compared with other years. Then I got embroiled in My Brain On Xmas, which was taken over by my id.

Brain 2I throw together project starters from scraps when I just want something mindless to sew.  It’s my way of experimenting with color combinations. As I looked for pieced bits I could use for FMQ practice, I pulled out one that reminded me of Christmas, despite the Indonesian temple dog from fabric purchased in the 1970s.

Brain dogIt sat on my cutting table while I was sorting through my dyed fabric. Next thing I knew I jettisoned all that slow and thoughtful approach malarky, and sewed together fabric with sparkly little gold circles and a paintstik rubbing of a trivet, which reminded me of a brain. A few more bits and strips from my voluminous scrap bins and I was done.

Brain detailSince I needed a piece to do handwork on while I traveled this one was nominated. Into a bag went different balls of perle cotton and skeins of embroidery floss. I layered the top and batting, and embroidered that. Then I added a backing and did machine quilting.

Brain fabric detailAnd that wasn’t enough. Out came the floss again as I added more hand stitching. Then, a bit of decorative machine stitching because it still needed more. By this time I had most of the surface covered with thread of some kind. Why do I do this? Because it’s pure fun to work intuitively without a plan. And I did use it for FMQ practice.

The title? It’s how I feel about the holidays – way too much stuff.

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12 Comments

Filed under Completed Projects

12 responses to “What Was I Thinking? Maybe I Wasn’t

  1. I love this piece. It is so interesting how the combination of leftovers and inspiration makes such a coherent whole (at least when you do it!). I love the addition of the yellow stripe and the temple dog at the center. Someday I need to try my hand at using my scraps more improvisationally.

    • I think what makes for coherence in this scrappy piece is the blue/green/yellow blotchy fabric that came out of the same dye pot a few years ago. While the original fabric was different, it got blended in the dyeing process. And thanks for the kind words.

  2. I love this piece and enjoyed reading your explanation. Question… Did you mark the embroidered circles before stitching? They look so perfect.

    • I did mark the circles using various sizes of plates. Too bad the hand stitching is a bit wonky. I used the marks for my machine stitching as well, as I hand stitched roughly halfway between my marked lines. And thanks for the kind words.

  3. I love the combination of machine and hand stitching! And I love how the dog has the “totally overwhelmed by the holidays” look.

    • I laughed when I read your comment as the dog does indeed have that “deer caught in the headlights” look. And I’m on a kick of combining hand and machine stitching. I just pieced two little tops that I plan to add ribbon and big stitch embroidery to before machine quilting them.

  4. Looks like a great project and fun to do. Thanks for pointing out that you did some of the stitching before adding the backing. Helps to know that.

    • I learned in Carol Ann Waugh’s Stupendous Stitching Craftsy class that you get different effects from stitching done before and after making the whole sandwich. Stitches done before tend to float on the top, while stitches done after tend to sink into the layers.

      • For me, there also would be the messiness factor. Stitches through the back show, and for me that isn’t good, at this point.

      • Funny you should mention that. I had gotten used to having the back side of my hand stitches not show, so I found I did some stitching once the back was on that is NOT pretty. I’ll just make sure no one sees the back.

  5. jennyklyon

    I LOVE this. I suspect that the “mindless” stuff just needed to be there until the ideas percolated and gelled. This is a well-designed, fun, interesting, colorful piece.

    • I was reading on another quilter’s blog that she uses kit quilts as her mindless sewing exercise. I guess I use my odd scraps for the same purpose. On this piece I refused to second guess myself, but went with my original concept. I’m glad it comes across as fun, because that’s what I got out of making it.

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