Last week I noted in passing that I was working on an improv quilt. This week I’m surprised to report that I’ve finished the design part of said quilt. The lengths I’ll go to avoid difficult projects never cease to amaze me.
As I’ve written before, I have lots of scraps. My latest improv work made me confront the extent of my scrap collections. Of course I have cotton scraps arranged by color, with separate piles for strips. But I also have scrap collections of silks, organzas, and fused fabrics. Then there are the bits and bobs I have been subjecting to surface design experiments. Oh, and the shiny costume bits, but they don’t count because they were given to me.
Since my hot off the design wall piece contains scraps from three of my collections (cotton, organza, fused) plus surface design experiments, I am calling it “SOS” for Save Our Scraps.
The common theme is circles: polka dot fabric, inset circles, circles on fabric, and appliqued circles. I hadn’t planned to add the appliqued circles, but I felt something more was needed once all the pieces got sewn (with partial seams no less.) It all began with a scrap fabric pull, as my usual way to begin improv quilts is with a color palette. After I embraced the circle theme of the print turquoise fabric, I framed two feather prints and turquoise painted white on white fabric using the 6 minute circle technique.
Once I decided on appliqued circles I pulled out my high tech templates and my fused scraps and got to work.
The backing is pieced and the batting cut. Now all I need is a quilting design. I’m thinking about overlapping circles or maybe one big one.
A few weeks ago I showed my progress on a fabric collage of a cloudy sky. At that point I had quilted the sky in place and overlaid a fence on it. The fence is now sewn down and shaded, and the facing and hanging sleeve are on. In fact, “Dreams of Freedom” is completely done.
I am almost completely caught up with my fabric work. The boring details of “Urban Decay” will get finished today, and my queue has just my family photos series and an improv bit I slapped on the design wall yesterday. It’s an unusual situation for me, and a bit intimidating. Now I can’t use unfinished work as an excuse not to design new work. Though I have an idea for a sailboat…
I hadn’t realized I was creating another bottomless source of scraps when I started making collages. The courses I took had us make collage papers from monoprints and paintings, and I already had a stash of magazine pages thanks to the Sunday New York Times. Pretty soon I had overflowing, unorganized piles of all sorts of papers from cut out photos, to failed monoprints and paintings, specialty papers, and postcards. And then I decided to collect text as well.
The good news was I didn’t have to iron them and these scraps took up less space than fabric, but I knew I had to bring some sort of order to my mess. Plastic pocket dividers and recycled envelopes have helped, as well as a larger plastic box for all my tissue paper. While my fabric scraps are sorted by color (mostly) I grouped my paper by photos, solid colors, cut up bits of failed collages and paintings, and text. Of course there’s still a pile of miscellaneous, but it’s much smaller now.
Lately I’ve been using my starter pieces to make collages as it’s great to have some of the work already done. My most recent collages are sewn to wallpaper samples and old sketchbook pages.
While “Blue Leaves” came together quickly, “Roundabout” took a more circuitous route. The photos are in order from first draft to finished work.
I still find myself in a quilting mindset as I seem to have a horror of any background left showing. My next collage challenge will be to leave lots of white space.
On a totally unrelated note, I came across this quote by Pablo Picasso while I was watching “Great Art Explained” about Guernica:
We are know that art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth, at least the truth that is given to us to understand.
Update: My machine has found a new home where she’ll be given TLC.
It’s hard to part with old friends, and this is the machine I learned to sew on, but the time has come to find it a new home. It, or rather she, is a 99-13 portable sewing machine, one of 10,000 made in 1930 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, AD093993, Motor #48-7053, Catalog B.U. 7-E.
She sews forward straight stitch only, and is operated with a knee control. She comes with a complete buttonhole attachment kit, a cord, and assorted other feet and attachmentts that may belong to it or another vintage Singer that belonged to my granny. The 99-13 is considered a portable 3/4 size machine and comes in a bentwood case, though it weighs in the neighborhood of 20 pounds. I had it serviced some years ago, and it still runs and the light works as of two weeks ago. Here’s a post that further describes this machine.
If you are willing to pick it up in Akron, Ohio, it can be yours for $20, with all accessories included. Prices online are all over the map, but I know this model isn’t as desirable as a featherweight. Sorry, but I think shipping costs would be too much to make that option worth anyone’s while.
You can contact me at email@example.com if you’re interested or have questions.
Feel free to pass this offer along to anyone you know who might be interested. It might be just the thing for a Singer enthusiast. Thanks.
After I finished “Shattered” I realized that I had finished everything I was working on except my unknown family photo piece. Since I abhor a vacuum in my production line I had to line up new work. I browsed my large file of inspiration photos and came up with two possibilities. Curiously enough both involve a lot of sky.
After pulling fabric for both, I decided to begin with a photo of the sky from the top of Bowman’s Hill tower in eastern Pennsylvania south of New Hope. I love the abstract lines of the safety fencing against the cloud filled sky.
First, I lightened the image to make the fencing seem to float. Then, I developed a template for the fencing out of newsprint.
Next came the fun part- creating a sky. I began with a stack of possible blues, blue-grays, grays, and purple blues. I mixed up hand dyes, bits of damask and denim, plus odd bits I had colored over the years with printing and painting.
These were stuck down on a piece of canvas with fusible and glue after much cutting and rearranging. It was really fabric collage work.
Because I didn’t want the ridges from the quilting to show through the fencing fabric I lined it with a fusible interfacing. I plan to sew down the fence edges with a zigzag stitch, but won’t fuse that fabric to the sky. At first I tried dark fabrics for the fence.
I decided my original choices overpowered the sky, so I switched out many of the darkest fabrics for lighter ones.
My next steps are mostly mechanical: hand baste the vertical pieces to the sky and zigzag them down, refine the bottom edges of the horizontal pieces to make it seem the pipes go through them, hand baste and then zigzag them down. After that I’ll see if any further coloring work is in order.
For once I don’t have a working title. I’ve thought of “Dreams of Freedom” or “From The Tower,” but I’m waiting for the bolt of inspiration.