“Less is more” and “More is more” are common design mantras. Each has its adherents. A recent design experience took me way beyond “more is more” to deep in the weeds. I’m writing about my recent failure as a lesson that sometimes going for broke can break the piece.
After my Tansy Hargan From Sketchbook to Wall class I was eager to use the techniques taught, so I prepared a smallish (roughly 20 inches square) fused piece which I planned to gussy up with reverse applique, hand stitching, and pen and paint. It started out okay, if a bit pink.
Then I added hand and machine applique, and a bit of embroidery.
I thought more stuff would improve the piece, and utterly overshot the mark.
Finally, I cut off some of the hand work and lightened some of the applique with a white marker. The machine stitched bits are impossible to remove as there is a backing fused on.
My intention was to evoke the playing pieces used in children’s board games. I wish I hadn’t gone down the embellishment road as the original piece was much more pleasing than the monster I created. I could always cut it up….
A recent almost-finish has me flummoxed about what, if any, embellishments to add to it. As a mashup of ice dyed fabric, curved bias strips, and sashing it leans toward the arty side but pulls pack to traditional with that sashing.
I’ll level with you. The sashing is there only because I goofed with the placement of my bias strips and couldn’t get them to meet at the corners. I was certainly not going to rip out and realign the strips and I had no more of the ice dyed fabric, so desperate times called for desperate measures.
This poor thing doesn’t even have a name yet. Maybe “Buttoned Up” or “Unbuttoned,” depending on that embellishment decision I talked about above.
Here are the options I’ve tried so far.
The top two options feature buttons with a gingham pattern. The middle two use felt flowers. The bottom one has a silvery button. You can see how different the fabrics look under different lighting conditions.
I don’t know whether to go with a lively and possibly too cute look, or a plainer, Amish look, which would mean no buttons at all. I may be overthinking this.
SQ is a very recent user of glittery embellishment on quilts – sparkly bugle beads, faceted fake gems, opalescent ovoid pearls and the like. It all began in Joann’s at the button display under a sign that said 50% off. Well, SQ felt the need for some whimsical buttons for a quilt and was taken with little ladybugs. And there, on the next row, was a bag of faceted square stones in soft purples, greens, and aquas. And they cost $2.20 for 41 of them ($1.10 at 50% off.) I thought the colors would go great with an atypically pastel quilt made with McKenna Ryan fabrics that already was embellished with rattail cording and ribbon.
After experimenting with invisible nylon thread to sew on the fake gems and giving that up for dark gray Aurofil cotton, SQ sewed on all 41 of those suckers. And then came the thought- you know, maybe it could use more embellishment. Unsure of her judgment in this, SQ asked the opinion of a friend who happens to be an old hand at embellishment. The friend said yes it could stand a few more sparkles, and graciously opened her Aladdin’s cave of embellishment supplies.
So now SQ has various containers of ominously small size beads in lovely colors to sew on her quilt. What will come first, over embellishment or frustration with the whole process of sewing on all those little beads?
For inspiration, here’s a close up of “Cosmic Catherine Wheel,” a beaded wall quilt by Australian Fiona Hammond.