The current 12″ x 12″ challenge for my small group (due this coming Tuesday) is doorway. My poor little brain spent the first month or so agonizing over what to do. Did I want something literal? Something symbolic? Something totally unexpected? I just couldn’t decide.
Early in June I went to Tulsa with my friend Janice (also a member of my small group) for a judge’s critique of this year’s Fiberworks show. Between the critique and the conversations Janice and I had I was left with a great deal to think about regarding these challenges. This thinking left me with a new, and I hope better, perspective on the project.
One of the first conclusions I came to is that I should really consider these challenges as opportunities to practice. I’ve always known that they are, but now it’s going to be a major focus of the project rather than a convenient benefit. Practice can come in the form of trying out a new technique or simply seeing if a mental image translates to fabric in the way I intended. This project did both.
We also discussed the value of working in series. It’s something I really need to put more effort into. I have a tendency to feel like I’m becoming a one trick pony when I work in a series, but that just isn’t true. In reality, it’s another method of practice. And all pieces in a series do not have to resemble each other. Example: How many different ways can I interpret the theme “doorway?”
With all of those thoughts rattling around inside my head I worked to get myself focused on the challenge. What would I like to try? What have I been wanting to do, but never took the time to do? Could I fit it into a 12″ x 12″ format?
I’ve always been intrigued by the quilts of Dilys Fronks and thought this might be a good time to try one. As I was browsing through the internet looking for a wrought iron design I liked I started thinking that maybe I’d like to use an art deco style design. This caused me to remember that I’ve also wanted to try a Frank Lloyd Wright style quilt.
This second idea appealed to me even more as my friend Wendi, who does stained glass, and I have been wanting to create a quilt and a window from the same design. We’ve been discussing it for years, but that’s all the further we’ve gotten.
I decided to let these thoughts cook in the back of my head for a day or two as I moved on to other things. The next thing was to play with some rulers I had bought on a recent trip. It occurred to me that I could kill two birds with one stone by using these to make my window design easier to create. Instead of having to do all that intricate piecing I could just fuse, cut, fold, and then simulate the leading with a machine satin stitch. Much faster and easier! A design was born.
I knew that if I liked this technique I could use it to create a larger show piece. Rather than try to draw up a small design that would fit entirely within my 12″ x 12″ space I decided to draw on the scale I would want for my larger piece and just use a portion of that in this quilt. Doing so would give me a better feel for how things were going to work.
I started by drawing up my design on paper.
I immediately noticed my first real problem. The fabric that I fused to the back side is visible. Black batting made the colors seem to bleed through even brighter, and light colored batting made them shadow through dark. I found a scrap of Quilters Dream Green (it’s just about the same color as the background on the website) that helped to minimize the problem.
After transferring the leading lines to the fabric I was ready to start sewing. I went with a dark brown thread because I liked the way it looked better than a lead gray thread. I decided to stitch through the batting, but not the backing fabric. Satin stitch is never very pretty on the back side and I didn’t want it showing on my quilt. I was hoping that the batting would be a strong enough stabilizer for the work, but I was wrong.
This picture wasn’t taken until I had the piece partially quilted. Fortunately, the quilting flattened the fabric back out again, but the satin stitching remained a bit bubbly and uneven. I’m either going to have to do a lot of practicing with my satin stitch before I do this again or I’m going to have to resort to a different technique.