Sunday, December 19, 2021

Breakout // a finished quilt and its journey

And here is the completed quilt. I named it Breakout. Not to be confused with outbreak. I am rather pleased by how abandoning the first idea led to this totally unplanned and unforeseen result. You'll have to read through the last two posts to understand where this is coming from.

Breakout, 163 x 113 cm
epp and machine piecing, machine quilted, my original design made up as I went.

To me the term breakout has both, a positive and a negative connotation and leaves room for interpretation. I myself remain undecided about what is going on in this quilt. But I tend to think positively. Especially after introducing the five appliqu├ęd squares. I like to think of them as the odd ones that don't follow the rules. They have freed themselves from constraints and expectations and are floating towards adventures only the brave can experience.

The quilting of the straight lines forming a sort of tangled net is in the background suggesting the pieces are floating above the net, having somehow managed to free themselves. They broke out of what was holding them back. The odd ones have already gone a step further. The echo quilting in the zig-zag fabric enhances the dynamic forces going on.

You can read more about the backing fabric in the previous post.

Breakout will be a constant reminder that improvisation can lead to surprising and satisfying results. While I like to plan ahead in life and in some quilt designs too, I also think that it's best to cultivate both approaches. Lucky the ones that know when to set rules and when to let go. And are able to process.

While Breakout and Why Not? are the result of an improvisational approach and process, I'm already planning my next quilt. Thoroughly planning ahead this time. Breakout and Why Not? started with no vision of how the final quilt would look. For my next quilt I have a clear vision (except for the quilting) and a very detailed plan. I'm looking forward to the different creation process and we'll see if my vision materializes in the end.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

recent epp that completely changed direction // part 2

I decided to quilt in three different ways. Along the seams of the cut up fabric containing the epp squares, shadow quilting on the large scale zig-zag fabric to enhance the dynamic movement, and a kind of a background web in all the small scale zig-zag. Lots of stops and gos with zillions threads to bury. 

I'll talk more about the idea behind the quilting when posting the finished quilt. As this detail of the back shows I used two different thread colors. That was a conscious design choice that probably nobody will ever notice. Maybe I could have gone bolder with one thread color. As said in the previous post, discarded options are gone and I'll never know how another choice would have looked.

No second thoughts about my choice of binding though.

As I'm posting this the binding is all done. The only thing left to do is to stitch the label and take proper pictures of the finished quilt. Hoping for good daylight and free time to coincide soon.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

recent epp that completely changed direction

Already while finishing Why Not? I kept english paper piecing more squares. I had been pondering an idea for a long time and wanted to get it out of my system. I wanted to make sort of a giant rectangular scrappy granny square and just kept adding fabrics from my scrap bins.

But once I reached this size I realized I didn't like it. I still liked the idea but my color choices didn't satisfy me plus the whole process was getting annoying.

I decided I was going to look at it as just a piece of fabric to work with. And what better thing than to cut it up? I made a few paper mockups to help me decide where I wanted to cut through.

Then braced myself and just did it.

At this point I put the pieces up on my design wall and evaluated different fabrics to add. I also pulled a vintage floral bed sheet and I considered it for a long time.

In the end I felt the cut up fabric was already colorful enough and I'd rather wanted to add another graphic element than more color. So rather neutral tones but with strong zig-zag prints were meant to be. Up to this point I had been thinking I wanted the pieces to be floating towards each other attempting to form a whole unit again. But with the introduction of the zig-zag a new energy came into play. A different force that was clearly rather pushing apart than pulling together. So I had to let go of that thought.

The piecing posed its challenges but with the help of some paper templates I managed to puzzle piece and fill in the oddly shaped areas.

Unpicking and resewing was not uncommon as well. In the end I was quite pleased with the finished top.
Yet I felt something was missing. More about that later.

Once the top was finished I realized the vintage bed sheet would be the perfect backing. It has a grandmother appeal reminding me of the original granny square idea, the color matches perfectly, and if one looked at the top and thought of broken old porcelain dishes there was even an additional connotation.

As in the past I resorted to paper copies of the top to help me decide how to quilt. This is always a moment in the quilt making process difficult for me. The quilting can change the look once again and even the drawings on the paper copies are only that much of a help as it's only a hint of how it will look.

Also thread color choice is not always obvious and depends if you want the color of the quilting to blend in or to show up as an additional element. And once you have made up your mind you'll never know how it would have looked otherwise. Deciding means letting go.

To be continued...

Friday, November 5, 2021

Why Not? // 2 and last !

As promised here is the full view of my quilt I finished in September, exactly one year after my exhibit that was the reason I started this hand sewing project to go. Funny coincidence don't you think? Also funny that the only thing I knew at that time was that I was going to epp a bunch of sixteenpatch blocks.
If you read through the previous post you'll understand more of the process and the name.

Why Not?
158 x 123 cm
epp and machine pieced, machine quilted

This project produced some left over epp squares that sparked a new idea for a quilt I'm quilting right now. I'll share more about that soon as well.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Why Not? // 1

In August 2020 I started a new improvised hand sewing project to take with me while looking after my exhibit that took place a month later. I resorted to simple epp squares. My plan was to sew sixteenpatch blocks with a defined color palette and decide later what to do with them.

I had two bright orange prints I no longer liked and decided (why not?) to try using bleach to change the color. The result was a kind of apricot or salmon hue and I liked pairing them with brown/reddish ones.

After the exhibit this became a side project and by the end of 2020 I had sewn a decent number of blocks and found I wanted to add interest by introducing another pair of colors.

By April of this year I had hand sewn enough blocks to start thinking about layout on my design wall.
It was also then that I felt I didn't want to fill the blanks with more of the same blocks but rather (why not?) introduce another element.

That was also the moment I no longer wanted to continue hand sewing this top and decided (why not?) to continue by machine piecing the blocks together. 

Because I added sashing but not everywhere I had some fussy piecing to do.

Adding those small corner stones was a bit tedious but very worth the effort.

It became July when I got around to machine quilt and in August the binding was attached and funny enough in September, exactly a year after the exhibit that started this project, I attached the label.

It took me another while to take pictures of the finished quilt and to pull myself together to write this blogpost. Instagram makes sharing pictures so much easier and I've shown many there including the finished quilt last September. Still I wanted to document the journey of this making here too. Tomorrow I'll post the finished quilt as well.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

CaBa - a commissioned family memory lane quilt

Back in February I have also been commissioned to make a family memory quilt. My client gave me a stack of worn clothes from family members of different generations. The idea was to make a memory quilt she wants to gift to her daughter as a wedding present. I was thrilled and honoured. I made her various proposals of design options and she chose a string quilt. 

Long story short, what started out with this

resulted into this

It measures 174 x 137 cm, turned out pretty soft and cuddly and I couldn't be happier with the result. The best part about it though is that my client is as happy as I am if not even more.

Yesterday was the day, when she and her husband came by to pick up the finished quilt.

You can check my Instagram feed to see tons of work in progress pictures and more.