What I did at the weekend

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Solomon Quilt

This is a small quilt (about 2 feet/ 60 cm square) which I am proud to say I made on Saturday afternoon.

I am proud of this because it demonstrates expertise.  I wanted to make a quilt as a demonstration piece for a talk I am doing and I didn’t want to spend hours on it, so I used what I have learned over the years about quick techniques.  I suppose I pressed my 10,00 hours of practice into service.  The 10,000 hours required to make an expert is coming under fire as an idea, but this quilt came out of a lifetime of practising a skill, not just an afternoon’s work, and I think there is something in the idea.  I know, from some much practice and prototyping and going to workshops over the years, how to get the effect I want.  So, this is largely fused and it has very free-form stitching over the top:

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I really like this strong graphic line, which is done with Mettler quilting thread in black   The fabric is fused with heat and bond which is great, but the combination of that and the thick thread did for the needle which eventually gave up and snapped.  The new needle worked much better, but that snapped on a subsequent project so I switched from an 11 to a 14 and have had better results.  My sewing machine is wonderfully patient with me, but even it has its limits.

So, I sat down to make this piece on Saturday afternoon, intending to trace a pattern in a quilting magazine which had caught my eye.  I had even bought the fabric for that design in Copenhagen on my last visit.  Of course, the pattern and the magazine had disappeared.  I went to exactly where I had left them but they were gone.  So, having looked at thousands of applique quilts over the years, I decided to make my own pattern.  When I drew the pattern it looked a lot like a daffodil, which would have been nice, but I had bought nice traditional looking red fabric for the piece, so I decided that it would be an amaryllis, greatly simplified as three or more flower heads were more like a botanical drawing exercise than a quick quilt.  I remembered the blade-like leaves, though.

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The background is some scrap linen with a sepia print:

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A toile really, but not an antique one.  I was going to use the back at first, but I thought the print added to the vintage look of the block.  The quilt is deliberately a bit wonky with some stems longer than others and the leaves cut freehand and differently for each block.

The quilt is a piece for my new talk on Friendship quilts.  This one is an example of a Solomon Quilt.  I had never heard of these, but my October guest, the wonderful Marybeth Stalp, has one.  When a quilter dies, sometimes the remaining members of the family get part of her quilt – probably a quarter – as a separate piece.  It is form of keepsake.  I thought that an applique design like this would be a good example of a mock-up Solomon Quilt.  Although you end up with a small wall-hanging, this is a good way to try out some ‘quarter’ quilts if like me you will never have time to make all the full-size pieces you would like.

 

 

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New quilting design

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I have been working on a project with the wonderful Paula Hyde at Manchester Business School which has involved making pieces together.  This is the second stage of the one Paula started:

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Hers is the lovely latticed ribbon square in the centre.  I put some very luscious silk around two sides and included two quotations: ‘To know the history of embroidery is to know the history of women’, from Roszika Parker’s foundational text, The Subversive Stitch, and ‘Stitching assuages touch hunger’ which is my own idea based very heavily on Eve Sedgwick’s thoughts on craft and work with the hand in A Dialogue on Love (not for the faint-hearted, this one, brilliant passages on suicide).

Anyway, I wanted to sew my quotations over some heavy quilting.  I started out with a design that I have used a lot in the past but not so much recently:

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I love this design and this time I did it using a full complement of rubbery thimbles which helped me push the fabric about.  I had never used them before but they really worked, although when I tried to get them off after using them for a while there was a rather peculiar sucking noise and I thought I had dislocated a finger.  More about them, probably, in another post.

When I came to the second panel, I started with the frondy, swirly design, but suddenly thought about a design I had used in zentangles.  Most of the patterns have cringe-y names with a ‘z’ on the end, and I think this one is called ‘krownz’:

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It’s usually used as an edging, like this:

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See the bottom right-hand corner.

It turned out to be very simple to quilt as it is a continuous line and the variations in size and shape give it its energy:

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I will use it again in a context where I am not stitching over it, but I wanted a really heavily stitched effect here and I am pretty pleased that it worked out well.

BTW, the writing, of course, was a less happy experience, with a broken needle and a large amount of tutting.