January 25, 2012

"Late March"

This quilt has been in the making for seven years.  In winter of 2005, I signed up for a Design Workshop with Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr that would be held that June.  We were told to come with three ideas for quilts.  My first idea (and the only one, until about a week before the workshop) was to do something about the midwestern landscape in which I live.  Toward the end of March, I drove out into the countryside, and took a lot of photos.  I bought fabric in the range of late-winter colors that I held in my mind.  (Missing from the memory is the predominant straw color that I see when I look back at the photos--which I find interesting, but didn't made me change the palette.)  Shortly before the workshop, another idea took over, and I worked on that quilt, "Loss," for three years.  Not long after I finished "Loss," I went to a multi-media workshop at Arrowmont, and, using thick layers of pastel on 9x12 sheets of pastel paper, I made a kind of trial version of a quilt, going back to my idea of landscape.  You can see it in the second photo of this post.  My husband and I both liked the piece so much that it's been hanging in our living room ever since.  With the confidence from the Arrowmont workshop, and the experience of a great dyeing workshop with Carol Soderlund, I then went on to create hand-dyed fabrics for a cloth version of the composition.  Making the quilt top was simple once I had the fabric, but I stalled for a long time wondering about how I would quilt it.  After many samples and consultations, I decided on parallel straight-line quilting, with some changes of direction from one area to another.  I finished the quilting about a month ago.  But, alas, I immediately saw two problems:  First, I had the quilting lines in the light blue "sky" going vertically, done in order to contrast with the horizontal "fields."  But it definitely looked wrong, and I decided to take out all the stitching in that upper/right area, and to re-do it horizontally.  As long as I was doing that, I would correct the second problem as well:  The black batting I had used in the quilt was showing through the light blue fabric, shading it down in a way I didn't like.  (Why black batting?  I was doing in-the-ditch quilting in the seams, and was afraid some of the batting might peek through.  I thought black would be a better option in case that happened.  But I wasn't thinking of what it would do to the light blue section.)  Here's a photo that compares black batting and white under the blue fabric--after I had taken out the stitches:

As you can see, definitely better with white batting!  So. . . how was I going to get the black batting out and white batting in?  As luck would have it, I had to make a trip to Chicago a couple of weeks ago, and spent an evening with Mary Beth.  As we talked about one or another option, she had the brilliant idea of leaving the black batting in place, but slipping in a piece of white cloth over it.  Same benefit!  And a much more feasible method for quilt-surgery.  So that's what I did.  I used the white fabric that was the base for the hand-dyed fabric, and I starched it heavily, to aid in sliding it into place.  Here's one piece placed over the lower section of blue.

Then I placed another piece over the upper section.  (Using two separate pieces was easier than trying to cut one piece in the precise "L" shape needed.)

And here's the new sandwich, pinned and ready for quilting:

EXCEPT. . . As I pinned (using straight pins, I'm not sure why), I apparently was pricking my finger from time to time, leaving spots of blood on the fabric.  (They may be visible if you double-click to enlarge the image.)  So, I stopped and wiped out the blood with cold water, taking care not to stretch the fabric as I did so.  Waited until it dried, put in safety pins, and then re-did the quilting with horizontal lines.  Better!

Some details (the lines are about 3/8" apart):

I used Invisafil thread, a very thin polyester thread that I like a lot.  I used dark khaki through the whole quilt, and the thread blended well in each area--though when I re-did the quilting in the blue upper corner, I changed to a pale gray thread instead.

On the back, I used a green Kona cotton that I over-dyed with brown, and a faced binding with curved corners, method from Mary Beth--it really makes a nicely tailored corner.

January 22, 2012

Silk Quilt

I did go ahead and make sew up the five large pieces of silk brocade into a quilt.  I used Dream Puff batting and a cordoroy backing, with quilting in about 9" squares, making it into a kind of comforter.  I wanted a warm quilt for napping on the couch, which led me to Dream Puff.  (I learned about this batting from Weeks Ringle--see this post.)  To get the "comforter" look, I sewed the layers with a "pillowcase" finish rather than using regular binding.  I'd never done this on anything larger than a placemat before, so the size was a challenge. 

Also, the silk is quite challenging to sew with because of how slippery it is, and because it gives quite a bit in sewing, rather than holding its shape.  I was pleased that it ending up working out all right.  I did a few small trials along the way, for one part or another of the process, and that helped.  It also helped that I had some experience at this point with the fabric after sewing the scarves.  (Double-clicking on photo should bring up a larger version.)

More about the process,  mostly for the quilters out there:  I pinned the batting to my design wall, and spray-basted the silk to the batting.  (I am a big fan of spray-basting; see this tutorial by Patsy Thompson.)  Then I trimmed the batting so that it was 1/4" less that the top all around. (See helpful tutorial by Susan Brubaker Knapp.)  I taped the cordoroy backing to the floor of my studio, right side up.  I laid the top and batting on it, pinned around, and then cut the backing to the same size as the top.

When I sewed the three layers together, I kept the batting on top, so that I could check that I caught a bit of it most of the way around the edge, using a 3/8" seam.
I left an opening, turned the quilt right side out, and then hand-sewed the opening closed.  How then to mark the quilting?  I didn't want to mark the silk, even with chalk.  I thought of quilting with the cordoroy side up, as it could be easily marked, but I thought it likely the silk would then bunch up underneath.  I ended up "marking" the silk by putting a line of straight pins where I wanted to quilt.  This had the dual benefit of not only marking the quilt, but keeping the 3 layers together as well.  (The top and batting were secured by the spray-baste, but the cordoroy needed pinning to those 2 layers.)  You can see the white heads of the pins in the photo below.

When I was finishing the quilt, I suddenly noticed that--minus the light green--I had once again been using the colors of my "Shelter" quilt.  Seems I'm not done with these colors. . .