Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Pandemic Pieces


So much about quilting is about making do, making the best of the scraps life gives us. Faced with a pile of batik scraps, leftovers from making masks last spring, what's a quilter to do?

When choosing fabric for a quilt, I think of them as guests at a dinner party. Each one needs to stand on its own, be interesting and add to the conversation, without fighting with anyone else. When choosing fabrics for masks, I was looking for quiet prints, somber even, suitable for men who live in blue jeans.

There certainly was a calming aspect to "crumb" piecing the top. Just pick up two pieces of fabric, right sides together and sew along the straightest edge. Trim, press and repeat. 

This is not how I usually work. I'm used to planning each step before I even look at fabric. I like to know where I'm going. I'm a researcher. I believe this might also be known as "control issues". Letting the quilt grow on it's own was a major leap of faith for me. I consoled myself by remembering that I was sewing with stuff that would have been tossed (no, I'm not a scrap saver), so nothing would be lost except for time, and we had plenty of that with the new lockdowns.

I have a bin of orphaned applique shapes, and jars of glue-basted circles. Continuing with the plan to use just leftovers, it was helpful to have a cache of applique shapes that didn't make it into the original project.

Still resisting an overall plan, it didn't take very long to stitch the applique bits in place.

It's been my goal for a while, to try to work outside my usual box. I'm too literal. I really admire abstract work, all while fighting the urge to straighten it up. This crazy quilt seemed to be a good place to play with embellishing just for the sake of doing it.

At first there was great progress, as I embroidered and beaded the obvious choices. But it became clear to me that I was still constrained by the shapes. Don't get me wrong, I like what I've done here, but it doesn't feel very bold or adventurous. 

It's been languishing now for a couple of months. There comes a time in every project when I become too attached to it. I like what I've done so far, and each new step is fraught with the fear of messing it up. It's always dangerous when the work becomes too precious.

I've done the obvious things, the safe, inside the shape things. It's time to do the weird, wild and wonderful things that happen outside my box. It may be awful in the end, but if I learn something in the process, it can hardly be a wasted effort, right?

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes the work, like people at the dinner party, becomes precious for reasons other than liking or disagreeing or not liking and agreeing with. Okay does that make any sense at all. Sometimes that preciousness leads to something new in our own work as quilt makers. Somtimes it's precious as there is a deeper kinship because this work is getting us through something. Beth one thing I know about you is that having the conversation with this piece will bear good fruit. Sometimes conversations with people are much more difficult for there is an entrenchment in words, and ideas that leads to the fruit rotting on the table rather than being consumed, considered in all of it's beauty and nourishment. Yep, got that sentence backwards all the right words are there but they're out of the correct order. Treasure the preciousness of the piece, and remember sometimes keeping the peace isn't as easy as the treasuring. Also if none of this makes coherent sense