Story Challenge: Letter “Q” – Quilting

I already did a Q on Queen Anne’s Lace and I had thought about quilts when Frizz posted this theme, but all of my quilts are up north and I don’t have good photos of them in my photo library. I had forgotten about this pieced wall hanging that I have here, in plan view over where I sit every day and blog.

This is one of my favorite works. I made it several years ago using the color technique of Jinny Beyer and patterning it after one of her quilts in one of her publications. She is a well know quilt artist and teacher.

This hanging is only the pieced portion of a quilt and is hung on canvas stretchers. It is a variation of the pattern “Storm at Sea”, one of my favorites because there is so much movement and the appearance of curved lines even though all pieces are cut and stitched in straight lines. Cutting and stitching curved lines for a quilt is very difficult because of the stretching when cutting and stitching curved edges – that can result in a quilt top that doesn’t lay flat. There are enough potential problem when sewing hundreds of small pieces of fabric together without dealing with curved, stretchy edges.

I started by cutting hundreds of pieces of the fabrics I had chosen and sewing them together to form two of the three small squares that are combined to make this pattern. I knew how to piece them together using light and dark fabrics that would be so important in drawing they eye through the finished piece to form the illusion of curves and shapes. I didn’t have a clear idea as to the flow of colors so I had to make lots of small squares with different color combinations to make sure I had a good sample to draw from as I established the overall pattern of colors.

I had an image in my mind that I used to pick my fabrics and in designing the layout. One of my favorite places on earth is a campground on Lake Superior. I spent many hours with my small children on this stretch of narrow beach with the deep, very cold waters of Lake Superior in front of me and the lush green forests of northern Michigan behind me. This park is situated so that I was able to watch many sunrises as I was drinking my coffee on the beach and then see beautiful, orange sunsets late at night. I went through some very stressful periods in my 30’s and this was the place I would take my mind when I needed to escape my burden, find peace for my mind, and release the stress my body carried. I wanted to bring that place into my home.

After I had the small squares sewn, I started laying them out on a flannel board. It took me several weeks of moving squares around and making new squares with the right color and fabric combinations. I needed to arrange them so the contrast of light and dark moved the eye to form curves, create the diamond shapes, and to move around the entire piece. I also needed to portray the dark blue water, the green forest, and the sunny, sunset hued sky. Frequently when doing a quilt top, the fabrics are chosen to form the pattern and then this repeated throughout so that it is uniform and perfectly depicted. In this case, I was wanting to create an illusion of sea and forest and sky so sometimes fabric choices sacrificed pattern for artistic need.

When I was satisfied with the layout, I sewed and added the 4-pieced squares that are in the middle of the diamonds. Then I was able to sew all the smaller pieced squares together, making sure that all the seams lined up perfectly so the viewer’s eye doesn’t get stopped by a small zag as it moves along the lines created by the light and dark and color and pattern of the fabrics. As you study these images you can see how intricate the pattern is and I find people who visit frequently get lost in the viewing. I have never tired of it and find that I still sit for long periods of time following the patterns that were created.

This last photo shows you some of the many fabrics I used. I love fabrics and use them as an artist uses paint. Sometimes I go into my stash of fabrics and just look at my favorites and hold them to my chest. It is so much fun seeing how different fabric designs impact on appearance of color saturation and how a touch of different color can change how a small piece works in the overall pattern. When doing this project, sometimes I had two squares with the same two fabrics but one would work and the other not, just because of how the piece caught the fabric pattern. When using paints, they can be mixed to create light and shadow and flow from one part of the picture to the other, but with quilting different fabrics are used with colors that match and contrast creating illusions of blending and movement.

I hope my story of quilting has inspired you to think about how you use color and pattern and light and dark in your artistic creations. If you have an old post or do a new one, please paste the URL in a comment below so we can ping back. I look forward to reading your posts.

For an opportunity to join the fun of Story Challenge: Letter “Q” click here.

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15 Comments »

    • Thanks you. It isn’t hard so go for it. There are lots of good books and classes available. I have the most fun picking out fabrics and cutting them up. Putting all those pieces together can get a little tedious but then that is true of most things in life.

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