So in the last installment our heroine had arrived at the end of a path that she knew well (piecing things together wildly and then rearranging them for days) and was looking down a path she didn't (sewing with precision a bunch of stuff that doesn't line up nicely). Throughout this process I ended up saying two things over and over to myself.
1) Stop obsessing
2) Why do you have to make such complicated quilts?
I had a lot of time with those strips to ponder that second one. And I think I came to realize that I simply enjoy the process of discovery. I think if I knew exactly what a quilt would look like before I set out, then constructing it would feel to me like merely a set of tasks. If I discover the quilt as I create it, overcoming challenges along the way, I feel like I'm on an adventure. It can be a painful adventure sometimes, and it certainly takes me a lot longer to make a quilt than other quilters, but I feel a thrill at seeing how it all plays out. Now, I'm not valuing my process over that of someone else who likes to go by a precise pattern. I'm just sharing insight into my own approach and motivations in this art form. So maybe the next time I get lost down a rabbit hole I'll be easier on myself about it.
This picture doesn't even make sense. But it's the only one I took during this stage and I just can't stand paragraphs and paragraphs without pictures. So there we are.
My main process for constructing the top was to pick two pieces to sew together. I would start by making sure the two pieces were the same width or height as necessary by adding background fabric as needed. Then I would measure the distance between them, add one inch for seam allowances and sew them together. And repeat. I hope I made that sound really really slow, because it was.
All the pieces remained on the design wall unless I was sewing them, and when putting them back on the wall I referred regularly to the picture on my phone, so things shifted as little as possible. The way I constructed it, the strips held their same absolute position on the wall, but of course when piecing with the background fabric, the strips got relatively smaller due to seam allowances, and the spaces between them got relatively larger. I was anticipating that when I laid them out so I had tried to crowd them together a bit closer than I wanted them to end up.
I constructed long columns, and sewed those columns together. Sort of like this:
It was all indigo as far as the eye could see. Strips of all widths, varying by as little as 1/8".
I guess I never took a picture of the completed top before quilting. When I thought about how to quilt it, I knew I didn't want to quilt over those strips. I wanted the light colors to be gleaming and sort of pop out from the dark, and I thought quilting over them would make them recede and flatten out. I decided to quilt with straight vertical lines in the indigo. But anytime a straight line traveled against a pieced strip, I would take the quilting off into each little indigo section I passed. This pushed the darker fabric back and let each blue pop forward a little bit: a subtle effect, but worth it I think. That technique is why I decided to use free motion quilting for the lines. It worked well enough for my needs, though there are plenty of wobbles. You can see the quilting pattern more clearly on the back.
I like this picture because it shows that "pop" that the blues are doing. Oh, and the kid is pretty cute too.
And that's how it turned out! I know, another floor picture. I swear it's as good as I could get with all this interminable rain and the shortage of adults and good lighting.
I love it. I kind of babbled about it when I brought it to show at the Portland Modern Quilt Guild meeting. It meant so much to me for other quilters to appreciate it. "It turned out great!" "It totally looks like the Matrix!" Another quilter even hugged me over my excitement about this quilt. It feels so good to have people to share this kind of joy with. It's fun to share it here too for the same reason!A few of my friends called this "the waterfall quilt", so because of that and my warm love for the Pacific Northwest that is our home, I've named the quilt Cascade. It's 65x80 inches. I'm looking forward to seeing it on the wall tonight at PNCA with so many other beautiful quilts. (Who knows, maybe I'll even get a straight-on picture!). Thanks for all the love and good vibes about these process posts, I'm so happy to not have any secrets from you anymore.