Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Unwholecloth Challenge

I did finished (tardily) my entry in this month's guild challenge, and my long-suffering guildpals were gracious enough to let me turn it in late. So here are some pics of my entry, Chimera's Window:

The light in the garage plus my camera didn't want to pick up the stitching, so I snapped this shot to show a little of it:

And finally, my inspiration -- the not quite as colorful panes of my garage window:

Each "pane" of the quilt was made of two 13" X 9" pieces of batik fabric sandwiched together with batting, pinned, and then freehand-quilted. I didn't worry about marking or making a specific pattern with my stitches; I just followed some of the lines made on the cloth by the dye/discharge process.

Once I had quilting all six panels, I attached them to each other using black single fold bias tape, narrow between the panes and a wider strip down the middle. I also used the leftover wide bias to bind the edges.

Problems with this project: I measured and marked all my seam allowances, but after quilting the panels I didn't remeasure them to match up the front and back bias tape applique, which out of laziness I eyeballed. The result skewered the panels 1/16" off in a front section and 1/8" off in the back. I didn't press each panel after I did a spare one as a test; to me the piece looked better with a little puffiness to it. I also didn't prewash the bias (Wright's, pre-packaged) to save time, and it was stiff as hell to work with; next time, I'm cutting and making my own.

I had three yards of bias tape leftover, so I pinned it around the piece and fold-mitered the corners instead of cutting and sewing them. Again, laziness, but I happen to be good at it so it looks cut & sewn, and I ended up with only one seam to join on the bias, the look of which frankly I like better on small pieces like this.

I know I could have done better with my fabric selections for the back of the piece. The four predominantly yellow-green and two red-green pieces don't look as cohesive as the front, and a wholecloth quilt should be completely reversible.

I did manage to hand stitch, quilt and bind the entire piece; not one inch of it went under the presser foot. That's something I feel strongly about when it comes to wholecloth quilts. Traditionally they were 100% hand made, and while machine quilting definitely makes them flatter and neater-looking, I think we need to remember our roots as needlework artists and do some things like this by hand.

It was a neat experiment, and I'm glad I tried it. I don't think I'd do this method for a bed quilt, mainly because the bias strips would create a ridge-y feeling the the underside of the piece, but for a wall hanging, tote bag or other conservatively-sized project it would work well.

1 comment:

Carissa said...

It's lovely! I'm just learning to quilt and I haven't tried hand quilting yet. One of these days, I'll work up the courage. Thanks for the inspiration!