Sunday, May 30, 2010

I've been bad... I know...

It's been a long time since I've posted anything.  But that's because it's been a long time since I've done any quilting.  I haven't been feeling inspired or creative for months now and it's time to break the cycle.  And I know why I feel this way.  The truck quilt is scaring the crap out of me.  This is the first time I've tried something like this and I'm afraid that it won't live up to the picture in my head.  So I guess if I don't work on it I won't fail, right......? 

So what I'm doing to get myself motivated is finish up some of my other projects to boost my confidence. 

My Oriental quilt is almost finished.  I want to show this quilt in some local shows, so I'm going to try blocking a quilt for the first time.  If you're not familiar with blocking, it's taking a wet or damp quilt and stretching and pinning it to the desired dimensions on a flat surface.  This enables the quilt to be square and hang flat.  I wasn't familiar with blocking so I watched a DVD of Karen McTavish blocking a quilt.  I tried it with the help of my husband and it was a dismal failure!  The quilt ended up not being square on the first try.  Then we tried blocking it using my husbands suggestions on how to keep the quilt square.  This caused the quilt to be stretched out larger than it's original dimensions.  This caused the appliqued tree trunk to pull away from the quilt.  I was devastated.  We pulled the pins out and I put the quilt away for a the rest of the night and drank a glass of wine.  The next day I tried again.  This time, I measured out the final dimensions and marked those dimensions on the foam boards I was using.  I started with the corners and pinned those, then the pinned the centers.  From there, I pinned each opposite side.  It worked perfectly!

It's amazing how much easier it was to trim the quilt after blocking the quilt.  It ended up sqaure and flat.  Next comes the binding.....

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Oriental Art Quilt

Just after Thanksgiving, I completed the quilting on the oriental quilt I had been working on for about a year.  Yes, a year!  This is a quilt that I started in order to try out a discharge dye technique I saw on Simply Quilts.  The technique makes an awesome 3D effect.

I was really pleased with how the quilt turned out so I took it to work to show to some of my coworkers before it was trimmed and bound. 

There is one coworker in particular that really enjoys following my quilts.  His name is Peter.  About 2 years ago his daughter Tammy died.  She had been very sick for a long time and his wifes full time job was taking care of their daughter.  After their daughter died, Mihn (Peter's wife) was having a very difficult time as you can imagine.  Her entire life for the past 20 some years was taking care of Tammy.  Suddenly there was a gigantic hole in Mihn's life.  One of Mihn's skills is sewing.  So Peter found a group that gets together regularly and makes quilts as a way to work through their grieving process.  Peter is in IT and likes computers so he bought a program to design quilts.  He designs the quilts, chooses the fabrics and Mihn makes them.  How cool is that!  The quilts are usually charm fabrics with Tammy's favorite cartoon charaters.  They want the quilts to be used and cuddled. 

So I pinned the oriental quilt to my office wall and Peter came over to see it.  As he examined it he talked about how this quilt is an art quilt, not a quilt like he and his wife make.  He kept finding subtle things to look at, like the bands of pebbling that draw your eye over the quilt.  He then said that while he appreciated the quilt and it was beautiful, it wasn't one he would want in his house.  The quilt is dark.  The tree looks like death or something dark.  But there are small sprigs of life on the tree.  He said that his life has been this quilt at various times.  To him, this quilt says "Hope."  The kicker is that just as we were finishing this conversation, another coworker from the IT department came in and asked what the quilt said. (The oriental words)  Peter responded, "The question is, what does the quilt say to you?"  She looked at the quilt and said, "Hope."

Wow!  Understand that I had no intention of having this feeling in the quilt.  This quilt was literally an experiment into the discharge dye technique and I intended it to be a happy quilt.  I chose the oriental symbols to be some of my favorite things... Husband, God, Tree, Leaf, Dog, etc.  The tree was a complete screw up on my part.  I had originally designed the tree to be reaching up toward the sky.  But I had drawn the limbs incorrectly on the fusible web.  Instead of the limbs reaching up, they were drooping down.  When I put the limbs on the design wall, it looked like a Halloween tree!  I was pissed!  So I put it away for several months.  When I returned to it, I did some creative cutting and added some small limbs to make the tree look less depressing.  At this point the quilt started talking to me.  I originally was going to have a lot more flowers and leaves on the limbs, but when they were there, it just didn't look right.  So I kept the flowers to a minimum and made sure the leaves stayed buds. 

All of this to say that sometimes a quilt has a life of it's own and it ends up being so much better than you intended.