Friday, September 14, 2007

The Tara Quilt

Finally! A quilt is finished! A quilt is finished!

I made this quilt as a birthday present for a friend. (Tara, as I'm sure you could deduce from my oh-so-subtle pattern of naming quilts.) I could have finished it almost two weeks ago, if it weren't for my indecisiveness. I had the design completed and the sandwich quilted and still couldn't decide which way was "up." Was this a vertical composition or horizontal? Which side should be on top? There were, of course, four possibilities, and I couldn't choose. It didn't help that the options I was leaning towards were in direct opposition to the options Charles liked. What to do? The answer: let the future owner decide.

So, I bundled the quilt up and tied it a bow to present it to Tara on the day of celebration. She could then make a definitive ruling on up-edness, and I could bring it back home and add the hanging sleeve, binding, and my signature.

So, for the quilt construction itself. I experimented with fabric collage, which is a technique I have been wanting to try for AGES. Originally, I was going to create my own piece of fabric with this technique, then cut it into smaller circles and use to make an overarching design. I would then create a small quilt from this design and quilt the layers together. From there, I would cut the quilt up into small "inchies," or 1"-1.5" squares. My idea was that these could be hung somewhere together to show the overall design, but be individual units as well.

Clearly, this is not what actually happened. Here's what did: I created the large piece of fabric by collaging together bits of fabric, the strings I've cut off other bits of fabric, pieces of yarn, and angelina fibers. I sandwiched these bits between two layers of Solvy, and went to town stitching them together. This proved much more difficult than I had been led to believe. To start with, the Solvy was thin and didn't lend a ton of support; contents tended to shift during stitching, as the basting spray I used was useless in these circumstances.

Then, the moment of truth. I washed the finished product under some water, and presto! I had this delicious piece of fabric that was purply blue with sparkles. I couldn't imagine cutting this up into smaller bits. I wanted to keep it just like it was! That's when the project changed and I decided to layer it on top of a black background (the perfect color to set off the hues and sparkles in the collage) and quilt it. It would look like a piece of art that had been matted and framed. I was liking this idea more and more.

Again, it was easier said than done. If I would have planned this, I could have created the collage on the background fabric in the first place, rather than having to stich it onto the black fabric and quilt it at the same time. The fringe around the edge of the collage really caused problems all the way throughout the quilting process. It kept getting wrapped around my sewing machine foot, which meant I would have to stop sewing and CUT this beautiful fringe in order to free my machine.

In the end, of course, I am very pleased with how this turned out. I found myself, once again, wishing I could keep it. I'm beginning to wonder if this is the mark of a job well done.