Monday, 31 August 2009

Quilting Quandary - Part 1

Since my return to Canada, I have been battling a small quilting quandary.

Remember my Flying Birds quilt?


My next class is on the 18th September and in preparation for this session, I am supposed to appliqué the 5" borders around my quilt with a snaking vine, leaf and flower design (using the hand or machine technique of my choice).

First of all, here's a quick word about me and appliqué:

1) I have not attempted to do this before, so I am not feeling very confident (even though I attended a 3 hour class that showed me how to do it)

2) I am extremely unskilled and slow at hand sewing. In fact, I suspect that my skills only rate marginally higher than the hand sewing ability of an animal without opposable thumbs.

The second point becomes a more concrete problem when you consider that my overall quilt top is 37.5" x 48" and you take into account the fact that I preferred our tutor's hand sewn sample over the machine stitched ones produced during our last class.

To start with (in June), I was a bit worried that I might be trying to bite off more than I could chew. So, in order to give myself the best chance of success, I took my fabric and sewing notions with me to the UK in June. I hoped to get a head start and baste all of my appliqué shapes while I was away.

Did I manage it? Nope. True to form (and every previous summer break when I have packed several knitting projects and not ever picked up my needles), I returned to Canada without even unfolding the fabric. Yet as soon as I stepped back through our Canadian front door in mid August, the 18th September deadline started to prick my conscience.

So I duly took off to my studio and, to help me decide whether to blunder on with the hand sewing idea or give in and resort to using my machine, I produced my own appliqué test:


Even though my hand sewing was not great, I was still drawn to the hand sewn blind hem stitch. Okay, so far so good. I had my design, I had done a test and selected a hand sewn stitch. I just needed to get on with it.

So I did. Or at least, I tried. Honestly, I did. However, I came unstuck. I think that I must have suffered a quilting epiphany. It poleaxed me, it did - right at the time, that I needed to be hand sewing a snaking vine and 85 curvy leaf and vine shapes to my blooming quilt (at about the speed of light).

What was my epiphany? Well, it seems that making a quilt is much more of a journey (both in terms of design and head space) than it is a straightforward 'make as instructed' project.

Yep, really. As a result, I have got bogged down and progress has ground to a halt while I try to work out how to move forwards. Not good when you consider that my September class gets closer with every passing hour!

In short, this is what I have come up against:

  1. Design - I was not comfortable with the way that the border design worked visually with the centre of my quilt, after I pinned on the snaking vine
  2. Headspace - my head is in a different and more positive place than when it was when I started working on this quilt. I would like to incorporate something that balances the meaning I managed to sew into this quilt before I went away on holiday.

Bear with me, I do realise that this may take some explaining.

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