Ditto for inset seams. They do add a few more steps to a finished piece, but the extra effort was totally worth it. They showed up in projects late 2014 (both quilts and quilt blocks). Looks like I wasn't the only one intrigued by their striking impact- the judges at QuiltCon liked them too. If you want to give them a try, I have a tutorial here.
But it's 2015 now, and I was looking again for that something that I would use again and again in different ways, perhaps even mixing it with inset seams and metallics. And I found it. It's magic, truly.
Let me first say, that this quilt was conceived in my head, but I quickly realized, it was not a quilt I could just go and piece. I did (gasp) draw a picture on a piece of note book paper. I then (while in the car but not at the wheel) transferred this design to graph paper (free hand). I toyed with colored pencils, but abandoned that because I kept changing my mind on the colors. I even decided on a size before starting. I did some basic counting and calculating and I did follow (for the most part) my own directions. I cut some pieces the wrong size, and forgot to cut other pieces all together- (not surprised at all). I encountered errors on the way (ha), made some design revisions to make the piecing more practical and ripped out several areas more than once when I just couldn't get the parts to align. I persevered. I mixed mediums, toyed with transparency and pulled out some skills I had become familiar and comfortable with over the last year. In the end I made a quilt. Once again inspiration comes from something utilitarian….. derived once more.
I did my research, called manufacturers, spoke to people who really didn't understand what I was looking for until I decided to just tell my story ("Hi, I'm a quilter and I'd like to use some of your material in a quilt"), to a lovely man who listened and then sold me some. Luckily he was open to me not buying the entire run of fabric (I think somewhere in the arena of 1000 yards). I just wanted a little, you know to try it, see how it worked. He sent me a small sample. I touched it (lovingly), showed it to my friends and family, used a flash light on it, ironed it even. I was smitten. So I called him back and talked myself into 2 yards. I talked him into 2 yards too, but at the price I was paying 2 yards was a HUGE commitment. It is the MOST expensive fabric I have ever purchased, I have big plans for this precious material, but first I needed to make one quilt and see how it went. I opted for minimal use, maximum impact, because one thing you need to know about this fabric before you start sewing with it, is that its one big drawback is sewing needle marks. Once you sew and make a needle hole, the hole is there forever, like leather, and paper, just way more expensive.
Derived inspiration No. 4
|Front, no flash|
there is a tiny inset piece in the lower right corner that is almost invisible without a flash.
|Back, no flash|
49 x 53 inches
original design (designed/pieced/quilted)
|Front, with flash|
The fabric becomes reflective (actually retroreflective- throwing the light right back at the viewer).
The fabric "changes" properties from dull gray to bright white!
top: retroreflective glass nanosphere fabric (seriously never thought I'd get to use that descriptor anywhere never mind in quilting). Without a flash the material is a dull almost pewter gray. With the flash, well it's magic.
|before quilting/ front. Yes, I got really excited when I turned on the flash.|
Kona 100% cotton solids in snow and shadow.
back: IKEA gray check duet cover, deconstructed, 100% cotton. Inset remnants of Kona cotton quilting solids and reflective material left over from piecing the top.
|Back, flash on.|
Threads: Metallics- Superior threads: silver; Marathon Metallic 3015 (white)
Cotton- Aurifil 50 wt, 100% cotton in: 2021, 2630, 1158, 2606, 4020, 1153, 2810, 2600
Mettler, 40 wt in 594
Batting: Hobbs heirloom 100% cotton
Quilting: dense straight line quilting with random areas of FMQ in the colorful insets with color matched threads all on a Bernina domestic machine (1630 as my 180 was in for service).
New things: reflective nano particulate material, pattern sketching, earnest attempt at direction following.
I used every little bit of that precious fabric. For reference the inset length is 1/4" the width, 1/8 ".
|pieced inset seams.|
|pieced inset seams with flash|
There is not batting behind this s you can see the piecing details.
Tried and true things: inset seams, inset binding, metallic threads, keen sense of adventure, more than occasional disregard of "directions".
|Inset seams all the way into the binding.|
Aurifil thread on the white, superior metallic thread in the gray.
A little sparkle makes this special.
Stay tuned for more projects using nano particulate reflective fabrics and reflective yarn (oh yeah, I talked my way into some of that too).