Friday, February 12, 2016

Something more, nothing less

The last of 2015 and a great way say goodbye and thanks.

This is the 5th quilt of this year that was made entirely from scraps. While the other 4 were solids only projects, smaller in scale, this, the largest of the projects, is made entirely from prints. Since I sew less frequently with prints these days, it's taken a few years to accumulate the raw material. The prints scraps drawer was large and I sorted (mostly strips and variations of rectangles) into ROYGBIV piles. The whites/grays and blacks were reserved for the negative space.

I posted while I made and reflected too. I hatched 2 plans. One to make a quit from the scraps and, then to share whatever was left over with whomever would take them.

I started piecing the week before the terrible events in Paris.  By the time I got to purple I was struggling with the color and the piecing, because my "selection" was limited in both volume and variety. Then, Paris happened and I just couldn't begin to understand that level of hatred and violence so I gave my pain to the purple and joined the sorrow of the  greater world as we all searched  for the over reaching question of Why? Right them and there, in the midst of literally picking up the pieces and trying to put something together,  I knew what had to happen.

The main color blocks are arranged more or less in a rainbow spectrum, discreet and isolated,  I'm sure the in-your-face symbolism is lost on no one.  The improv pieced negative space starts with dominant whites in the upper left (yes, more symbolism) and descends to black in the lower left (I know, I know). Some asked and the answer to why black and purple… it's because that is what it felt like when I was piecing purple… I was struggling and the world around me was dark and sad,  looking for answers and finding none.

Despite current events,  there is a bright side to the quilt as well, all those pieces have memories attached to them, memories that I got to revisit when making this quilt. Family quilts, graduation gifts, celebrations of babies and birthdays. A few pieces are from quilts that have hung in Houston and at QuiltCon. A piece or 2 from quilts that have won ribbons. The oldest piece is from a  quilt that my son (now 21) and I made together when he was in kindergarden.

I also learned something more about myself. Most of my "precious" fabric scraps were all orange, and what I deem precious may not be what everyone else holds dear.  No surprise there. I had more blues than any other color,  My greens were mostly yellow-green, bright green and an occasional blue-green. I include pink in the rainbow because  like it.  I had the least amount of purple.  I deliberately chose to piece the background negative space from light to dark because that's what made the most sense while I was making this quilt. I almost  had enough scraps to make that happen, but was a bit shy of my mark in the print selection of medium to dark grays. I did have enough scraps, just not enough variety of scraps.  It didn't stop me from cutting a few additional strips of gray prints from my stash to complete the quilt top.  Those extra scraps will now go to good homes.

The back is scrappy pieced from large stash pieces that have sat on my shelves for a time (OK, years). I learned something here too. I had in my possession large floral and floral/damask like prints in all the colors that I needed ( I wonder why?). I must at some time have desired to own these, and I have used them in projects past because they were all odd shapes (i.e.: not standard cuts). I think it funny that they are nearly all by different designers (yet all floral/damask), and I had just enough to piece this back. Coincidence? Maybe…… maybe not. I also pieced the back keeping the prints directional. Once done, I realized that the direction was not the way I intended. But I also let that go. I didn't have other fabric to use and those were the pieces that made the back. It is what it is and I am OK with that.

Besides the greater metaphorical putting together the pieces while making this quilt, I  literally picked up the pieces in its making. Pulled them off the floor where they had been sorted into piles by color. I know some people save precious fabric for a dream project, but the other thing I learned is those "precious" scraps are just a piece of fabric. Taken by themselves, they can't keep you warm, offer you comfort or even fill your belly if you're hungry. (I guess if they are precious enough, you could sell them piece by piece), but if you take all those pieces and make them into a quilt you can do all three of those things. You will have created something greater that can give comfort, can keep you warm and in the most desperate times could be sold or traded for food. Something to think on. Something that I won't forget.

Maybe this quilt was destined to happen, maybe I just had to wait long enough for all the pieces to fall into place.

74 x 86"
original design, improv pieced
made entirely from curated print scraps of various ages and makers. Nearly all 100% cotton, a few, cotton/linen blend.
Batting: 100% wool Quilters Dream
Thread: (piecing) Aurifil 50 wt 100% cotton in #2021
             (quilting) Aurifil 40 wt 100% cotton #  bobbin and top thread
Quilting: Bernina modified #4 stitch, stretched 4x, Bernina domestic machine 820.
Binding: scrappy color graded to match negative space, 2" SOG


  1. This is an EXCELLENT post for a great many reasons. Thank you!

  2. I love this quilt so much. Not only is layered with meaning and memories but it also does that Rothko thing that you and I have talked about. From far away, it is big blocks of color and value. Up close, it is filled with texture and enormous variation. Hear, hear on precious fabrics; to reach their potential, they must be used.

  3. This is a lovely take on quilt making. Ive not ever made a scrappy quilt (i do save scraps, but hand them off at guild meetings when the container is full), but this post just might change that for me.
    Thank you for sharing.

  4. Wow. Such a great post. Letting go is hard! Great finish.


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