Thursday, 14 August 2014

Questions about process

My last post I promise because of the weekend at festival of quilts.

The oddest thing I found being in our display booth was hearing people discussing my quilt. It felt like I was eavesdropping on private conversations but because I made it I couldn't help myself.

However I had some brilliantly fun and engaging conversations over it as well and it brought up a lot for me about the process I use to make a quilt.

The short response is I don't have one. But that not completely true. However I don't plan in advance at all.

This quilt has been a long time in the making. Back in the 90's when I first got interested in quilting (even though I didn't try it for another decade) one of the first books I bought was Jinny Beyers Colour Confidence for Quilters.

This is where I first discovered tumbling blocks and thought they were fantastic. They appealed to the part of my brain that loved doing technical drawings at school with perspective. I never forgot that. When I did start quilting I realised that all those Y seams would be a nightmare.

Last year I had a tidy up of my stash and found a kona roll up that I had forgotten I had bought from Simply Solids years ago. It called to me and for no particular reason I thought I would use 3 strips to make some tumbling blocks which I did.

Somehow at this stage in my quilting career it wasn't as scary as I had thought it would be. I machine stitched them and didn't mark dots or any of the other things I had read about but I managed to judge the spot correctly to stop and start. I was so happy with them I did a few more.

I then went to my newly installed design wall and laid them out. I knew then I was going to keep going until I finished the whole roll. So I did.

Then I had to decide how to sew them together and I fumbled my way through that by doing them in sections. When I had them all done I thought about leaving the edges zigzag, trim the blocks or insert triangles. I'm not a fan of zigzag edges, couldn't stand the thought of cutting the blocks I had pieced so inserts were the only option.

I found a suitable solid in my stash and finally I had a top I loved.

It stayed like this for about 8 months and then finally I had time to quilt it. I purchased a frame last year and felt I had got used to it enough to start playing with this top.

I knew I wanted to go a bit mad on it and do lots of free form feathers. I had it loaded up for about a week during half term and I just had fun. I did all sorts of feathers and now and again tried something else.

No plans to it at all. It was like doodling over an enormous big sheet of paper. And when it was done and I unrolled it off the frame to see it all in one go I was delighted. The fun and joy I had in making it from that first tumbling block was there to see. I know there are flaws but I don't care. I see them and smile to myself and remember how relaxed I felt making it.

And that maybe is the biggest lesson for me. I made it purely and totally for myself just because I could. I didn't ever anticipate it would be shown, never mind at the festival of quilts. It had no purpose, it didn't have to be something that met a set of criteria or be technically proficient enough to be judged. I don't think I can work like that because it would stress me out entirely and my anxiety would be too much.

I work organically and see what happens. I know that is terrifying for some people, I know I met them this weekend. I'm not saying my way is better, but it is the way that works for me.

And in this case, it didn't turn out too badly did it?

By the way, I use a Juki TL-98 P on the frame. It's got a bigger harp which give me more room. I could have done this without a frame, but I loath basting which was the main motivator for me buying it.



pennydog said...

I love the quilting so much, that was a very good call!

Dorothy said...

Such a beautiful quilt, so nice to see it hanging at festival of quilts!

Gertie Pye said...

This quilt is beautiful Shevvy - and I hadn't seen the quilting from the back before - it's breathtaking! Wish I could have gone to FoQ this year - have only been once way back in 2009 so I'm sure it must be my year in 2015!

Shay said...

I think some quilts are just a joy to make and for me it's usually the ones where I just bumble along doing what I think will look good next ( not much of a plan - very free form and organic)

I really enjoyed reading about how your tumbling blocks came together, and what your process and thoughts were when you made it.

Its a truly lovely quilt.

Anonymous said...

Its stunning Shevvy and I'm sure all the over heard comments were lovely!

Lynz said...

Oooh, the quilting!!! It suits the organic way it was created so much! Very nicely done, missus - I'm not much of a planner, either. And I HATE basting. Coz I am terrible at it...

Leanne said...

This is a fantastic quilt, the quilting especially! I love the story of how you made it, I try to work like that most of the time too.

Michelle said...

OMG, Shevvy, that is just gorgeous! Great use of color and your quilting is simply fabulous.

I use a Juki too. :)

Two Wednesdays said...

Its gorgeous - I love the back as much as the front. Having fun making it seems a good enough reason to me to make it 😀

Anne-Lise at Rag, Tag, Bobtail said...

It is beautiful and the quilting is lovely!