Friday, February 25, 2011

After the Rain - Project Quilting Time to Vote

"After the Rain" 20.5" x 23.5" Project Quilting, Season 2, Challenge 4: Hardware Store, Feb. 2011

Quick recap of the challenge "Hardware Store":
1. Visit a hardware store. Look around, take some pictures, get a feel for the place.
2. Choose at least 3 different things to be your inspiration. You can use the actual items in your quilt, but are not required to do so. Be sure to tell us about the items and how they inspired you.

Coincidentally, when I saw the challenge for this week, we’d just returned from the hardware store where we’d bought a combination lock (to replace the one we don’t know the combination of). So I went back out.

We have less 4000 people in our village, but we do have a local hardware store, and its part of the Do It Best chain. It’s pretty small, only three aisle and a basement (which oddly enough is actually under the business next door and not under the actual store), so I didn’t need a lot of time to look around. I took a few photos and bought a few things then went home to analyze them.

All of my items had holes in them (I guess I was thinking it would be easier to attach them to a quilt if they already had a hole) and two of the items, the drain cover and the washer, were water related. Then I remembered that there are drain chains that can be used instead of downspouts.

I was ready to start. I knew I wanted to thread yarn and ribbons through the openings on the drain cover, so before I got any fabric out, I got out my yarn and ribbons to see what color combinations I had.

Since embellishments are the last things I put on a quilt, I don’t think about it much during the design stage, but since this was going to be the main focus, I thought I’d start here.

Once I decided which color family I wanted to work with, I started looking through the fabrics. Right away I found a batik fat quarters that had rows of circles which reminded me of drain chains, and two batiks that co-ordinated with it. No need to keep looking.

I figured out the fabric layout quickly, the width determined by that fact that the bottom piece of fabric was a fat quarter, so I just used it all. I pieced the fabrics then started quilting.

The quilting starts at the top with straight vertical lines on top of some of the “drain chains,” then the quilting moves through the thin yellow pieces still as straight lines but this time at angles following the blue printed patterns (more noticeable in the close up photos), and then the quilting moves into the main part of the quilt and the lines are free motion curves following some of the patterns on the fabric and they go all the way down to the bottom of the quilt, representing the way water would travel into the earth. I don’t do a lot of free motion quilting, but it seemed appropriate for this quilt.

I didn’t want a visual binding at the edges so I used a facing technique that I’d just learned, one which makes the corners less bulky.

"After the Rain" detail

For the embellishments, I “sewed” gray cording on the drain cover to soften it visually and also threaded several pieces of yarn and ribbon of varying lengths then sewed it on to the quilt. This is the only item that I bought at the hardware store that I used on the quilt.

The embellishment in the upper left corner was made by cutting a piece of cardboard the same size as my washer and wrapping yarn and ribbons around it. I didn’t want to use the actual washer as it was pretty heavy and I didn’t want the extra weight, but I think it’s obvious that it was inspired by the washer. Since the fabric had printed chains on it, I didn’t feel the need to attach the chains to this quilt.

One of my quilting friends admits that hardware stores are her second favorite types of stores, after fabric stores of course. I don’t think I’d go that far, but I do have many items purchased from hardware stores that I use with my quilts including the hanging rods and picture hanging wire.

While working on this challenge, I thought of the many hardware items I used for displays at art shows including: chains and curtain rods (my first display system), pegboard (my second display system), mesh tarps (my third and hopefully final display system), rope, bungee cords, plastic tubes filled with concrete (to use as weights), and removable blue tape (which I use for almost everything).

More about After the Rain

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Click on any of the photos to see them larger.

To see the other entries, go to the Hardware Store page.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

not even the rain: a love poem - Project Quilting Time to Vote

At left: "not even the rain: a love poem" 19" x 26" Project Quilting, Season 2, Challenge 3: Be My Valentine, Feb. 2011  

Quick recap of the challenge "Be My Valentine":
1. The inspiration is Be My Valentine.
2. The main colors of your project will be something other than red or pink although you can use small amounts of red and pink.
3. You cannot use the word "Valentine" on the front of your project but you may use it in the name.

First I started thinking about Valentines and ways people express their love to another person. I thought about love letters, and specifically classic love poems. I decided to include part of the poem “somewhere I have never travelled” by e.e. cummings, which my husband wrote in a love letter to me when we were dating.

Closeup of poem and ginko leaves

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes and opens;
only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands 

Closeup of the clover and blue flowers

Next I came up with a few design ideas then went into my fabric stash to see what I had in green, blue and purple that made me think of romance. I found a piece of fabric that had 7 different floral and leaf images, so I decided to make a quilt that incorporated items that someone would keep to remind them of their love including the second and final stanza of the poem, some ribbons, heart-shaped beads and charms, a little key and a small bag with a pair of hearts inside.

Closeup of the fern and rose bud

I fussy-cut the floral and leaf fabric (using the leftover piece for the label on the back), printed the text that I wanted to add (the poem and text in two other places). I pieced a thin grayish-green inner border and a yellow/green/blue/tan batik for the outer borders.

Detail of hearts inside a sheer bag on the fern quilt

The six pieces were sewn with a pillowcase binding and then top stitched around the edges. I did quilting stitch-in-the-ditch on both sides of the inner border then quilted around the flowers and leaves. I even added some hand quilting some of the leaves to give them definition.

I wanted to use some fun fur to soften the edges and I wanted it along the outside and not on top of the quilt so I used a zigzag stitch to attach it. Then I added my embellishments.

The final step was to use beads to connect the quilts both vertically and horizontally. (The heart-shaped bead on the second quilt on the right side is actually a navy blue, although it looks black in the photos). The handing rod hangs from a cream colored ribbon.

More about not even the rain

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Click on any of the photos to see them larger.

To see the other entries, go to the Be My Valentine page.