textiles · exploration · misadventure

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Upper left.

Upper left.

Upper left, closer.

Upper left, closer.

I love that upper left quarter of this quilt.

While laying it out, I tried to balance color, value, and composition.

Color, for me, for this, was almost easy. I love the harmony of red, yellow, and orange together, and I wanted those colors to be my base. Check!

Value, or the range from black to white, is key to generating movement in a composition, and I mucked about with it a lot. In fact, I cut out an entirely different fabric, initially, for where you now see the strong black/white/yellow fabric.

021It was a solid yellow, and was pretty with the oranges and reds. But it was just BORING.

I tried a lot of different layouts, took a million black and white photos, and came up with a layout most heavily weighted at the upper left corner, balanced out by the other three corners.

Potential. Possibility.

That upper left corner has heavy servings of the strong black/white/yellow and boxer shorts fabrics. Most of the boxer shorts fabrics are a color contrast, and have strong dark values. All of this combines to sort of “weight” this corner more heavily than the lower left and upper right, which have fewer bold and dark fabrics. You can really see it in the black and white photo, above.

Lower left.

Lower left.

Upper right.

Upper right.

And then there is the lower right quarter, where I purposefully threw a spanner in the works.


This is my first quilt, and though I had no idea how to either piece or to quilt stitch, I wanted a thank you, a tiny hommage to traditional hand-quilting, on a scale that felt manageable.

There is, therefore, one section pieced from dark-value scraps, and a nearby area that is hand-stitched in running stitch.


You know how I love a good rumpling.

This section is, honestly, so much more beautiful than the machine stitching on the rest of the quilt. (During which my machine was dying, but I don’t think that would have mattered.) It is so much more touchable, so much more relaxed. I’ll dream of a day when I can make an entire quilt stitched like this. After which my right arm will fall off.

There is also one square made of threads, spinning fiber, yarns—handspun and otherwise—and fabric scraps. It’s a little experiment from a water-soluble fusing phase I went through last year. I made some really COOL larger patches, I just don’t know what to do with them yet. This little one needed to go right here, right near the more hand-made portion of this quilt.


On a complete tangent, I also love this chicken fabric rather desperately, which became evident when I reviewed these quilt pictures and found, like, 50% of them contained chicken fabric. I really could kick myself for not buying the rest of the bolt when I found it for 50% off at Stone Mountain and Daughter.


042And then there’s the backing. It’s 100% cotton muslin, and I love its plain, rustic look. It’s a lovely contrast to the modern, commercial front, and the hand-stitching looks beautiful on it.

Overall, looking at this finished quilt, I realize it is a metaphor for my textile practice, the beginning of which was sewing boxer shorts for Matthew.

Around 2009-2010 he received about ten pairs of shorts in a small time frame (heavily weighted corner). Then I stopped making for a bit, because I had a major abdominal surgery and was sleeping oh, sixteen hours a day for a while (upper right, lower left corners).

When I recovered enough to be up and to interact with people, my work colleague Carrie came over and taught me how to knit, which not only launched one of my dearest friendships, but also launched me into knitting, then spinning, crochet, prepping my own fiber, helping to shear sheep, natural and acid dyeing, and quilting.

All of this activity is represented by the lower, right-hand corner of this quilt, which indicates a trajectory towards possible misadventure, but also improvisation, experimentation, surprise, and deeper exploration.

(For an earlier post talking about this quilt and its personal meaning to me, see here.)