Silk Quilt – Just About Done

I had to take a break from hand stitching the hidden binding on the back. I’ve got it half done, I’ll finish the task later this evening. (My hand stitching isn’t fully back to where it was before my thumb decided to stop working, but I can control the needle much better than I could before the carpel tunnel surgery!).
I had intended doing a pillowcase backing but the backing silk fabric just would not stay flat and in place, so in the end I began the quilting starting in the centre and worked outward toward the sides, doing my best to keep the silk backing from sliding around. I tried pinning the quilt sandwich but couldn’t get the backing layer to lay flat so in the end I removed all the safety pins, just pinned the top and one side edge and then did my best to keep smoothing the backing as I stitched each quilting seam. A much more difficult task than I had expected. To get the unbound look I was after on the finished quilt, I did a hidden binding using some bronze embroidered silk fabric that came with the other two pieces, so it matched. I considered machine stitching the binding in place, but I like this unbound look with the quilting stitching coming to the very edges.

Silk Quilt – Top

When the quilting was finished the back wasn’t too bad, Still a bit of fullness in spots, but when steam pressed again it will be reasonably flat. And I like the embroidery in the fabric – it provides a bit of visual interest.

Silk Quilt – Back With Hidden Binding

Just two sides left to hand stitch – the label is already sewn in place.
The finished quilt is smallish when compared to most of my other quilts – similar width but shorter (my lap quilts are usually about 5 1/2′ long – this quilt is 55″). It’s still long enough to cover a person (maybe a shortish one), but it would make a nice hanging for a hallway, or bedroom.

Silk Quilt – Top Finished

Many years ago, I was looking after the UNICEF booth at one of our local Christmas Craft Fairs. Across from me was a quilter with a gorgeous silk quilt for sale. She’d collected silk ties and had cut bowtie shapes from the silk she salvaged. I loved it and wished I could have afforded it – but it was too large to be wall hanging and too delicate to use regularly on a bed. I admired it every day I sat there selling greeting cards.

I never forgot it and when a friend gave me a bundle of silk fabric she’d purchased in Singapore and which she had decided she’d never use, I thought, a silk quilt. I decided the bronze silk dupioni would make a lovely quilt background. I ordered a dozen silk fat quarters from Etsy a couple of years ago in colours to complement the bronze.

I wanted to do something modern and decided to mix some small piecing of the coloured silks to form strips on the diagonal and solid strips.

Silk Quilt

Finally finished piecing the top this afternoon. The central panel is offset to the top and left. The finished quilt size: 51″ x 56″. I had wanted to make it more rectangular but I just didn’t have enough bronze silk. I have a few small scraps but in order to keep the grain of the silk running top to bottom I had to piece the top and bottom strips so my size was limited by the amount of silk I could cobble together.

Tomorrow I’ll set up the quilt sandwich. I’m using a second of the pieces of silk fabric. I have enough for the backing, but I will have to piece it horizontally because it isn’t wide enough to do a single running length and I haven’t enough silk left to create a pieced strip. Besides the embroidery in the golden silk is enough detail and I will be careful to cut it between the embroidery designs so the seam, when pressed open, will be relatively unseen.

Embroidered Silk Backing Fabric

I really see this as a largish wall hanging rather than a lap quilt. If I’d had enough bronze silk, I’d have finished the quilt with a narrow binding, but because I don’t I’m going to finish the quilt using a “pillowcase” turn. I plan on quilting it stitching in the ditch from top to bottom and adding some more vertical lines where necessary in the border areas.

Still Here…

Wimbledon has taken over my life for the past ten days! I don’t watch all the tennis matches but I am interested in a lot of them. So my time has disappeared and I haven’t accomplished much except some sock knitting while I’m watching. The pair I’m working on has another two evenings of work left in them and then I’ll photograph them and post the image.

As far as quilting goes – I’ve started working on the silk quilt – It will consist of an offset inner panel constructed from solid strips interspersed with pieced strips (with the piecing seams going in opposite directions creating a sort of chevron effect). Before beginning, I backed all of the silk dupioni fabric with “Sewer’s Dream” (a high quality sheer, fusible, washable, polyester interfacing) – to stabilize the silk which otherwise frays dreadfully. I have enough strips, both solid and pieced, assembled – but I’m only about 1/3 of the way through assembling that inner panel. Surrounding that panel will be solid strips of the bronze background silk.

Under Construction

I don’t know why, but I’m having difficulty making much headway with this quilt. Tomorrow it’s the women playing at Wimbledon (I prefer watching the men play) so I should be able to get back to work on it.

Yesterday, I took a day off completely to visit with two friends who are attending the Scout Canada Jamboree being held in Nova Scotia this year. I drove out to the site to pick them up early in the morning, brought them back to my place so they could shower and do laundry. Then we went out for lunch, did a bit of shopping, returned to my apartment to relax, have tea, and a light supper before I drove them back to the campsite for the remaining three days of camping. Brave women, let me tell you – aside from the 5,000 youth (and 1000 adults) at CJ’17, there is mud, and long hikes to tents, meals and toilets, and ticks. They smuggled me into the camp to have a cursory look around – I was happy to get back home. I’m too old for that sort of outdoor experience although the youth and adults all looked to be having a wonderful time. My connection to Scouts Canada is that for the past five or more years I’ve been involved in the program development that’s been underway – these two women and I were the driving force behind the preparation of the Scouter Manual. Now that program implementation is in full swing, I’m just on the sidelines watching how the rollout is progressing. Hence my interest in visiting the camp.

Andrea, one of the women, was wearing her outdoor hat day before yesterday when a scout commented on the “face” on the side of her hat! Needless to say, I got a photo – here it is!

Face

A nice clear “face” it is.

So socks, and quilt – I’ll keep working at both and share photos when I have something to share. Men’s semifinals are on Friday, final on Sunday. Then about a month until the US Open and two weeks of disruption, again.

First Swim – Revisited

It turns out my efforts to represent the shading of the child’s body with layers of differently colored fabric was misconstrued and interpreted as “clothes” by the majority of people who viewed the piece. Very few spontaneously saw him as naked. This was because the contrast between the lights and darks was too great – an artifact of the limited pallet of flesh-toned shades of fabric I was able to assemble.

Original Piece


So I darkened the ligher elements with crayon and wax pastels and stabilized the shading using a hot iron which melts the applied surface wax into the fabric. Now the child is seen as naked. 

Child Darkened

I’m much happier now with how people are responding.

First Swim – Completed

Here it is – just done:

First Swim

It always amazes me how much finish work goes into one of these pieces – inner border, wide mitred outer border, backing, hidden binding, hanging sleeve. And a lot of it is hand sewing – I’m getting better at hand sewing, but it’s still awkward; I’m having trouble pulling the needle through with my thumb and first finger, especially if I’m trying to get through multiple layers of fabric!

Now to put the art quilting aside for a while and on to making pants.

This Week’s Work

Tuesday is fast approaching and I’m trying to get the last demonstration pieces sorted out for the art/landscape class.

Taking the idea of the “Portrait” piece – assembled from a range of cutouts of skin-tone printed fabrics, I decided to see what I can create based on this “At The Beach” photo:

At The Beach

One of the “secrets” of successful textile art (whether primarily appliqué or thread  painting or a combination of both) is simplicity. The point isn’t to reproduce the detail of the photo but to abstract/simplify it enough that you have a clear background and a subject. In this case, I’m removing dad and the other people and the land on the opposite side of the lake. I just want the nude child and his tentative steps toward to the water:

At The Beach II

So far, I’ve laid down layers of beach sand, set up the water’s edge, and covered the top of the background with fabric for the water. I’m place holding the child with a paper cutout on which I’ve marked the colour blocks – I think I can create him with bits of five fabrics representing the gradations of colour on his body.

The next step is to do a LOT of thread painting to bring out the texture of the sand and to represent the wind on the water. Then I’ll work on putting the child together – I’ve already added fusible web to the back of my flesh-toned fabrics so once I have set up the template pieces, I’ll cut them out and fuse them together.

Finished dimensions of “At The Beach” will be 12″ x 9″ with a hidden binding and no borders/framing.

Another sample I wanted to create was a “modern art” piece of the kind Melody Johnson does:

Banana Boulevard

Her pieces are often small (12″ x 12″), constructed from geometric shapes cut from either solids or hand painted fabric – pieced and appliquéd, usually with a hidden binding.

I just wanted to illustrate the technique – since I don’t use much in the way of solids I decided to dig out whatever prints/batiks I had in my “strips” box. This is what I came up with:

Dots

I still have to quilt the piece – I’m thinking I’ll quilt this starting with stitching in the ditch, then add more straight lines of stitching to fill the space; I’ll see once I’ve done the stitching along the seam lines.

Grey-Yellow III

Damn!

Just finished the top borders only to see in the photo that I’ve switched out two blocks and have then in the wrong place. So gotta carefully unstitch that area, and reposition those two blocks – not today. Maybe tomorrow.

Top Finished

Top Finished

Other than that, I’m pleased with the finished top. The grey-black gradation has worked; the yellow doesn’t shift the way I was visualizing it but it’s still effective, more or less. I certainly can live with that. I’m pleased with the points integrated into the border – that worked out nicely.

So now to come up with something for the back. I have a lot of yellow/grey blocks left over – I’m going to have to play with them on the floor to see what I can come up with.

Here’s where the blocks are reversed so the greys are in the wrong place:

OK, I couldn’t stay away from the sewing – I fixed the blocks:


Then I went on to the back – remaining blocks – a spiral:

I’ll fill in around it with the backing fabric – this large 8 x 6 block will get positioned offset toward one of the quadrants.