April 07, 2011

A Monochromatic Quilt: Construction, Quilting and Reveal


So in the last installment our heroine had arrived at the end of a path that she knew well (piecing things together wildly and then rearranging them for days) and was looking down a path she didn't (sewing with precision a bunch of stuff that doesn't line up nicely). Throughout this process I ended up saying two things over and over to myself.

1) Stop obsessing
2) Why do you have to make such complicated quilts?

I had a lot of time with those strips to ponder that second one. And I think I came to realize that I simply enjoy the process of discovery. I think if I knew exactly what a quilt would look like before I set out, then constructing it would feel to me like merely a set of tasks. If I discover the quilt as I create it, overcoming challenges along the way, I feel like I'm on an adventure. It can be a painful adventure sometimes, and it certainly takes me a lot longer to make a quilt than other quilters, but I feel a thrill at seeing how it all plays out. Now, I'm not valuing my process over that of someone else who likes to go by a precise pattern. I'm just sharing insight into my own approach and motivations in this art form. So maybe the next time I get lost down a rabbit hole I'll be easier on myself about it.

This picture doesn't even make sense. But it's the only one I took during this stage and I just can't stand paragraphs and paragraphs without pictures. So there we are. 


My main process for constructing the top was to pick two pieces to sew together. I would start by making sure the two pieces were the same width or height as necessary by adding background fabric as needed.  Then I would measure the distance between them, add one inch for seam allowances and sew them together. And repeat. I hope I made that sound really really slow, because it was.

All the pieces remained on the design wall unless I was sewing them, and when putting them back on the wall I referred regularly to the picture on my phone, so things shifted as little as possible. The way I constructed it, the strips held their same absolute position on the wall, but of course when piecing with the background fabric, the strips got relatively smaller due to seam allowances, and the spaces between them got relatively larger. I was anticipating that when I laid them out so I had tried to crowd them together a bit closer than I wanted them to end up. 

I constructed long columns, and sewed those columns together. Sort of like this:


It was all indigo as far as the eye could see. Strips of all widths, varying by as little as 1/8". 



I guess I never took a picture of the completed top before quilting. When I thought about how to quilt it, I knew I didn't want to quilt over those strips. I wanted the light colors to be gleaming and sort of pop out from the dark, and I thought quilting over them would make them recede and flatten out. I decided to quilt with straight vertical lines in the indigo. But anytime a straight line traveled against a pieced strip, I would take the quilting off into each little indigo section I passed. This pushed the darker fabric back and let each blue pop forward a little bit: a subtle effect, but worth it I think. That technique is why I decided to use free motion quilting for the lines. It worked well enough for my needs, though there are plenty of wobbles. You can see the quilting pattern more clearly on the back.


I like this picture because it shows that "pop" that the blues are doing. Oh, and the kid is pretty cute too.


And that's how it turned out! I know, another floor picture. I swear it's as good as I could get with all this interminable rain and the shortage of adults and good lighting.


I love it. I kind of babbled about it when I brought it to show at the Portland Modern Quilt Guild meeting. It meant so much to me for other quilters to appreciate it. "It turned out great!" "It totally looks like the Matrix!"  Another quilter even hugged me over my excitement about this quilt. It feels so good to have people to share this kind of joy with.  It's fun to share it here too for the same reason!

A few of my friends called this "the waterfall quilt", so because of that and my warm love for the Pacific Northwest that is our home, I've named the quilt Cascade. It's 65x80 inches. I'm looking forward to seeing it on the wall tonight at PNCA with so many other beautiful quilts.  (Who knows, maybe I'll even get a straight-on picture!). Thanks for all the love and good vibes about these process posts, I'm so happy to not have any secrets from you anymore.

38 comments:

felicity said...

I completely love this quilt. That is all. Wait, no, that's not all. I also love the use of the terms "absolute" and "realitve" because I'm a nerd like that.

RamonaX said...

This quilt really did turn out great! Your process of creating your quilt as you go is a lot like mine ~ mistakes can end up turning into the best masterpieces because they are unique, and something you would have never thought of otherwise.

I was calling this the "Sparkly" quilt... but "Cascade" is much better! Can't wait to see it hanging tonight!

Jessica said...

I love your quilt, your post, and your process. thanks for sharing with us. the best was this line though, "the shortage of adults and good lighting"
i suffer the same shortage over here and it makes me wonder why I even try to keep up a quilting blog. some day somebody should write a post about the husbands (or babysitters, grandmothers, etc)behind the quilts in the photos..

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

Congratulations - a beautiful quilt and the name suits it so well ! I love the colours.

The Vegetarian Hunter said...

Its awesome! You did such a good job! Isn't it fantastic to have such a wonderful quilting community around? I don't know about you, but when I talk to my husband about quilting his eyes glaze over or he turns up the TV! I do not know what I would do without this blogging/quilting community. Thank you for sharing your great quilt!
Cheers,
Carolyn

NorahS said...

It is matrix-y! I love that you shared the whole process, frustrations and all. It is great in the pictures but I'll bet it is stunning IRL.

Creative Mom said...

I love how you really captured the movement you were inspired by in the quilt. I can't wait to see it tonight!

Kitty said...

WOW! Like any great mystery - it's all in the ending - and what an ending! I LOVE IT! I can see "Matrix" and "Cascade" - but I thought of "Tetris" when I first saw it. (Probably showing my age with "Tetris", huh?)

Debbie said...

Excellent details on your design process...I enjoyed your thought evolution, and your "discovery" about the adventure in letting the quilt tell you where to go. I've experienced this and know the connection you feel with this quilt. The quilt is dynamic and wonderful. Value is the word for this one, that is what gives you the pop and zing. You captured it beautifully...no easy task. Just take a bow tonight and enjoy all the raves.

Vicki W said...

What a great quilt!

West Michigan Quilter said...

Stunning! I just love it.

Patchwork and Play said...

A great name for a great quilt!

Sewgirl said...

Wow...what a designer you are. Such a lovely quilt, and a very appropiate name. Great job!

Deborah said...

Makes me think of stalactites - i have been looking for ways of interpreting our caves in quilts - thank you

Cal said...

Excellent!

Bitchisima said...

A zillion extra points for making it up as you went and yes it was a pain in the rear but worth it, no?

Gene Black said...

The process of discovery is a wonderful thing. I am glad you are enjoying it.

Cascade is beautiful and the name suits it well.

WillieburgScrapper said...

WOW!!!! The final result of all that work is absolutely STUNNING!!!! It's like falling stars- perfect for "dream time".

Mama Pea said...

I left you long comments on your two previous posts, but they didn't take. I am so sorry. I am trying to learn my new iPad. This turned out awesome! I have always been a pattern follower. I've just begun to experiment with art quilting. It's really freeing, isn't it?! I love the negative space you created with the indigo. So so cool!

Suzan said...

LOVE this quilt!

Elsa said...

it is really amazing Christina, your love of putting things together shows!

P. said...

Cascade is the perfect name. I love this quilt! It's just awesome.

Heidi said...

awesome

MariQuilts said...

Wonderful quilt....I love that you shared your process.

Dan R said...

This quilt is wonderful and inspiring. Thanks!

Jeane said...

Wow, incredible quilt. I love modern art and everyone will once they see your quilt. Congratulations on a wonderful project.

Venus de Hilo said...

Fabulous quilt! I just discovered your blog by clicking through from your flickr pic. Fun how very different your quilt is from mine, yet I'm nodding my head at the paragraphs about your process. Couldn't agree more that it's the discovery of where the quilt wants to go that's so addictive.

Jules said...

Just discovered your site and am enjoying sifting through the archives! Love this quilt, I really like the bold look and the way your eye is drawn down with the 'popping' blue. Great job!

Zegi said...

I definitely see the Matrix influence. This turned out really cool. Congratulations!

bluesquarequilting said...

This is a fabulous quilt ! Well done !

Kay Lynne said...

I think your quilt is really neat! Thank you letting us know how you came up with the finished product. I love the picture with the cute kid :) Just wait--that cute child will be helping with the creative process when they're older!

Heather said...

It is amazing, you should be so proud of it!! I love it :D

crossroadsquilts said...

I love it! Your final design is cool and it does kind of remind me of the matrix!

Bari

Wendy said...

Your quilt is awesome! I would love to make one in lime green and black!hmmmmmm.......

Jenny said...

This quilt is amazing! love it!

Rachel said...

Excellent idea, thanks so much for sharing!!

Elle said...

I was having fun looking through Flicker tonight after the PMQG meeting, trying to put names/faces with quilts, and then I saw this. Wow! My fiancee said it was his favorite quilt of all the quilts I've ever shown him... a high compliment indeed! I'm so excited by a lot of your other ideas, but I still think I agree with him - this is completely amazing! Thanks again for the warm welcome tonight - I needed time with kindred spirits, and I sure found it. Looking forward to continuing to follow along in the blogosphere and will plan our next visit to PDX around a PMQG meeting!

Kathy4aday said...

Love this quilt! I am sharing your link on my FB page!

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