I started Redux about a month after I finished Quilt. no 016, back in August of last year. I waded through several issues with several sewing machines, put several quilts in front of it in the hand quilting queue and then spent about 6 months hand quilting it. To say it’s been a long haul for this one is an understatement. It’s my first finish for 2016, despite the fact that we are well into June.
Being so far removed from the process of piecing the quilt meant that I struggled to write about it, especially since I didn’t take very many notes while composing it. I wasn’t really try to express anything through this quilt; simply trying to parse out what makes the Floating Squares score so successful and how to extend that beyond the basic instructions.
I set myself the technical challenge of working with printed fabric that was originally cut for another project. I avoid printed fabrics in general, as I tend to see fabric as palate of paints and I have a hard time figuring out how to use prints in a way that makes them my own. This printed fabric, shweshwe from 3 Cats by DeGama Textiles, was a generous gift. It felt quite special and I wanted to show it off. To highlight the fabric while keeping with my personal aesthetic, I paired it with white, gold and indigo solids. Safe choices for me but reasonable, since I was exploring something new.
I was thinking about scale and value; each “block” has a light, medium and dark fabric, each of which vary in size. As a result, there were many different sizes and shapes of blocks and I used indigo to fill between the blocks while assembling the quilt. I hand quilted it, closely stitching in the indigo to create texture and to further push it into the background. I loosely echo quilted the squares to make them float into the foreground. The binding was pieced from leftover blocks to ensure the visual movement is uninterrupted. The batting, 2 layers of vintage feedsacking I had hanging around, was probably not the best choice for the quilting pattern and technique but it does lend a nice drape and heft to the quilt.
All of this came together to create a composition that does not let the viewer’s eye rest. The eye bounces around the quilt, unable to pick a spot to land on. It has several distinct patterns that emerge from the piece, depending on what fabric is seen as the primary value. By using such varied blocks, the quilt block is removed from the notion of the traditional quilt grid and assembled into a quilt that is self-similar but unpredictable.
Redux also set the stage going forward; I found something in this quilt that felt important to continue exploring. I like the lack of central focus, a big change from my previous quilts.While the quilting is simple, it stretched my notion of how the quilting lends to stronger cohesion of a finished quilt. I have always been compelled by using lots of disparate pieces and figuring out how they fit together to make something bigger. This quilt gave me framing for how to do that moving forward.