All posts filed under “Quilting

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Quilt no. 009: Right of Way

I pieced and basted Right of Way in a second floor bedroom space, in an old house facing railroad tracks. Trains would pass by once or twice a day, making the single-paned windows vibrate and shake, the whistle loud and persistent. The staggered rail fence blocks felt like the clack-clack of train wheels on the tracks as they rolled through town.

Quilt no. 009: Detail

I had originally intended for this quilt to be my entry for QuiltCon 2015. I decided about half way into quilting it that wasn’t going to happen. The backing ended up being much harder to quilt that I originally thought and I was unhappy with the inconsistency of my stitching. I had imagined it to be much more carefully put together then this and I wasn’t really willing to put it up for judgement when it didn’t really meet my own rigid standards. I am my harshest critic, after all.

Quilt no. 009: Back with Binding

I pieced the blocks from Kona broadcloth, the strips were samples that I had ordered for another project and didn’t need anymore. There’s some vintage heathered blue cotton in there, a bit of fabric from my grandmother’s fabric stash. The backing is pieced from vintage brushed denim that I bought from a stash sale at a quilt show in PA. It is lovely and soft to the touch and gives this quilt an excellent weight and drape.

I had to leave that quiet space long before we ever left Missouri. I was upset and distraught that I was forced to give up the work space that was keeping me sane during a sticky Missouri summer, during a shitty 10 months of my life. In retrospect, the cool blue and grey and the simple quilting of this quilt was an answer to the chaos that I was living in, to the oppressive heat.

Quilt no. 009: Front

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Quilt no.008: White on White Four Patch

Quilt no.008

I finished my 8th quilt about a month and half ago and had spent the last few weeks contemplating how exactly I was going to photograph it. The last two quilts I’ve posted I haven’t been super thrilled with how the images of the quilts came out. They were rushed and not very thoughtful. I wanted something different with this quilt because I am quite pleased with how it turned out. I asked my close friend, Juli Jackson*, to help me figure out where I could photograph it while I was visiting her in Arkansas. She came up with a few great places but I was taken, particularly, by the texture of these ancient galvanized steel grain bins. She was generous in indulging and assisting me in the midday heat and humidity of northwestern Arkansas.

Quilt no.008: Details

With the exception of a few key mentors and endless Google searching, I’m largely self-taught when it comes to quilting. Every single quilt I make I learn something new, figure out a better way to do something and stumble through new processes and techniques. Since the other two quilts I’ve finished recently were very simple in their piecing, I wanted to go try doing something very traditional and simple. I thought the four patch block complimented my stash of vintage cottons pulled from feed sacks, pillow cases and nightgowns would create texture while sticking to the minimalist, old-but-new aesthetic I strive for. The hand-dyed border fabric, a gift from my aunt, added contrast without overwhelming the center square.

Quilt no.008: Stitches

The quilting design was inspired by Maura Grace Ambrose’s Idaho Quilt. I carried over the diagonal quilting from the center square into the compliment border to add more movement without making things too disjointed.

Quilt no.008: Back

I pieced the back from broadcloth cottons (the gold a gift, again, from my aunt; the grey KONA cotton in Ash) and this fabulous vintage camera print fabric that was a Christmas gift from my mother. I liked it so much I photographed it as much as the front.

Quilt no.008: Back Details

Overall, I’m really quite content at how this quilt and the images of it came together. I’m further on in my quilting journey at this point but I feel like this one got at something I’ve been striving for. I’m looking forward to working in this palate again, once I get my hand quilting queue freed up a little bit.

*Also: she’s a super talented indie film maker. She finished her first feature film, 45RPM, last year. It’s a lovely little movie and if it’s in your area, you should go see it.

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Quilt no 007: Low Contrast Log Cabin

Part of the process of learning how to do something new is accepting the fact that sometimes what you make sucks. This especially important in the creative process, I think, because it is a push forward towards being better at the work you’re trying to make. As Ira Glass has said, this is because of the gap between our skills and our taste.

I began to quilt because I needed to learn how to do something new that inspired me towards making stuff. Photography, while it is fundamentally important to my creative process, stopped feeling like a challenge. Right now, it feels like I know how to make the images I want to make. It feels like second nature. I was also tired of working in pixels, my final product a digital file on someone’s screen. It felt really disposable. Without the time I was putting into the process and final product, it felt just too easy.

Corner Detailing

I had so much trouble with this quilt and I fucked up in all the ways one could fuck up. Let me tell you, dear reader, about them. The initial measurements from my vector files were wrong when I planned the quilt. Because of this, I didn’t order enough fabric. Piecing took twice as long as I wanted it to. I didn’t order enough of the backing fabric and so I had to (again!) add more fabric to the backing after it was basted. The back was puckered when it was basted together. Putting the binding on was time consuming and I had to do three times before I got the damn thing right. I washed it and wasn’t happy with the way it looked when it first dried.

Corner Fold

Despite all this, making this quilt made the transition between my life in Pennsylvania to my life as it has been in Missouri much easier. It’s been a thing of consistency, comfort and escape. Quilting it let me relive the day I had a few of my favorite people over from my job at the farm. We laughed and ate together, something that we had did a lot of over the 9 months we knew one another on a day to day basis. It was a really great way to say good bye to some of the people that, despite the short time span of our community, are some of the best people I’ve worked and hung out with. Reliving that time in my life and remembering those people helped ease the general malaise and depression of living in the aftermath of a decision of questionable merit. It helped remind me that everything is temporary, even bitter cold winters, disagreements, disappointments and broken hearts.

Stitching Details

I made this quilt for Aubrey and I, as a housewarming and wedding gift for us. The pattern is a traditional log cabin (variation called rooftop, I believe) and like Quilt #006, I kept with the centered piecing and heavy sashing that I like so much from old Amish quilts. The center of the log cabin pattern is said to represent the hearth of the home and red felt like a good accent to the charcoal and not-quite-black-not-quite-blue of the color scheme. We’ve been married just over a year at this point (May 1st) and I finished it before the month was over. I put it on our bed the same week that he accepted a new job in Boulder, Colorado.

On The Bed

These events are largely serendipitous of one another. But having such a creative and meditative outlet kept me sane during months of my life that have been fraught with conflict, fear, sadness, anxiety, doubt and stagnancy. It let the bad stuff recede into the background for a little while. It’s not perfect but it’s imperfection allows it be useful. I’m less concerned about it being clean and free of dog hair and more interested in how wonderful it is to sleep under and how it will age.

Small Dog Approves.