I have made several traditional New York Beauty quilts in my time, but none quite like this! As my work has evolved away from traditional quilting I acknowledge that there are still elements that influence what I enjoy making now. Over the past few months I have had several different projects on the go and several of them have recently been finished. I haven't been able to share them for various reasons, but I am very happy that the time has come that I can at least share this one.
I have called it 'A New Dawn'. It is a double sided piece created from many layers of heavyweight interfacing and thread. It measures 16" by 20" overall and can either be suspended from a cord or positioned on a stand as in the photos above and below.
It has come to life as the latest piece made for the group '12 by the Dozen'. This challenge was based on the theme of New York Art Deco Architecture which was a fabulous stimulus to work from. There are so many beautiful shapes to use that it was rather like being a child in a sweetshop.
Eventually I settled on one of the most iconic buildings of them all, the Chrysler Building.
It was built for Walter Chrysler, the the head of the Chrysler Corporation, and served as the corporation's headquarters from 1930 until the mid 1950s. Built between 1928 and 1930, an era characterised by profound social and technological changes. Times were good and the economic boom of the 1920s led to a surge in the building of new skyscraper projects in New York City and for 11 brief months it was the tallest building in the world. Interestingly, although the Chrysler Building was built and designed specifically for the car manufacturer, the corporation did not pay for its construction and never owned it; rather, Walter Chrysler paid for it himself so that his children could inherit it. Read more about it on Wikipedia:
When the Chrysler Building opened in 1930 there were mixed reviews of the building's design, ranging from comments that it was inane and unoriginal to the idea that it was modernist and iconic. Personally, I love it.
Unsurprisingly I chose the triangular window forms to base my designs on. During my research I discovered that the entire top section (floors 65 to 77) of the building was fabricated from steel, brick and cement in situ. It must have been quite hairaising as it is over 760 feet up in the air.
The website https://chryslerbuilding.com/ has a fun slider that allows you to whiz up and down the tower (take a closer look at the gargoyles on floors 29 - 32 and 58 - 61 . They are incredible).
Using my own interpretive drawings of the tower section of the building I carved two lino blocks and printed onto a variety of substrates.
I scanned a few of the images and played about with different artistic effects using GIMP software (similar to Photoshop but free shareware). This is such fun and can easily consume hours of your time! I can imagine that having the manipulated images printed onto fabric could yield an endless supply of beautiful fabric but personally I prefer to print my own using more traditional methods, but for a fast way to explore possibilities it is superb.
Here are just two examples of the many I created.
If I ever get stuck for an idea again this surely is a go-to project as it has thrown up more ideas I have than time for.
After much exploration I eventually made 3 different print collections on fabric and added colour with paint, ink, dye and Derwent products. (unfortunately I only have photos of 2.)
Adding the dense stitch stitch to all these printed elements has taken a long time, especially as it is double sided so all the pieces needed to be carefully matched up. As a result only the piece on the left has so far been completed, the others are in the 'pending' department! I used Aurifil 12 cotton threads for the embroidery and the heavier weight thread has been perfect, giving a very interesting visual texture and enhancing the vibrant colour in the sections between the triangles.
The photo below also shows the striking classic New York Beauty design many quilters know and love. (Visit the Wnokyworld blog here http://willywonkyquilts.blogspot.com/2013/02/new-york-beauty-why-that-name.html if you would like to know more about the origins of the traditional New York Beauty quilt pattern.)
Once all ten sections were stitched they were then positioned into a sunburst arrangement and stitched together.
I am very pleased that this piece has been selected for the SAQA 'On The Edge' exhibition by Juror Petra Fallaux
Thanks for reading.
Sometimes a change is as good as a rest (apparently).
As I have finished all my outstanding quilt projects I thought it was time to use some fabric I bought several months ago on my last trip 'out' before being locked in at home. I was teaching at Midsomer Quilting and during the lunch break I spent my time browsing the shop with Birgitta. In the very back corner of the shop 4 rolls of beige fabric were propped which, had Birgitta not pointed them out, I would have walked straight past. They were not the usual quilting fabrics that De stocks, but instead some rather nice medium-weight linen. Birgitta explained that they were a 'one-off' purchase by De and lots of people were buying it for cushions. But I didn't see cushions - I saw a dress!
Three of the rolls were prints - one with beautiful bumble bees, one with goldfish and the third with very pale gulls. The fourth roll was plain - a perfect compliment for the prints. Not being able to choose my favourite I did the obvious thing and had 1.5 metres of each!
I bought a pattern and made a toile using some old fabric that I had bought for another project that never got made. I'm glad I did because it was a disaster! Despite checking and rechecking the sizes indicated on the pattern it ended up large enough to fit both me and my sister (admittedly she is slim) in together. It is a problem I have had before- I just don't 'get' how to make commercial patterns fit no matter what I try. Apparently it is partly due to this thing called 'ease' - but why I can't get it right I don't know.
So instead of battling with the pattern I dumped it (Would anyone like it ? It is uncut as I traced the pieces I needed) and went to my wardrobe instead and got out an old dress that still fits. It was made of a fabric with 1 way stretch so I wasn't sure if it would work, but I was fed up by now and so I just went for it.
I laid out the dress, traced off the pieces to make my own paper pattern. It was as easy as that. I decided on the bumble bee fabric for the first attempt, crossed my fingers and started.
To try to accommodate the lack of stretch in my linen fabric decided to cut all the pieces on the bias. It was a bit more of a fuss, but I eventually managed to juggle it so I had enough fabric for all but 4 of the panels. I had to a bit of patchwork on 3 of the side panels to get it all out of the 1.5 metres - but what's the point of being a quilter if you can't use your patchwork skills in a pinch? For the remaining 4 panels I used the plain linen, which I hoped would make a nice contrast. This is all I had left - which makes me feel very pleased, as I it is shocking how wasteful making clothing is.
With all the pieces cut I quickly sewed them up with the scary overlocker - it's a brilliant machine which thunders through fabric (and any stray finger or other stuff that accidentally gets sucked into its teeth) and gives the most neat and beautiful results. With the help of my new dress making form (the best birthday present ever) I made the dress from start to finish in just under 2 days.
I am very pleased to say that at the first try on most of the dress fitted perfectly which I thought was a great result. A small tweak to reduce the amount of fabric in the zip panels by 2cm was all it took. I did wonder about adding sleeves - but as I didn't have enough fabric I decided to just make some bias strips and line the arm holes with that. It worked beautifully. The dress is now on the dummy hanging for a week so the hem will be nice and even when I stitch it.
I think cutting on the bias ended up making the dress drape so nicely - so I will definitely go that way again on the next one. I have ordered 5 more metres of plain fabric from De (the end of the roll :-( ) and will have a go at sleeves for the next one!
Thanks for reading.
This past week I was due to be in France at the Biennale Internationale d'Art Textile, but of course, that was cancelled ages ago. It is now due to happen at the end of October and I am really hoping we will all be able to safely travel again so I can attend. I was going to exhibit a selection of my quilts and those of the group I belong to called 'Six Dames'. We have a website (click here to visit) where we show the work but the exhibition was something I was really looking forward to. Meeting old friends and seeing all our work hang together was going to be really special. I made a catalogue to accompany the exhibition, which may now not get printed, so here it is should you feel like browsing through it. Click the button below to view it.
It feels a little weird saying this, but during this enforced 'pause' of the day-to-day activities I took for granted I have actually been grateful for the opportunity to just stop. Without thinking about it I it filled every hour I had (and more) with appointments, deadlines, activities, jobs, hobbies, schedules, challenges, housework and more. To make sure I didn't forget to do all those things I used calendars, schedules, to-do lists and scribbled reminders on notepads. My phone pinged several times a day to keep me on track, dashing from one thing to the next. Does that scenario sound familiar? I was running to keep up with the speed of my little hamster wheel, and I was running so fast it couldn't stop; but it was all of my own making. I put most of those things on my to-do list and set the timeframe, nobody else.
Waking up each morning now, the first thing I do is listen to the birds. I can't remember the last time I woke up without at least 5 or more things I wanted to cross of my daily 'to do' list. After a bit of daydreaming I stop and think.......... what day is it today? (Not that it really matters, except if the nice guy from Sainsbury's is coming then I need to get the Dettox out to wipe down the incoming groceries, which feels very weird.) It sort of reminds me of when I was a kid and didn't really even think about about what was coming next - I just took things in my stride.
I have lots of friends and colleagues that are busy with their families, juggling working from home, home schooling, spending hours online to hopefully get a delivery slot or even spend hours in line at the supermarket and I appreciate that I am so lucky not to have those pressures - so I am taking advantage of the fact that most of my work and forward planning have completely stopped. Teaching and exhibitions are off for now, and probably for the rest of the year, but instead of being sad about it I feel strangely relaxed. I'm not setting myself deadlines, or stressing myself thinking I should be 'making the most' of this 'free time'. I'm just enjoying doing whatever I feel like, and I can't remember the last time I felt like that! I've made scrubs, laundry bags, clothes, cut a few lino blocks and done some stitching, but it hasn't felt like I've had to do it, and like the feeling. I've also had lots of new ideas for things to do which makes me wonder if maybe I freed up some space in my mind to let that happen.
Whilst I look forward to things reopening and doing some of the things I miss I am presently loving taking things in my stride once again, and strongly resisting the suggestions to set myself a challenge to get xyz done.
Am I weird or do others feel the same?
Thanks for reading.