Thursday, February 18, 2016

Breaking some more rules

Longtime readers of this blog may recall how for some time I have been chafing against the "requirements" of the traditional quilt format.  Not sure exactly what psychological itch I am scratching, but I'm wanting to break more rules and explore new territory, while still sticking to my existing to-do list.  Recently, for example, I've been experimenting with very heavy machine stitching, even to the point of totally covering the underlying fabric base.

Last week, while I was lying in bed at 2 a.m. not sleeping, I thought about a way I could adapt this new technique to one of my longtime series, the "postage quilt" format.  I've made six very large and maybe a dozen relatively small quilts in this format, in which I construct a whole lot of tiny rectangles, each of them sewed individually as a little two- or three-layer quilt, and then stitch them together in a grid and suspend the whole thing in air.

Here's a detail shot of my original postage technique.  You'll notice each little quiltbit (these are 1 inch by 1 1/2 inch) is evenly and identically quilted, and the grid holds them together in a neat array.

But I realized, thinking in the dark, that I didn't have to be so damn neat about it!  I could hold the quiltbits together with much more irregular stitches, and in fact, I could use the new technique I had just been doing with my stitched pyramids, dropping a whole pile of threads on top of the fabric and scribbling on top of them to hold them down.

So I went down to the studio as soon as it got light, and set up an edition of postage stamp quiltbits.  With the addition of thread piles, the bits took on interesting texture as well as color variation.  Here's what they look like, not  yet sewed together into a grid:

Quite by accident, this batch of quiltbits ended up less rigid than in my previous projects, because the red fabric was a lightweight polyester instead of my usual quilting cottons.  So the bits are curling up at the edges and refusing to lie flat.  Which makes me happy, because they're going to end up looking a lot more gnarly when I sew them together.  That's exactly the look I'm shooting for.

I'll keep you posted!


  1. These little bits look very cool, I like your new experimentation.

  2. Sure looks promising--very interesting!

  3. I do some of my best design work in the middle of the night. Go, Kathy, go!

  4. so now we know whom we all can send our thread-bits to! great idea for you, great destination for us, and the post office benefits from it as well. wow! ;-))

  5. Can't wait to see how this will turn out. Off to a great start.

  6. Very interesting technique! Please share your progress. :)

  7. Love your experimenting mind set, as well as the 3D focus. I'm playing around with some ideas based on the paper folding and cutting work of Francesca Prieto and Abigail Reynolds. Hard to get an idea from mind to fabric!

  8. How is it that the thoughts in the middle of the night often seem so vivid and realisable ... but by morning, all is beset by difficulty or has evaporated into nothing? Judging by this, you have the answer ...!

    1. well, about a week ago I had a fabulous idea in the middle of the night that didn't even survive past noon the next day, so you win some and you lose some.

      when you do win one it's worth celebrating!

  9. Love it and love the fact that you are breaking rules. I have been thinking about that quite a bit now that I am starting on new work... and it is quite fun!

  10. Love it and love the fact that you are breaking rules. I have been thinking about that quite a bit now that I am starting on new work... and it is quite fun!