Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Now this is gnarly

OK, fess up, folks, which of you would save this piece of fabric?

I suppose a few of you answered yes, but that's just the semifinals.  Which of you would actually use it in a piece of art?

I am thrilled to report that not only did I save that sucker, I am USING IT!!!!

I wrote last week about my sudden desire to make work that is gnarly, not neat, and yesterday I realized that somewhere in my stash was a box of distressed fabrics that would go so well with my red postage stamp quiltbits.  And what did I find in that box, but some seriously beat up materials, which I am using as the face layer of some more quiltbits.

I am deliberately being NOT NEAT, and let me tell you what a liberating feeling that is.  How many times have you started quilting and realized that for some reason your top layer is bigger than the rest of your quilt sandwich?

The old Kathy might have taken out the stitching and redone it, or at least spent a whole lot of advance preparation time to make sure it never happened in the first place.  But the new Kathy whips out her scissors, slashes into that bubble, pulls the edges together and just sews over the top.  Or maybe she leaves the bubble in and sews in a pleat where the stitches cross a previous stitching line.

And it's not just bubbles and pleats that I'm embracing.  It's dark threads that somehow sneak in between the batting and the white top layer and show through.  It's frayed edges.  It's wrinkles and creases where the fabric didn't get sufficiently ironed before sewing.  It's everything the quilt police abhor.

I even have a vision for how all these pieces are going to go together in the end.  I'll keep you posted, but remember, this is a Quilt National entry year so I'll only be able to entice you (incite you??) with detail shots.


  1. Kathy, I am so with you. I just completed a large piece for a solo show to have a greater variety of sizes of pieces. This piece was the largest piece I have ever done...36 x 110 inches. When I began to quilt it, I started to get puckers on the top. At first, I started to coax them into submission, and then it was such a behemoth to wrestle through my machine to quilt, I decided it was what the piece wanted. It is full of visual texture anyway so this is just one more added element. I let the ripples just land where they naturally wanted to go. It's art. I sure dont' stand in front of paintings and say, that brush stroke wasn't executed correctly. Frankly, I wouldn't know if it was or wasn't. I just admire the creative and design of the work. Embrace the imperfections while not losing sight of craftsmanship.

  2. I've been breaking rules left and right with my circle 365 quilt too. It is a lot of fun to not only leave loose threads and wrinkles in the quilt, but to deliberately make them! Your close up shots are intriguing.

  3. That is a gorgeous bit of fabric! I would definitely keep it, and might use it by gluing onto paper, adding stitch through the fabric and paper layers. So far I've made only little pieces, 8"x10", in that way, as it's easy enough to reach to the middle.

    Has the new Kathy considered moving away from cotton? Another disregarded source of interesting fabric, though often hard to get, is ... moth holes (in wool or silk). Keep them in the coldest part of the freezer for a good week before using, though, in case they are still "active".

    1. as a matter of fact, the new Kathy is moving into leftovers and recycled clothing and other textiles. I came across a beautiful storebought wool skirt yesterday that I never wore because I cut it up to replace the waistband (I forget why -- it was decades ago) and never got the alteration done. it is probably going to become part of my next quilt. and I also found a blue silk suit that I wore a bazillion times in the 1980s that's probably going to be part of this same project.

  4. This must be a trend that we do not yet know about! I too am starting to use different fabrics than the standard dyed cottons. And I am loving it! I also am embracing the oddities of fabric- that it won't always behave the way we want it too. And that not taming it is not a character flaw!

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