Saturday, November 28, 2009

Post-holiday retreat

Thanksgiving is the day I usually say is my favorite; the truth is, it may well be but the net pleasure I take in it has dramatically diminished as I invariably find myself too tired and overexposed to aromas that I don't enjoy the meal a bit... but I do love the day after... "let not these feet touch the floor..." that's how I roll.

So yesterday I was definitely planning on being a slug. After about 6 hours of that, I rallied for a few errands and a run to the quilting shop to see what I might make of the quilt reclamation project I scored at Grandma's house. Here's the skinny:

1. No one ever saw it before. It might be her work, it could well be a 30-year old estate sale purchase that she thought she'd finish and then...
2. pieced and quilted by hand, the thing still has basting threads and pins in it.
3. based on the fact that we'd never seen it before and the apparent age of the pins, I'm thinking this quilt was last worked in the late sixties or early seventies---some long ago time but not so long that I'm not finding the occasional piece of polyester double knit (zoinks!) in the blocks.
4. Its totally NOT my style but it has some redeeming features---some strong geometry that I can exploit in finishing as well as a definite plum-ish color to be played up.

Let's take a look:

From left to right, top to bottom:
1. I have no idea what this pattern is; these six-sided units are about the size of a US quarter. Looking from the back I can see these units were assembled in long chains and then joined sequentially in each dimension, offsetting each row to arrive at the final diamond shape with white-ish border.

Oh. My. god. My hands hurt just considering the cutting task not to mention the piercings of sharp quilting needles. Oy. Does anyone know what this quilt might be called (besides torture)?

2. I think I included this photo to show the back is quilted in place with cotton batting right where you'd expect it but there's no border in place...? I trimmed this piece before photographing it; you can't believe how unwieldy it was to handle with three unfinished cotton layers, all beginning to fray and ... bleh. I wouldn't be surprised if this backing error, combined with the edging challenges are what derailed the project.

3. Those are the new pieces of fabric with which I'm going to try to coax any hidden possibility out of this piece. I'm going for a strong orange/gold frame of about 1 inch and a wide border of the deepest plum which is a nice piece of variable saturation. Should knock the hell out of this kind of frenetic theme going on just now. I *do* actually think there's something very pretty here but getting it to be something I will appreciate in my daily life is something still undecided.

Don't you love the fabric (nod your head yes!!!)? Picking quilting fabric is all about (for me) going one or two steps beyond my idea of what is fitting or matching; this kind of thing is sort of similar to what I hear when I listen to jazz or blues for the record: a little dissonance to underscore the harmonics... so there are two pieces that are kind of iffy until I place them together and see if I'm right: the green/goldbrown large figured one and the smaller figured, very predictably patterned gold piece with some jewel tones.

4. Look at the relative straightness of these other two edges...full block pieces or something; this quilt construction continues to baffle me; I'm not yet certain it was all set in chains. Of course the straight edges are the shorter ones...

And this is the biggest task, most challenging. I spent a couple of hours today trying to decide if I should create big fabric pieces that would set in the moving edge and produce a straight edge upon which to sew the border, trying to engineer a template. Given that this is a full sized quilt, three free edge layers, there's just NFW that is happening. I'm thinking I'll create my own straight edge in the top by attaching the frame and border to the midline of those full diamonds and then cut the concealed halves off---they could possibly be used as applique or other embellishments for the back.

So that's where most of the fabric comes in---if I am NOT right about the balance of color and making a good transition from a very old school piece to a modern millennium quilt, I'm going to piece some blocks, somehow, to embellish the back. Stay tuned. I have...

not a single clue what I'm doing. Into the abyss!

1 comment:

KSM said...

That is a fun quilt, but you're right. It definitely looks like torture.