New Work in Progress

This will be a wide piece, at least 2m wide and probably about 1m – 1.25m high. A couple of years back I did a piece I called Lightstream, thinking as I was at the time how as white light passes through a prism it is divided into the rainbow bands of colour. This is a follow up I have been meaning to do for a while, and so it may bear the same name, Lightstream #2. But it is also very much in the style of the Ebb & Flow series. Who knows, I may not name it, as I intend for it to replace a will quilt that has been hanging in my own home for several years. (that one will be retired to a labelled cloth bag.)
As each vertical strip of fabric I am inserting strips into is about 25cm wide, I have at least 4 more to go, maybe 5. I want it to look light and lively, full of motion.

As with all my pieced quilts, this is truly a scrap quilt, more accurately a scrap bag quilt, since I have emptied the bag containing small almost useless size scraps, offcuts, of fabric onto the floor beside my machine, and am diving into that peridocially, putting buts and pieces together to form strips of chunks of colour usually no more than a couple of inches wide, max. As I use them the curvy bits tend to make one edge trail off into a sliver – so that bit comes off and I add something more to make it a useful length again. sometimes I divide up a unit and intersperse another colour, or some cream, which if used occasionally gives the impression of some wandering line suddenly coming to an end part way across the vertical panel.

As with any scrap quilt, it might all look random, haphazard and unplanned ( some would use’intuitive’ here) but once all the strips are pieced, they have to be placed in relation to each other, adjusting either up and down or in different relation to the right or left edge. Probably one or two will need to be pulled out and replaced with something else – a need that doesn’t become clear until later. For example, the rather long sinuous bright blue close to the centre of the photo is a bother now that I step back and look through the lens. I will either break it up with some other colours or replace it totally. Alternatively I might consider long bright blue pieces elsewhere, 2 or 4 more of them (the ikebana principle) I also might even add in more cream here and there, depending on how the final 8 or 9 look done. Light and dark clear and bright, large and small spaces, and ‘incomplete lines’ all need to be balanced in the final assembly. That means another 20 hours or so in the piecing stage I estimate, or in other words, it’s about half pieced.

While all this is going on I am considering glitter, if, which colour and where, and the quilting pattern. At the moment I favour machine quilting with a shiny cream rayon thread wandering randomly from left to right; and that too may change.

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6 Responses to “New Work in Progress”

  1. The Idaho Beauty says:

    Goodness – you must have more patience than me right now. I’m trying to work with small scraps from a bin where I toss anything less than 1-1/2″ wide. It is not going well. I think the key is what you’ve said about this not being random, although a viewer might think that. I am trying not to overthink what I’m putting together, and it merely looks ugly to me. More work to be done…

  2. Anne Wigfull says:

    Alison – This technique has always appealed to me ever since I bought the book QuiltSkills years ago. Occasionally I’ve used it, but only with cotton strips, dealing with the seam allowances by steaming them into submission. Do you deal with the seam allowances in a similar way if using non-cottons?

  3. Alison Schwabe says:

    Polyester or cotton blends with a high poly content don’t have enough flex in the weave which is often tight. Test first if I have some buyt generally would buy only sometjhing with 20% or less poly. It really effects how easily you can ease the edges of the cut together, stretching the one a little to meet the edges of the other. And regarding the ‘steaming into submission comment’ I recommend careful marking and pinning in the intricate areas. Maintain the seam allowance, even but about 3/8in max, I sew with my needle way over to the right, it’s less. You might find more help in the QNM nov. 94 issue, or a download on my website, or email me directly if that doesn’t help. If you haven’t used it much perhaps all you need is practice in handing this technique.

  4. Kristin L says:

    This is lovely. I like how the left side is more dense and the right less so, as if the color is dispersing the farther away it gets from the prism. I hope that it keeps some of that as you continue to add strips. Something shiny sounds fun!

  5. margaret says:

    This technique is definitely on my “do very soon” list – I love working with scraps and am looking forward to making something large after doing lots of 12″ square journal quilts. Using up the very tiny bits doesn’t do much to reduce the bulk of scrap bag, though, does it?

  6. Alison says:

    March 6th I blogged the completion and installation of this quilt – in my own home. It ended up 2.5m wide and about 1.25m high. I have just read what I wrote back when I posted this first on this quilt, and can tell you that I did consider, and indeed auditioned, several glitter threads. But I found gold was to brassy looking, silver not right, I didn’t have enough of the (australian bought) pewter that would have been good but such things are not readily obtained here…. and so I went with the matching cream thread and think it was a good choice, anyway.

    And in response to Margaret – well I AM finding working this way does seem to be having an impact on the size of my heap of scraps, as with the all the cutting and joining, the seams take out a lot of fabric that is no longer visible on the front – there aren’t any large pieces in the bin, just slivers mostly, too fine to use again. I’m NOT however claiming that I’m running short of fabric, by any means!

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