The Anarchist

      Comments Off on The Anarchist

Oops – been almost two weeks since I posted.  I must make myself post more often than that or I shall never keep current.  In fairness, I haven’t done as much sewing as I might have – due in part to uploading months’ worth of photos to my computer, to flickr and here, and everything that goes with that, as well as a bit of spring cleaning.

So, about that wallhanging I mentioned. Background first.  I got a a bag of scraps in the mail (from Etsy, I think) that had a few scraps of a lovely print of birds, trees and birdcages in greeny yellows, brown, purple and turquoise.  It fascinated me – the somewhat odd colors, the birdcages hanging in the trees, the birds themselves in cages and out.  I kept looking at it and finally started putting other scraps with it as I ran across them – mostly ones that seemed to fit the colors – blue greens, greens, purples and browns.  Every once in a while, I’d take that baggie out, empty it on the bed and paw through everything, adding or subtracting more bits and pieces of fabric, and wondering what to do with them. I wanted something simple, but not just squares. For one thing, those lovely scraps were fairly small pieces, mostly rectangular, and I hated to cut them to one particular size and lose any of the overall design. I also wanted to set that fabric apart from the rest somehow.

After several months of playing with them, I decided to use solid fabrics to frame variously-sized pieces into blocks of a regular size that I could then use in a yet-to-be decided way.  I found some solids that worked in my stash, blue greens, browns, and a purple/red or two.  I decided to go with rectangular blocks since most of the scraps were rectangles and there was no reason they had to be actual squares. I often use 4.5″ cut squares so I decided to make rectangles that finished 8″ x 12″, just in case.  As it happened, I didn’t have enough of some of the solid fabrics to frame as many blocks as I wanted (12 seemed a nice round number – all for one project or enough for 2 smaller ones if I couldn’t decide on just one…), so I ended up piecing some of the strips.

Since most of the solid scraps I was using were triangles, many of those seams were at an angle.  When I was done, I thought that those seams suggested tree branches and, well, that was just fine with me.  The blocks sat around for a bit while I gathered some more scraps from various places (I have scraps sorted and stashed in all sorts of bags and boxes, by type or project, etc.), including borrowing from other projects. Eventually, I bit the bullet and decided to go with setting the blocks randomly against a background of 4″ finished squares.  I worked out a layout and figured out how many I would need.  I pulled some squares from my stash of already cut scraps and then cut more – lots more.  Some scraps were only big enough for one or two squares, some for several. I kept coming back to one other scrap piece that I had squirreled away as a focus for another project.  The colors worked and it had birds and branches in it, too, but, well, it was supposed to be for something else and I didn’t want to use too much of it.

Finally, I cut two squares from it for this project, including one little bird.  I laid it out and sewed it together, all the while thinking about what to call it.  (I like to have names for projects.)  I had been referring to it as the birdcage quilt and all sorts of variations on that had occurred to me, but none seemed to fit.  I had decided that the quilt would probably be a wallhanging, mostly because I decided early on to have a right side up (I don’t always) and that meant (to me anyway) that it really should have a proper name.  I decided on a backing for it, a green tonal print flannel of birds and butterflies and foliage.

A serendipitous purchase of a fabric printed with green and brown leaves during a recent trip to Albany turned out to be the perfect border fabric and I also used it to piece the back.  I basted it and it waited its turn for quilting while I thought about how I wanted to quilt it.  Well, my birthday came along and I treated myself to some new music (I mostly listen to music while I sew), including Rush’s new album “Clockwork Angels.”  (Awesome album, btw.) One particular song caught my attention. Not because of the subject matter, per se, but the title.  After double-checking the definition, I decided it was a close-to-perfect reflection of my whole thought process on making this quilt, including all the little random decisions along the way.

I decided to go with my usual triple lines of quilting for all of the squares, but still wasn’t sure how I wanted to quilt the blocks themselves. I had outlined the printed fabric centers of that birdcage print, but some quilting needed to be done in the solid frames, both for aesthetic reasons and because I don’t like to have too many largish areas with no quilting.  But, I didn’t want the frames to recede into the background the way they would if I added too much quilting.  I was going to fall back on extending the triple lines from the squares along each outer seam on the frames, but, in the end,  decided to add a line along the outer seam  of only the two widest strips of each frame. (Did I mention that the centers were offset in each block? No, oops.)  That worked beautifully and I finished the quilting and bound it in a purple, green and white striped fabric with touches of orange, just for kicks.  (I do love striped bindings!)  So, Ladies and Gentlemen, here is THE ANARCHIST:

The Anarchist - 2013 - 63" x 71.5"

The Anarchist – 2013 – 63″ x 71.5″

(Sorry this photo doesn’t show quite the whole thing – windy day and complaining teenager are my excuses.)

The Anarchist - 2013 - 63" x 71.5" (quilting detail)

The Anarchist – 2013 – 63″ x 71.5″ (quilting detail)

And, who actually is THE ANARCHIST?

The Anarchist - 2013 - 63" x 71.5" (himself)

The Anarchist – 2013 – 63″ x 71.5″ (himself)

Why, it’s this little dude! Quietly rebelling, not in a cage, not in a frame, blending into the very diverse background for safety but not hiding, out in the world with perils lurking and happy to be so (there are some squares with purple cats on them that I could not resist adding into the mix), exhibiting his individualism and, dare I say, left-wing tendencies? (There was absolutely no reason to avoid that pun!)  On the whole, I can see much of Wikipedia’s definition of anarchism in this little bird, and in myself on occasion.

In any case, I am very pleased  with this wallhanging.  However, I have lots more stuff to work on, including that other wallhanging I mentioned last time and a previously-forgotten cache of scraps I discovered under my bed. So, tata for now.