First Finish for 2014

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So, I thought that this one was going to squeak by just under the wire – finished in the last few hours of 2013…..Nope, didn’t quite make it… Really, it was almost done, but I could not, in all good conscience say that it was completed in 2013.  I actually finished it at a staff retreat on January 6th (just a little late posting the news, ya think?)…sewing the final edge of the hanging sleeve by hand while I listened to some pretty interesting presentations…(I was on the planning committee for that retreat – full disclosure there – but they really were interesting…)

Wanna see?

Mirror, Mirror - 2014

Mirror, Mirror – 2014

This was third in a series – Pleiades being the first and Storytime the second.  All made from 6″ crumb blocks.  These sorts of blocks are pieced improvisationally from all of the very smallest scraps of fabric.  I keep a little bin above my sewing machine for these pieces – anything less than 2.5″ on any given side goes in there, 2.5″ squares being the smallest pieces I measure and cut.  If I need something smaller than that, this bin is where I’ll look first.

Mirror, Mirror (Detail - Upper Left)

Mirror, Mirror (Detail – Upper Left)

It’s kind of fitting, now that I think on it, I started sewing these blocks just after last New Year.  As I recall, I was tired of quilting and the holiday slam and just wanted something mindless to do.  These were remarkably relaxing to make – quick, easy, no thought really…just playing with little bits and pieces…like working a jigsaw puzzle (I used to love to do those with my grandmother…).  No rhyme or reason to how they were put together.  Some were totally haphazard, some began with an idea.  I wanted to see what was possible – to experiment – simply to play with color and shape…and see what came out of it.  Before I knew it, I had…well, lots….let’s see… 7+25+36=68…

By the time I had so many, I was tired of fooling with them and there weren’t enough scraps left in that bin to work with.  Then, I sat down and played with the squares…sorting them in different ways – by color group, by theme, by patterns – separating some out and then mixing them back in again.  I sewed a solid concrete-colored grey fabric in an uneven border around each block, cutting them so that the little pieced blocks were not exactly centered and played with them some more.  I ran out of that concrete grey and finished off the last few with a darker grey leaf print.  Eventually, I had two groups with a few left over…one group of 25 that had sort of a child’s theme, with more than a few I-Spy blocks – Piglet and kittens and the like; a second group of 36 that were…well, a bit on the personal side  – memories, if you will, of one sort or another.  The seven that were left over fascinated me – I devised the setting for them and sewed the top together almost on the spot.  It was the first of the three…called Pleiades because of the number and arrangement…and because I happened to be listening to the audiobook of Earth by David Brin just then.  (Such is quite ……. hmmmmm……..inspirational…..reading, indeed!)  I also finished it quickly because I ended up teaching a class for improvisational piecing at TAUNY right around then and wanted it for a sample.  (Hmmm…that would have to have been about March and April..).  The top sat for awhile after I pieced it while I thought about how I wanted to quilt it.  I ended up sort of echo quilting around the squares: using irregularly-spaced mostly-parallel lines, with some overlap from square to square, in addition to the grid formed by the block seams.  This one, I also stopped and started quilting a few times – while I considered what I had done and what else I could do, and puttered about with other stuff in the meantime…That is relatively unusual (and how I managed to remember to take some WIP pictures)…. I almost always quilt straight through from start to finish…Because I’ve got the right thread in the machine; because by the time they get to this stage, I want them done and out of the way of the next projects…(I can see that I’ll have to do a whole post on this subject at some point – i.e. the philosophy of quilting…. I do have some very definite opinions one way and another, so I might as well just get them all out at once – put ’em all in one place where I can hark back to them occasionally…)  Erm….Moving on……

Pleiades WIP (Almost finished quilting)

Pleiades WIP
(Almost finished quilting)

The collection of 25 was completed fairly quickly, too – some months later. I called that one Story Time because almost every square had some little feature fabric worthy of a story. (I’ll add a picture of that in here as soon as I take one…)

The last batch – the ones that I most closely identified with – became Mirror, Mirror.  I didn’t have quite enough of the medium grey to sash ALL the blocks, but I made sure that the blocks that used a different fabric would be in this quilt.  I quite liked the effect of the very few darker-sashed blocks — especially after I added the border…  The whole thing reminded me of something that was still sort of “under construction” – as if blocks were forming and clustering in an ever-ongoing process….

The name, btw, also occurred because I happened to be listening to Earth just then….In the book, a young girl sends a message of warning to her father:  “Mirror, mirror, Daddy – don’t take any funny-looking apples.”  This is a contextual code, of course, and a reference to Snow White – doesn’t make any sense if you haven’t read the book, but – it’s a very valid warning all the same.  The quote might not have struck the way it did, except that one of the blocks in particular reminded me of one of those old pier glass mirrors…although there is no apparent reflection in it.  You can see that square in the picture below – the one with the lavender diamond shape…. And, it also occurred that something about each block was a very personal reflection of me – something in an image, the colours, the fabrics…

This quilt is mine

Mirror, Mirror (Detail - Upper Right)

Mirror, Mirror (Detail – Upper Right)

Oh, and this quilt will be on exhibit in Clifton Park the first weekend of April at the Empire QuiltFest….along with 2 others (I know, I’ve said it before….one at a time….)

P.S. I didn’t show the back, did I?

Mirror, Mirror (Back)

Mirror, Mirror (Back)

Doesn’t look like much from so far away, but those are morning glories on the left and a giant folk art floral motif on the right…with touches of a bit more here and there….’Cause what’s the point of having a boring back, right?

This quilt was so big that we had to hang it off the deck in order to get a picture without it scraping the snowy frozen ground…it measures approximately 80″ x 80″.  Oh, and I quilted it with variegated thread (pastels) in sort of an irregular grid in the grey and spiraling outward from the center of each small pieced block.