Quilting is an art. There are many different art forms: painting, ceramics, drawings, sculptures, etc. I firmly believe that quilting is an art. If you don’t believe me go to Paducah, Kentucky and walk through the Quilt Museum. There have been many stunning creations since people began creating quilts. How they manipulate the fabric, the color schemes, the textures….alas I am rambling.
Fading to Grey, created by my friend Angie Henderson, could be considered abstract art in fabric medium. Just a little insight about my friend, she doesn’t use patterns. She looks at a lot of pictures, patterns, and quilts. Then creates her own version. Her work is amazing. Angie quilts most of her projects on her domestic sewing machine. But this one she sent to me because of the bias triangles. Her only instruction for the quilting, straight lines. No feathers, no swirls, no curvy lines, only straight lines.
With every project, there are obstacles to overcome. Straight lines are always a challenge, as my quilting machine is old enough to not have a ruler board. Meaning, as I move the machine, there is nothing below to help support my ruler. Pressing down firmly on the ruler to hold the machine in a steady and straight line. But not too firmly. Don’t want to pull fabric out of whack. Careful to turn off the machine before advancing the ruler to the next section. (I stitched through the nail bed of my pinky once because I didn’t take the time to turn off the machine. That’s a mistake you only make once!) Anyway, point being, straight lines are tedious and challenging.
But I could see what Angie meant. This quilt could only be quilted with straight lines. Forget the challenges, and just quilt it. The quilt demanded straight lines. So, boy oh boy, did I give it straight lines. The light grey areas were quilted in diagonal lines, slanting from right to left, spaced 1″ apart. All other areas were quilted in diagonal lines slanting from left to right, spaced 1/2″ apart.
Other unforeseen challenges occurred during the process. I knew this was the right idea. But as always, I second guessed myself. What if it wasn’t what Angie had in mind. Quilting for friends is incredibly intimidating. I want them to not just like it, but love it. With Angie, the added pressure of not just friendship, but I really admire her work, left me hesitant and unsure. I wanted to be able to look back at a small section and make sure I was on the right path. But this was different from quilting a block. There aren’t any blocks. I could roll it back to see a small section, but I had to wait until the entire quilt was finished to get the full effect. Just had to trust myself.
Another challenge, all of the starts and stops. My machine has an 18″ throat. This means I can quilt roughly 14″ of the quilt top at a time. Which suits my needs just fine, most of the time. (It is limiting for doing large blocks or large pantographs. I don’t do a lot of pantographs. The ones I do are 9″ to 11″ repeats.) Some of the diagonal lines I was quilting stretched across the entire quilt. All of the fabrics were cut on the bias, so the risk of stretching and distorting were pretty high. I decided that I had to stitch a line as far as I could, stop, go to the next line, and repeat. Thus, thousands of starts and stops on this quilt. I should have buried them all, but time was a factor. Ah, to do it again.
Another signature of my friend, Angie. She designs a unique back with the scraps from the front. Yep, two designs on each quilt. One front and one on the back. It is a cool detail. By using some of the same fabrics the color scheme reflects a relationship to the design on the front. Sisters, perhaps. They are similar to be recognized as family, yet each with their own features and personality.
Fading to Grey was a test for me to trust. I have been hearing to quilt tops “speak” to me for awhile now. But I don’t always listen. I know that sounds crazy. This one definitely wanted straight lines. Angie wanted it to have straight lines. I wanted to create the right straight lines. I had to trust my idea would take this fantastic quilt top and elevate it to the modern art quilt it wanted to be. There are few things I would change, but overall not bad. And not bad is always better than not good.