Sunday, November 2, 2008

Letters and Stitches

I was really happy to see Sharon's November assignment.  The only thing I have more of than fiber is books, so I am really glad to be asked to somehow work the printed word into a graphic design.

One thing I had fully intended to do, no matter what the challenge, was to use hand quilting in the project.  You see, yesterday I took a hand quilting class with Alta Miller, a lovely lady from our local Mennonite community.  Her handwork is absolutely stunning.  Her stitches in a completed project are probably about 1-2 mm long.  And her stitches are so even that some people who view her quilts ask her if she did the quilting by machine.

You might think a perfectionist like Alta would make for a stern teacher, but she is definitely on my short list of saintly people.  Her patience with all of us was nothing short of miraculous.  I never heard a discouraging word all morning from her, even though a couple of us (like me) certainly had work worthy of lots of criticism.  Her only themes:  "Keep going.  You will get better.  It's hard at first, but you'll see by the end of the morning that your stitches will get smaller and more even." 

The assigned project in the class was a pineapple - you know, in preparation for one of those beautiful pineapple quilts?  Yeah, right!  Here's my 12 inch (31 mm) hoop with the quilt sandwich loaded.  It's hard to see the pineapple, but I assure you that it's there and about 3/4 of the way done.

And here's a close-up, sort of.  The leaves were worked first and the stitches in that section are about 5 mm long.  The scales were worked later in the day and the stitches on that part of the pineapple are about 3 mm long.

Only one woman in the class of 7 finished her project and Alta allowed as how it was the best one any student of hers ever produced on a first try.  Let me tell you that hand quilting is hugely difficult.  I may never get the teeny stitches Alta achieves, but I agree with her that, with practice, I can at least get passable results.  It's all about controlling the fabric and the needle.  So I am off to Wal-Mart later today to find the thimble Alta recommends as well as some hand quilting thread.

So how does all this fit into November's TIF?  Well, I am going to rip out the pineapple and work a graphic design in hand quilting.

A year or so ago, I bought a book called "ABZ:  More alphabets and other signs" at Barnes & Noble.  The 221 pages are full of graphic designs, about half of which could serve as an inspiration for this challenge.

I have not yet settled on a design, but I'm thinking it will have the following characteristics:  there will be letters, not words; the quilting will be done in as many straight lines as possible (after working the curved pineapple scales, I know my limitations at this point in the learning process); and I'll use colored thread in order to see the design better.  Here's an inspiration page so that you get a feel for where I'm going with this.  And now, I'm off to do some housework before I rip the daylights out of that pineapple.

1 comment:

Miss 376 said...

I always marvel at the huge quilts that were hand stitched. I'm not sure my fingers would survive. I'm looking forward to seeing where you will go with this challenge