April’s assignment was a “Magical mystery tour”! Elizabeth grew up in England where the mystery coach tour was a real thing. People would pay for a ticket and get on a bus, not knowing where they were headed!! It was the unexpectedness that was appealing. And indeed, my results for this month were very much unexpected and took me places I’ve never been!
We were to set off on our own mystery tour-what shapes would we see? Try it yourself: Choose a shape and place it within the edges of your piece. Add a second shape, one related to the first in some way. See how they relate? “Think of the two having a conversation, or a confrontation, or even an amorous embrace!”
Add a third shape. Now add 4-8 lines (curvy, straight, bent, whatever) and connect the shapes and edges with the lines. Then create several value sketches. Sounds like fun!
This was not a straight path for me-there were many twists and turns this month.
I started with a curve, a drop and lines, cutting them out of construction paper.
I played for hours with shapes-it was fun, but I never got anything satisfying. The shapes just weren’t working together.
I decided to simplify the process and just repeat a shape. It was interesting, but not really a whole story.
This was better and I could envision having fun with color and fabric. But still, kinda looks like a quilt I’ve seen many times.
I went back to curves for some reason. Believe it or not, I had already invested probably 20 hours in this! I thought this arrangement was pleasing, so I did some value sketches and submitted, since the deadline was looming. I thought it was okay, but it was more like a design for yardage and definitely not mysterious or compelling. Elizabeth agreed.
Back to the beginning. One student submitted a sketch that inspired me. She took organic shapes and extended their lines to run into and over each other to create a design. So I headed into my yard for inspiration and found a hosta bathed in dappled light. YES, this was it!
I stylized the leaves, extending the lines to overlap, as leaves do. I cropped it to work the center of the hosta. Then it occurred to me, how the heck am I going to piece this thing?
That sent me to my bookshelf where I pored over Ruth McDowell (way too complex to learn quickly), articles on the starch method of applique and machine applique, and finally Cynthia England‘s book on “picture piecing”. I did a quick study of Cynthia’s book and headed off into the unknown.
I created this master copy to work from with various notations to help me plan my piecing order, my overlaps and my values.
From the master copy I created each individual piece using 2 layers of freezer paper. I pressed the fabric to the freezer paper and cut the fabric 1/4″ larger all around. I then applied starch to the edges and ironed them over the paper, forming a turned edge to machine applique.
I ended up with a combination of the starch method to prep each piece, Cynthia England’s method of picture piecing (kinda), and machine applique to piece this. I had spent little to no time on these methods before this. “Necessity is the mother of invention”??
Several of my joinings were fairly tortured, but I was surprised that they did not show much. I pieced in strips as you can see from the pattern. This photo just shows the pieces on each strip joined, but the strips still unjoined.
Final piece. I reoriented it to put the 2 darks on the bottom right. I was puzzled on how to quilt this. I decided to do my “random shape echo” quilting within each leaf shape. I think that was a good choice and is in character with the “seersucker” texture of the hosta. I am SHOCKED at how abstract this looks!
I do like that quilting for this piece.
The back is kind of fun too. I didn’t stitch in the ditch on each leaf-only because I wasn’t confident of the integrity of the joining, giggle. I like how that caused the back to show the overall grid of the leaves overlapping.
I used Misty Fuse to baste my little (15″ x 16″) quilt together-wow, LOVE that method! My quilt sandwich was completely stable, no pooching of fabric, even if I had one unquilted area surrounded by quilted areas. This method totally rocks. I will post a little tutorial soon.
I will be traveling until mid-May so my postings may be sparse for awhile!
PS-I just got my critique back from Elizabeth and she liked it! What a struggle this month has been. I feel like Sally Fields in 1984 when she finally got Best Actress after acting for 25 years. Remember this (“You like me!!”):
She liked it-whoop! Confirmation by someone who really knows design was a plus.