Monday, 12 November 2012

Growing


The paper pieced kaleidoscope project has grown substantially over the last week - the moment everything has been done for the day, this is the thing I turn to. As eight o'clock approaches I suspect I become almost as fixated on the moment at which I can thread my needle as others may be about reaching the hour at which they can respectably uncork a bottle of wine (someone once memorably told me that 17.59 was normally an accurate timing of when this happened in her house and ever since I've had an image of her clock-watching as she went about cooking dinner for her children. It's worth clarifying that she was not an alcoholic, just possibly enjoyed that this glass of wine was a tangible thing which signified it was time to relax, just as I find with hand-sewing!).


Half way through the week the half-formed piece was substantially larger than our small tabby cat and finally, by the weekend, it had grown to the size of a Labrador puppy if it were curled and strangely hexagonal.


I still have several more rounds to go until it is completed, but finally the kaleidoscopic effect is beginning to emerge and it's this which makes me tingle with excitement. I have become rather obsessed with kaleidoscopes - both the way in which they can be created by rotating patterned fabrics (which this project doesn't allow for) and the way in which they can be formed by tessellating shapes together. I find the techniques involved in the former fascinating and I look at the prints on fabric in a different way now - thinking about their potential to be cut and turned to create new, unique patterns. I remember it wasn't so long ago that I liked very simple quilts which allowed the fabric to do the talking. I don't feel quite this way now - it's difficult to separate out whether this is because my tastes have changed visually or if I'm so drawn to thinking about the creative processes involved in more complex piecing that an appreciation of these has taken precedence over all else.


The weave of these fabrics is rather thrilling - because each colour is shot through with red, the colours look a totally different colour depending on what side you view them from. If you focus on the top left side of the heart at the top left of the photo above you can see that one side of the heart looks red while the other looks a bluey-purple. Photographs fail to capture it properly, but this is happening constantly as you shift the angle of the piece slightly; change your own position while viewing it; or if the sun suddenly shines over it. Often it will momentarily look as though I have used the wrong fabric colour for a particular piece, only to move and suddenly a different piece looks mismatched. It tends to look uniform only when viewed from straight on. It's a completely fascinating effect of the fabric.


However, the fabric is as frustrating as it is lovely and as many of the tinier pieces are over-handled due to the slow process of piecing by hand it frays maddeningly even when glued to the card beneath. It's worth saying, just in case you're considering using them yourself, I didn't experience any of these problems when using the Oakshotts for a machine pieced quilt where the fabrics were handled less and this isn't stopping me swooning over the new Lipari bundle. However, I think next time I would buy the fabrics individually, rather than as a stack - many of the oranges from the bundle of rubies I bought have gone unused, but I've now run out of the colours from which I'd wanted to form the larger outer rounds...I fear it may come to a halt while I decide how to continue and whether to spend more money replenishing the colours I need or to accept that it will have to be a smaller wall hanging than I'd first intended. I'm even considering mixing in a little of a dark red Liberty print I have as unfortunately Oakshott only sell the individual fabrics in metre lengths, which makes them prohibitively expensive for merely finishing of a project.

I love the blues and greys and blacks from the Lipari range and am considering these for my next project. Recently Cathy has been working on an eye-poppingly beautiful Museum Medallion quilt, which she's been piecing by hand, but without any papers involved. It's a completely different way of sewing to English paper piecing and apparently much quicker, so I'm eager to learn. Cathy kindly sent me some links over the weekend to get me started and I'm now eager to finish this piece so that I can begin experimenting.

If you have a favourite book or tutorial on the type of hand-sewing that I've talked of above, please do let me know - I'd love to hear.

Florence x

33 comments:

  1. This is so lovely...the design is stunning and the colours sublime. Gorgeous.

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  2. When I first saw your design, I thought you were crazy. Now its absolutely gorgeous, so worth it. Love how you are using fabric with a visible weave it makes the design more amazing.

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    1. I did get the impression that there may have been some doubting my sanity. Even with a print out in the correct colours it's still hard to convey the image you have in your head for a finished piece, isn't it. And unfortunately I find it doesn't always end up looking quite like that image...however, on this occasion I feel like I've got away with it! So pleased you like it so far.

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  3. Oh, I enthusiastically scrolled down hoping that the 3rd photo would include your new Labrador puppy! The cat might not have been sleeping so peacefully, though. Anyway, my gut feeling is that you shouldn't add a print, particularly at this stage (i.e. with no prints in the centre of the piece). Those fabrics are pricey though, aren't they! There are three shops I know of that sell handwoven shot cottons from South India: bishoptontrading.co.uk, patchwork.organiccotton.biz, and (biggest selection) fairtradefabric.co.uk. They're less expensive and you can buy smaller cuts - but whether you'll find colours to match yours I don't know. I'm guessing it's the common warp colour that's making the fabrics in your lovely hanging work so perfectly together. x

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    1. Nina, you are so funny - it's like having a direct line to Annalisa Barbieri! Do you remember that column she used to write where people would write to her and tell her what they were looking for and she would magically produce a list of options that might fulfil their needs. I'm completely fascinated by what job you might have - or perhaps whether you are Annalisa in disguise.

      Thank you so much for the wonderful links. x

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    2. Dammit, my cover is blown! Annalisa. x

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  4. Wow Florence! It's beautiful! I didn't realise it was so large either... love the kitty putting it into perspective :o)

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    1. It's always good to use a cat for scale isn't it! Thank you. x

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  5. It's stunning!
    I print my hand piecing templates onto freezer paper which, once cut out, are ironed onto the back of the fabric. I use a 1" x 6" ruler and a propelling pencil with a 0.5mm H lead in it to draw round the template (to mark the sewing line) and I usually also draw a cutting out line approx. 0.25" away from that (it doesn't have to be exact as I match the sewing lines together, not the fabric edges) and then cut out with scissors. There are some really good tutorials on this blog (in the side bar) http://handpiecingwithcrispy.blogspot.co.uk/ which cover most aspects of hand piecing with clear explanations and good photos. I find that using freezer paper templates is very accurate and allows me to exactly line up stripes on fabric or get the centre of a motif exactly centred in a shape, etc. It's worth remembering, though, that doing it this way will result in a block being the mirror image of the way it was drawn on the freezer paper!
    I can't wait for the next instalment of your kaleidoscope project as I'm really taken with your design and the way you've used the gorgeous fabrics...
    P.S. Sorry for the really long comment!

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    1. I love long commments - thank you and please don't apologise! Thank you so much for sharing your technique. The he question I am left with is at what point, and how, do you remove the freezer paper? Does it always peel away easily? Do you heat it to do that?

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    2. I peel the freezer paper away after I've drawn on the sewing lines (before I cut everything out) and it peels away with no problem, no heat needed and I just use a finger nail/side of my finger to catch the edge of the FP and then peel it back. I've reused templates many times (so far I'm up to about twenty with some of them) and have had no problems with them losing their sticking power. Oh, and I iron them onto the fabric with a hot, dry iron.
      I hope that helps - shout if I haven't answered in sufficient detail!

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  6. Simply amazing. Like watching magic being done before our eyes.

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  7. Hi Florence,

    I use this to help with fraying, you only ned a tiny amount : http://www.homesewing.co.uk/fray-check-to-prevent-fabric-fraying.htm

    Ruth x

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    1. Thank you, Ruth! Do you use it for crisis managment or do you use it pre-emptively and run a little along any fabrics prone to fray?

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  8. I love this, it is beautiful.

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  9. This is totally amazing! What a fantastic layout, the colours are lovely. Well done!

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    1. Thank you - I'm so grateful for the reader help I had with layout - it would have been far more cluttered if I'd been left to my own devices.

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  10. The patterns and colours are so beautiful. I find it peaceful to look at. Reminds me of a mandala as well. Sewing by hand I find develops a pace all of its own.
    Wendy

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    1. Thank you - yes, you're right - it reminds me of a mandala now too.

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  11. Beautiful project. have you thought about searching ebay for Oakshott scraps or appealing to the blogosphere to see if anyone out there has any spare bits in the colours you need - you could always offer the oranges in exchange!

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    1. That's a super idea - thank you for the thought, Tina.

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  12. That piece is so absolutely gorgeous…. I love it!

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  13. Or perhaps someone (or someones) would want to split your meters with you? Gorgeous, gorgeous start to this project.

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  14. I like quilts that are pared right back - in terms of production that is, so I like to cut with scissors and sew by hand. You can hand piece by using little running stitches secured with a back stitch every now and then or use back stitching. I could never come up with such a complex design as yours so it is just as well I like quilts with simple shapes to show of the fabric or applique quilts. I don't like things to be quick as I like to feel a part of what I am making. Sewing by hand is probably still quicker than knitting or even crocheting yet people accept that without a thought. However long it takes to stitch, the end result will be around for so much longer than that, so it is well worth it. You will be very proud of your beautiful quilt when it is done.

    It's funny that you only start stitching at 8 pm as I have realised I have to stitch by day as my eye sight is too poor to get by at night time. I get a lot of pleasure from seeing the colours in daylight and am generally more alert to what I am doing. In the past though, I did exactly as you do and stitched into the small hours as that was the only available time.

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    1. Yes, it does feel quicker than knitting or crochet (although that may in part be because I'm awful at those things). Occasionally I do start earlier than that if my children are doing something where it doesn't feel like I will appear not to be focusing on them (such as watching television together), but otherwise leaving it until after 8 means it's a guilt-free delight!

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  15. This is stunning. I can't wait to see it as it grows.

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    1. Thank you - I love your profile picture figures, by the way!

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  16. This is absolutely gorgeous! It's truly going to be special.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x