Lisa C.

The Power of Limitation


My husband peeked in my studio shortly after I had posted the Studio Rules.  He is of the opinion that Studio Rule #1 is in the reverse order.  He feels it should read:  “Something goes out then something comes in”.  I have to admit he does have a point. 

I am guilty of being the owner of a large fabric stash that I have amassed over many years.  About five years ago I started to hand dye fabric myself - so much fun!  I am trying very hard not to be tempted into buying any more commercial fabric.  Timing of this exercise was excellent since I haven’t undertaken a major purge in since we moved to our house three years ago.  I did take some time this week to edit the stash some more.  I also donated some quilt kits that I have had for years – if I haven’t touched it by now, clearly my interest has waned!  The first photo shows my ‘Going Out” and ‘Staying In” piles to date.  I still have more purging to do and I am committed to complete this task before this course is done. 

Work With Limitations – Silver Sails

Maybe it is the start of spring (very late this year but I am not bitter) but a few weeks ago I cleaned out and organized my scrap box and found I had a number of narrow strips that be a good challenge for this assignment.  Here were my rules:

Create a small art piece (13 in x 20 in).  Figured I could make a quilted pillow for our new window bench in the kitchen if I liked it.

Use only fabric in my  scrap pile.  I have to  “make it work” with these scrap strips - no yardage cuts! 

Photos of the finished piece along with a close-up are attached.  Here are the journal notes I made while assembling the piece:

Started with a 14 x 20 in piece of plain white cotton.  Backed it with Pellon Presto Sheer to give it some stiffness as a foundation for piecing the narrow strips.

Started to piece strips from the bottom up with random narrow curves using the blue-green-grey-white color motif.  This is what was in my scrap box from a previous project.

Thinking ¼ in seam allowances will be too big for the width of my strips (mostly ½ in) so I used a smaller seam allowance (1/8 in).

Added a series of 1 in pencil lines on the cotton foundation piece so I could judge how the curves are moving vertically as I continue to piece.

Decided to seam many of the strips to make them long to piece in a continuous line across the longer edge (21 in).  Made the conscious decision to keep the same fabric in each strip so it created a single band of color.

Used some small strips of silver silk to add a shimmer effect to the water.  Like the way the light reflects off this strip mimicking the effect of sunlight on water.

About one-quarter of the way through piecing, I started to think that the colors remind me of a seascape landscape.   This was not my original plan but I decide to see where this might take me.  Start to adjust water colors to create a darker gradation of blue as we approach the horizon. Noted on my horizontal lines where I might transition to the sky area.

Had some problems with the small seams pulling apart (selvedge edge peeking through the seam allowance) as I progress with the piecing.  Found that I can solve this problem if I sew down the raw edge of the piece I have just added to the foundation before adding the next strip.  This adjustment worked very well.

Transitioned water strips to dark blue fabrics to create the horizon edge for the horizon.  Found that editing iPad photos using the black-white option to be very useful in judging value.

Had some scraps of a hand dyed commercial fabric that would work well for the sky area.  Didn’t have enough of the hand dyed strips so I used a couple of strips of the undyed fabric and later added watercolor paint to roughly match with the color of the hand dyed strips.

Thought about inserting white strips into the hand dyed strips in the sky to create clouds.  Rejected this idea, thinking it would look a little cartoony and might be better to keep it simple.

Thought about adding some sailboats along the horizon.  Covered some pale scraps of fabric with cheesecloth to add a little texture.  Cut out simple shapes to give the ‘idea’ of sailboats on the water.

Decided to add a sun using the silver silk to add a little interest in the sky.  Might add some fabric paint to the sun. 

Thinking about calling the piece “Silver Sailboats”.  The piece still needs to be quilted and binded.  Might add a little hand stitch or a few beads to add interest.

Might try this again in a smaller format.  Ideas to consider:

Use only hand dyes instead of commercial fabric.

Pay more attention to the value of adjacent strips on the water.  Need to make the transition of color and value more gradual as you approach the horizon.

Horizontal strips for the water area do not have to traverse the entire piece.  Might look a little more like water if the strips terminate in a point before reaching the vertical edge of the piece.

Try using silver silk for the sailboat shapes.