Saturday, May 18, 2013

Lessons My Quilts Have Taught Me

It's a good feeling to finish a quilt! I often tell my students that every project and every quilt teaches us something. It can be a lesson about colour, design, piecing or an unexpected surprise.
A couple weeks ago I finished Wild Thing. 
 This quilt started out as plain white fabric, I used a combination of PFD cotton and Essex Cloth,  cotton and linen blend. I used thickened dye to paint circles onto the cloth, then batched and washed it. The next step was to apply soy wax to areas where  I wanted to preserve the colours and then painted a variety of colours of medium/pale strength dyes.
After washing and ironing, I cut the fabric into squares and then cut the squares in half and reassembled the rectangles on my design wall. The piecing and sandwiching was straightforward.
 I chose to quilt with a variety of weights of thread from a heavy 12 cotton down to light 60 rayon. I ordered another 12 spools above the 20 I had chosen from my collection because I wanted to follow the colour changes across the surface, matching the thread colour to the cloth. Therein lies the lesson!  
 When you create colours on cloth, then add more colours to blend and mix and create more, there are endless variations in values, tints and tones. When I look closely at a particular place on the quilt and start to think about the colours I see it can be challenging to narrow my choice of thread colour.
When I look at a blue, I need to decide if it leans towards a red-blue, a green-blue, does it have a tinge of orange or purple? How and where does it change on the surface? that can determine my thread choices and how often I have to change the spools.
I began by quilting the areas where it was simpler to choose the thread colours, dropping the feed dogs and using a top stitch needle. I followed the lines where the colours changed and worked across the entire quilt. Once the easier areas were quilted, I moved onto more challenging colour areas, sometimes a variegated thread would be useful but I often found the changes occurred where I didn't want them. It was often better to switch the thread to another, closer colour.  
 I am very pleased with the results, I learned so much about colour, how colours can be changed, looking closer at the base hues of what makes any particular colour. Maybe I also learned that one can never have too many threads.... I may have to go shopping!
What lessons have your quilts taught you?

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