Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Creative Process, VII

I actually did what I'm about to describe over a week ago, on July 30. I put the photos on my netbook and had good intentions of getting something posted while I was in Washington, DC for the Joint Statistical Meetings August 1-5, but between not being able to access blogspot from the hotel and being on the go every day between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. or so, well, it never got done. Better late (now) than never.

After several seconds of deep thought, I abandoned all notions of measuring my cabin rectangle and then making blocks all the same size so that they would fit evenly. This is liberated quiltmaking, right? I figured that 4.5-inch blocks (which become 4-inch blocks in the finished quilt thanks to what's taken up in the seams) would come close enough. I'd just make one of the end ones a bit wider or narrower as need be, and it would work.

How to make those blocks? If you're not a quilter, pay attention, because I'm only gonna explain this once. This is liberated quiltmaking, so the first thing I did was go through my drawer of batik and hand-dyed fabric and tore strips off each and every kind of fabric contained therein. I tore one strip off some, two off others, basically going by how long the strips were. This is the pile of strips I ended up with, along with the CD case of the morning's soundtrack. It might be enough for the whole quilt; it might not be. I can always tear off more.

The next step was to take two pieces of farbric and sew them together. This would give me the center of a liberated log cabin block. Here are the four I started with. I cut these in half to get two centers from each piece. I took a center, then pulled a random strip out of my pile. My only requirement here is that if I pull out a strip that's already in the block I'm working on, I put it back. Otherwise, that's the one I use. Forced randomosity. To make sewing things together easier, I cut the strip to be the same length as the piece to which I'll be sewing it. Sew the two pieces together and press the seam, and I get something looking like this. I don't have a photo of it, but the next step is to trim the side to which I'll sew the next piece of fabric. You can see that here, with the next fabric. Sew the new piece on, press, (photo above) and trim the proper side (photo below). Then I'm ready to repeat the process and add the next piece. Cool, eh? Just keep adding pieces to the sides until the block is a suitable size.

Of course, even when it gets to be an appropriate size (photo above), it might look better if you add more and re-center how you cut the final block.

Look at the photo above. Before, I didn't have any leeway over where I cut my final block. Now I do; I can move the 4.5-inch template around and cut the block however I want to. Now is probably a good time to mention that I don't make one block at a time. You saw above that I started with eight centers. I chain piece, which means that I add a piece to the side of the first center, then the second, then the third, and so on. I end up with short bits of thread between the connected blocks. I snip these to separate the blocks, then press, trim, and do it all again. I took the photos above to show how I put together one specific block. If I did each block by itself, it would take a long time to make the eight blocks around the bits with which I started. Eight blocks which, when sewn together and laid out, look like this. The carpet might make it hard to see, but the strip of eight blocks needs another in order to come close to matching the cabin unit. After I make that block and sew it onto the end of the strip but before I attach the strip to the cabin unit, it's clear that I'll have to do some trimming. I'm not going to do the trimming, though, until the strip is sewn on. You get a much nicer, neater trim once it's sewn and pressed. Here's what the finished piece looks like. To take this photo, I taped the unit to the back of my sewing room/office door. I don't have a huge area in which to work, which is one of the main reasons I don't do more of this.

The next step, which might not be taken until next weekend, is to do another strip to put below the cabin unit. Then, I'll make slightly larger blocks--six inches or so--to go around the unit with the cabin and top/bottom strips. My plan, which is subject to change at a moment's notice, is to put two sets of blocks around the unit, then a single border strip of fabric, probably black, and then an outer border of random stripes. If I end up doing as I just described, the finished quilt will be about 72 inches square, which I think will be a good size to leave out on a couch for decoration at the same time it's a good size to stretch out under while reading, relaxing, or whatever. I'll take some photos each work session, but since all the other liberated log cabin blocks will be done just as the one I showed here, I'll dispense with the gory detail.

I also took the first step on a new project today by cutting up some fabric I dyed. Sounds sort of normal, right? Not! The fabric was ten terrycloth hand towels, each dyed to a differect color. Terrycloth may turn out to be a real bear to work with, but I have my reasons for wanting to do so. I don't expect to start sewing on that one until I'm done with this one, but having done the dyeing, I figured I should at least get the cutting done.


Caroline M said...

I was clearly not paying attention earlier because I'd not realised that the house was that big.

Debi said...

Holy crap, Jean, but this quilt just keeps on getting more gorgeous with every update! I love those liberated blocks!!! And I loved seeing your process...reminds me a bit of crazy quilting, something I haven't done in ages, but that you've now made me want to go play at again!

Debi said...

Oooooh, I just realized that I'm going to get to see this in person. :D