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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Talking Fabric

Broom handle carved out of an aspen root by my father. circa 1970.

I am at that most unfortunate stage in quilting when I have so many projects, not just ideas but full blown projects waiting for me to start that I don't know where to begin.

Actually, I do know where to begin. I have to make a quilt for my son. He picked out the fabric a couple years ago. I've been playing with ideas for how to assemble the assorted plaid flannels he chose. It will be nice and warm and he will definitely be needing it as the weather gets cooler. I really can't make anything else until I get this one done.

I just can't see to wrap my mind around to best make this quilt come together. I joke about fabric speaking to me, telling me what it wants to be. I liken it to what my dad said when he was carving walking sticks out of tree roots. He said he just started carving and eventually the wood would let him know what to carve. It isn't really that the wood or fabric talk. It is a hidden artistic or aesthetic sense that holds you back until the project comes together in your head in a way that fits.... a need to wait until the ideas gel in the back of your head. I don't always start with a completed picture in my mind, but I do usually get a notion of the essence of the final project. A sense that bringing these particular fabrics together is right. And so I have fabrics awaiting the perfect pattern and patterns awaiting the perfect fabric.

I think a number of projects are sitting in the stack because I am missing some element. I used to store all of my projects as stacks of fabrics separate from each other. A while ago, I pulled most of them apart and re-stacked the fabric by color. When I go to the shelf to pull things out, I often manage to re-assemble the sets, but they usually have a new element. That new perspective has been productive.

I have some projects where the fabric has clearly spoken. Everything is sorted, washed, ironed and ready to go. I have the designs sketched and really do not have any reason to start cutting. And yet I don't. In this case, I am hesitant because my skill set does not include a comfort with the techniques I need to accomplish my vision. I am going to have to come up with a good strategy for moving forward on them.

And I have some fabrics that jumped into my hands and refused to be left at the store. They, too have a pattern awaiting. One that is clearly within my ability. One that I want to cut into and bring to life.

But first I have to have a conversation with my son's fabric. It wants to be circles. Something about the straight lines in the plaid makes me want to make circles. Some triangles would be good, but it really calls for circles. I've made a few blocks using the reverse applique/freezer paper method. I've considered some raw edge applique....

Update: The fabric started talking, but I'm not exactly sure what it is saying at the moment. Here are the various piece parts on the design floor.


  1. Wow...loving what you've done so far. Remember...the muse comes to the moving brush.

  2. Thanks I appreciate the support. This one is really making me crazy. It was supposed to be a simple checkerboard, but the fabric just won't cooperate with that.