Friday, October 16, 2009

A Ringing Endorsement

Last Friday I decided to make up a new project using the Bell Choir Embroidery Designs. It’s obvious now that what appeared to be a compulsion was an avoidance technique as my to-do list rivals the national census. But that didn’t matter, I wanted, no, needed, to make up a wall hanging using these delicate bells. The seed was planted when I received my copy of the latest "Through The Needle” magazine (Winter 2009) which features my article on the mantel scarf shown here.

The seed germinated when I saw the pictures of those golden bells stitched across those pristine white rectangles. I wanted - no, needed - to use these designs again.

I won’t go through the excruciating details of choosing my fabric.I’ll just mention a trip to a local quilt store and the ravaging of the closets in my ‘internal resource center.’ At one point our house was covered with multiple stacks of fabric, all auditioning a particular color/print combination. No room was left untouched - not the living room, the kitchen or even the downstairs bathroom. After tripping over fabric for two days it became clear to me that the bells wanted to be sewn on my collection of cream and gold silk dupioni silks.

I decided that, like the mantel scarf in the article, this would be another Quilt as You Go project. The Quilt as You Go method is a method of quilting in which you finish individual quilt squares, including batting and backing, then assemble the squares into a quilt that bypasses the free motion quilting step. (I have free Quilt As You Go instructions on my website on the Bell Choir page. They will be there for no charge for a while.) You can use the Quilt as You Go method with the Bell Choir embroidery designs because there is a version of each bell that includes a rectangle of stippling surrounding the bell. It’s easy to make the quilted rectangles. Here's how:

  • Hoop your top fabric and batting and stitch out all of the colors of the design the last color (the stipple stitch). Remove the hoop from the machine but DO NOT REMOVE THE FABRIC FROM THE HOOP!
    Turn the hoop over and cover the back of the hoop with a rectangle of fabric.I use masking tape to temporarily attach the edges of the fabric to the edges of the hoop.
  • Turn the hoop over so the right side is up again and place the hoop back into the machine and stitch the last color.
So I created quilted rectangles, lots of quilted rectangles. I chose a deep gold thread and cream dupioni and stitched 12 of the designs.

I love the contrast of the luscious dupioni and the embroidery. I think its stunning. Nevertheless, after stitching 9 of the suckers boredom set in. Luckily, boredom can breed creativity. The appliqué version of the design, I started changing fabric combinations.

First was the original cream dupioni on a gold silk background. Next, I used the cream again, but this time with a checked gold dupioni as the main fabric. I liked that pretty well so I pulled out another background – a striped textured silk, again with the cream as an appliqué. Then I used a white dupioni with the striped fabric from the last square as the appliqué. I have more; a pale yellow dupioni for the background, a white with a brocade appliqué.

I've begun putting the wall hanging together so I have more fun and games and pictures. Stay tuned!