Monday, August 3, 2015

To stash or not to stash...that is the question

You know how so many of us have a stash - a great hoard of beautiful fabrics?  Some I know keep some of it hidden in the cupboard in the spare bedroom, or even the boot (trunk) of the car!
Some have it proudly displayed by color, each piece folded precisely.  Many have elaborate, elegant shelving systems - ah how I yearn for those! Some like me have Piles...yes Piles!  Some definitely more orderly than others...but still piles... there's the shelf piles, and the floor piles, and the table piles...and the migrated through to the living room piles....

So imagine my surprise when a very well known Famous Quilter (FQ) told me  that she didn't keep a stash at all!!  As she conceived of each quilt she made the fabric precisely for that quilt...and those quilts were Gorgeous.  And, as you can imagine, the colors perfect, everything working together to create a wonderful piece of art.  But think of the restraint that one would need!  and what happens when she dyes something  that doesn't come out right?  Does she condemn it to recycling?  or give it away?  She did say she had a small bookcase that had a few pieces folded on it.....

But there is definitely something to be said for conceiving of an idea and then making the fabric to precisely fit that idea.  I have done it occasionally and always been pleased with the results.  In the quilt below, I made up about 50 screens with images painted on them - all at the same time - with this quilt especially in mind.


I think it helps to make a coherent whole even though this was a very large selection of different images on the screens.   I did cut out many sections..of course I'd hoped I could just sew them all together!! but no...I wanted a bit from here and a bit from there...so there was quite a pile of stuff left over...that wouldn't have pleased the FQ!!


In the quilt above, I made a lot of screens about water - using a limited palette but thinking of as many different line qualities as I could that would suggest water.



And in the one above here, I worked from a set of photographs of my brother-in-law's giant shed stuffed to the gills with old window frames, screens, bed springs, boxes, paint pots etc etc...
There was a lot of fabric left over from this one too...but I managed to put them together into another quilt!  The FQ would have been proud of me!


And I have made several quilts - like the one above - where I've just dyed one color, but in every different value and  temperature I could think of...and then used all that fabric for one quilt.

So - if you'd like to take a class where you first make the fabric...then make the quilt..I have just the one coming up!  It's with academyofquilting.com and it starts on Friday.  Tell the Dean I said you could have a place in the class!

Each week I describe a different surface design method - we work through the elements: value in Lesson 1, color in Lesson 2, texture in Lesson 3, Shapes in Lesson 4 and Line in Lesson 5.  You dye/paint/print the fabric...and then make a small quilt based on that week's fabric.

Low water immersion dyeing, arashi shibori, regular and deconstructed screen printing are all covered.

Thank  you - FQ - I still have my piles, but sometimes I do get organized and make the fabric for the quilt and it's a very satisfying start to finish process.

And now for a nice cuppa tea.....if you have been, thanks for reading!   Elizabeth
and please please do comment!  Love it!  Read them avidly! (with said cup of tea in hand of course!)


5 comments:

Betsysmom said...

Elizabeth, Thanks so much for sharing these quilts. Some I don't think I've ever seen in your gallery or other posts. They are all exciting. I'm still working on the last one from the last class I took with you. It is pleasing to me and I have learned lots of new things.
Mary Helen in OR

Margaret said...

And then there are those of us who might dye some of our own fabric to 'fit' a piece...but who also like to see if they can teach "old dogs" (i.e., commercially dyed/printed fabric) new tricks...

Charlotte Scott said...

I've never conceived an idea for a quit and then made fabric specifically for it. But I have been making a quilt and found I haven't got the right fabric and had to make some that would work.

Maybe I should try the FQ's process sometime, but would it be a bit frustrating, waiting for the fabric to batch and the paint to dry when I have an idea that I'm desperate to start on? I wonder how painters felt in the 'old days' when they had to grind pigments to make their paints before they could start?

Elizabeth Barton said...

Thank you all for the comments! And appreciate the compliment, Mary Helen! Glad you enjoyed the OR class....
for Margaret - I have found it really hard to include commercial fabric in a quilt, it really stands out unless you use quite a lot...though I must admit there are some great commercial prints out there nowadays!!
And to Charlotte...while your fabric is soaking or batching....do some sketching! try out several different ideas and value studies...you can have a whole beautiful wall full of ideas ready for that great fabric when it emerges from its cocoon!!

Janis Doucette said...

All fabulously executed!!!