Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Flying By the Seat of One's Pants

Recently I took a webinar with Cheryl Arkison  It was sooo fun and informational - she's terrific!  I sort of fell in love with her for several reasons - one of which is because she drinks beer while she sews - but also, she's so talented and creative, and - she basically took away my guilt for wanting to work on more than one piece at a time.  She said she has about thirty works in progress right now, and that sometimes a piece is speaking to you at this moment, and sometimes you have to put it away for a while and start something else and get back to it later. And Oh man, I so agreed!  It was so freeing, so now I'm going to work on whatever I feel like in the moment, not slog away until I finish something (unless I have a deadline, of course, or I want to.)  

Anyway, I've had this idea loosely based on Andy Goldsworthy sculptures floating around in my head for a while but being me, I hadn't started it because i was working on other stuff.   Today, however,  decided to take Cheryl's advice and start it even though I'm not finished with my current project.  "This is thing that is speaking to me today and besides, it's so simple," I thought," I can finish the entire top in one day probably, and then I'll go back to my current project..."

 Let's just say I was a little wrong.  Just for fun, I'm going to share my day and the process of improvising this quilt, as it turned out rather differently than I anticipated.  

Here is the original sketch, which was made a few weeks ago.  I liked, but didn't love it. 

Then I did these, which I liked better.

After thinking and staring and drawing some more, I decided to do a triptych - type piece using three different colors for the nests and for the twigs.  Since I knew the rough idea, I decided to pull the fabrics first. 

 I was shocked when I realized this step had taken about two (very enjoyable, fabric-fingering) hours.   No worries - the rest was going to go really fast.  Or so I thought...

Suddenly I realized I didn't have a background color.  I didn't think white would be right.  I toyed with dark brown, dark blue, dark green - but I didn't have big enough pieces of any of those colors at home.  So I went to town and stared at fabric for a while, something which is also very enjoyable.  I found a beautiful sky blue, but I didn't want it to be the entire background, so I added a kind of rough cotton in a beige-y off white that looked great with it.  

When I got home, I went back to sketching.   I decided to have a sloping "sky" with the earthy beige on the bottom. 

This is the final sketch (I think).   Looks pretty simple, huh?  Not so fast.  I now needed to decide how big to make the squares.  Eighteen inches seemed great, so I cut one beige and one blue, made a random cut through the center of each and sewed it together. It looked good!   I then wanted to see how big the nest in the center should be, so I quickly cut some circles. They were too big so I had to cut all of them down.  Did I want them in the center of each block, or randomly placed?  I decided the center, and all the same size, although I still have to decide if I want them perfectly centered in each other or a little off kilter (Later, later, I'm not there yet - see what I mean about many decisions!?).  

I picked up the greens and began to cut snippets from the the edges, just to see how it was going to look.  I still hadn't figured out the exact construction; at the time I was thinking I would do the slice and insert thing and then do appli-piecing for the nest.  But I wanted to see how it was going to look against the background first.  It was rough, but I was liking it.  I actually really liked the unevenness of the green pieces so I decided I want the snippets to be more like branches - not the same width from end to end (they look more nest-y that way).   I couldn't figure out how to do that with the slice and insert (without driving myself mad, that is) so I decided to do rough edge applique, although I am not a huge fan of applique (don't know why, just am not). 

Once I finally got the block set up I really wanted to put the square on my design wall so I could stare at it, but the individual snippets would not stick to the fabric!  So  I ended up putting it on the floor and staring at it from my lofty, almost six-foot height. 

I liked it, but at that point, I realized that eighteen inches was just too small; I would have to make the squares larger. (Don't know why the beige looks so pink in this picture, but it's not pink at all, just fyi.)

Back to the cutting board. 

The new squares are twenty-one and a half inches, roughly.  I almost didn't have enough fabric to do it after cutting so much for practice - that would have really been annoying (If I still got annoyed that is, which, what with my being so zen and all, I hardly ever do!) 

At this point it was five o'clock.   I would have liked to continue working, but dinner had to be made, the garden had to be watered, my blog had to be written...and I was ever so slightly cranky - from having to make so many decisions and not getting to any actual sewing!    The only other thing I got done today was to back the green fabrics with Steam A Seam (a rather boring task - I practiced not thinking, being mindful - it helped).   

Here's what I actually physically completed today, although I see that I am going to have to pull the stitches and fix it as well, so - not really complete, oh well.

So surprise, surprise - my simple design turns out to be a damn sight more complicated in the actual doing.  It turns out that there are lots and lots of decisions that have to be made when one is flying by the seat of one's pants!  I surely do hope it turns out to be the beautiful piece I'm envisioning because it certain is NOT simple and easy to make.

  I know, I know - I'm supposed to be focused on the DOING, not the outcome - but OY!  When I stop and re-read all that and I realize that most of my creating is done in the same manner,  I'm surprised I get anything completed, ever!  I must like it though because, like I said - I kind of do it all the time!

Still, it was a good day.  Although very little sewing got done, at least I know where I'm going with this.  I'm tempted to say the next part should go fairly quickly, but  I learned enough from today not to say or even think it! 

The biggest challenge, of course, was to remain present and calm, which I'm happy to say I basically did.  It's good to know that I accomplished SOMETHING, anyway.  

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