I want to learn the core angles of quilt sewing. Since most quilts are simply tiling patterns writ in fabric, a large percentage of this work is done in squares or rectangles on the one hand; or triangles, diamonds, and hexagons on the other. These shapes and their variants are pretty much the only ones that tile easily.
I started by making some six-pointed stars using a flat triangle pattern. When three flat triangles are grouped, one gets an equilateral triangle. when one groups six equilateral triangles, a hexagon results. Half-hexagons can be used to form an edge to a field of hexagons, turning a hexagonal tile patttern into a rectangular ore square field. Many hexagons and half-hexagons together form a quilt… Who knew??
Much of the early work consists of lining up sheets of fabric and then putting a template on them to slice out triangles. I felt like I cut out hundreds if not thousands of triangular fabric tiles yesterday. You can see the piles of them in the first photograph here, a lot of grays and blacks and very dark blues, with some Celtic knot work fabric, too.
Once that fabric gets sorted by color and type, it begins to feel like not enough, though.
Nonetheless, one has to keep going. Breaking up big pieces of fabric into smaller ones just results in a mess. Fabric has a warp and weft that holds it together. Once you start cutting into it, you break up its internal integrity and it will start to unravel. You’ve dissolved the bonds that hold it together. Now you need to begin to recombine it.
The key things to consider about that recombination are color, texture and weave. People like complementary colors rather than clashing colors. They like patterns, but they don’t want too many patterns next to one another. There need to be places where they can rest their eyes on relatively neutral hues, so that a patterned fabric can then grab their attention. That’s a lot to hold together in mental clarity.
And so we begin with somethiing relatively neutral, and matching the stars in certain particulars.
Hexagons have a particular logic to them when you start with triangles, as I have. Quite naturally the three stars are going to draw the eye first and foremost. So the quilt has to be built out around them. I have enough fabric to make twelve or thirteen more of these two-grays hexagons, but not enough to make a whole quilt this way. So my next step is going to be to construct another pleasing hexagon design, and interleaved the two-tone gray hexagons with that new design, while trying not to distract from the stars. My partner also recommended making more stars but in radically different colors. That could work too.
Yesterday at the fabric store, I met a woman who was making fabric furnishings for a Russian Orthodox congregation: linens for the altar and stoles and robes for the clergy. She was working on the stiff linen and brocade chalice cover, and had come in to find some more gold braid for the cover. It was beautiful. I have a long way to go yet, but it was a reminder that all kinds of people need all kinds of custom sewing work. Increasingly I’m prepared to handle it.
[…] have to grit your teeth, stomp your feet, and assemble a quilt that uses triangles or hexagons. You make your templates, slice up your fabric, and get to work sewing. And things go wrong. You mis-marked a triangular piece. You didn’t mark a piece. You […]