Sewing: strips to squares

I’m working on a new quilt, in a new style.  I think it’ll wind up being a throw quilt, c. 50×60″ though it might be as big as a full sized quilt, roughly 78″x87″.  A throw seems more likely, though.

The structure of the quilt is to sew together long strips into panels.  These panels are about 10 3/4″ wide (five 2.5″ strips, where you’re losing about 3/8″ on each strip to assembly processes).  They’re cut into 10 3/4″ squares, and then sewn right sides together in squares which are then cut on the diagonal to produce four smaller squares. The process is tedious to do although visually interesting, with the strips gradually forming more and more chaotic and yet ordered components that come closer and closer to resembling quilting squares.  My partner things my color choices are weird.  I think they’re beautiful, although the final product may not, in fact, sell.  We’ll see.

These photos show something of the process. You can see the strips, with that little filip in the middle as they came from the jelly roll.  As the strips are ironed flat and assembled into panels, the panels get cut down into squares. The square are pinned face to face, and then sewn on all four sides. Sometimes the suggestion of flags or banners emerges from the pinned patterns; more often, a kind of crazed order emerges, one in which grids, stars and chevrons are hinted at.

I enjoy this kind of pattern work, to an extent. I might have done better if I’d chosen my own fabrics rather than going with a pre-cut jelly roll (and three of them, to produce 72 squares with a fair bit of leftover funkiness).  Some of the squares are reminiscent of the Ace flag (I think it’s the ACE flag?), while others are more suggestive of Christmas or other holidays. When assembled, there will be a sense of woven panels, or maybe stars, or maybe chevrons. Finding enough space to lay this quilt out an plan it may prove difficult, though. I’m constantly running up against the problem of non-infinite space.

Now what?  We have our squares. They’ve been pinned and sewn, and cut on the diagonals, and ironed.  From our strips have emerged some stripy triangles or depending on how you see them, diamonds that coruscate in two different directions.  Isn’t that chatoyance or brilliance?  Not exactly, and yet there’s a similarity, a kinship, with the jewel tones of actual jewels.

And this emerges from strips, you say? Why, yes, yes it does.  Long strips of cloth sewn together into panels rather like flags or banners or streamers.  Then these are cut into squares, sewn to other squares, cut on the diagonal and then unfurled and ironed flat.  There’s a story in the work, a story of patience and deliberateness, care and attention, focus in the face of boredom.  The real joy comes in the latter part of the process, as the squares emerge, and then as the larger pattern or design of the quilt can be allowed to form. Of course.

But isn’t this the way of it?  Solve et Coagula, dissolve and recombine, is constantly in force in the artisan’s studio.  We disassemble some things and reassemble others, looking for the way to assemble the parts in the way that’s most pleasing and aesthetically beautiful and useful to the world.Wh

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