Friday, January 27, 2012

Early Works

Way back in the late '80's, early 90's, I belonged to a small juried-in quilt group made up of Chicagoland art quilters. This included Caryl Fallert, Ann Fahl, Judy Walters, Jane Sassaman, Ellen Anne Eddy, and a few others whose names I have forgotten...duh.
I was a newbie and full of awe at being in the same room with these luminaries. I wanted to be one of them, art-wise and was hoping to impress them eventually. I worked in a factory full-time and only had the weekends to quilt. (and I sewed all day at the factory!) but, I had ideas. One of them was to make a logo for myself and my business cards that was a representation of my other art, painting, and of my new art of quilting. I made a 2" square painting of a very loose nine-patch and this black and white quilt was designed based on that. It's called Nonchalant Nine Patch. But I am getting ahead of the story. I had to make this design, so I did a 12" mockup, using Wonder-under and made a totebag as a start. I brought it to the meeting and discussed my desire to make a real quilt out of it with Caryl Fallert, while shivering in my boots. The only way I could figure I could do it was with fusing, but I was afraid that was CHEATING. (Imagine that...) I really couldn't imagine turning under all those wiggly edges and hand appliqueing them! Caryl thought fusing was the answer too, and gave me the nod. Seriously. What a relief. If it was OK with her, I was good to go. I had no idea this would be the start of all of my serious work.

Also at that time, I was trying to dye fabric with Rit and just couldn't get the vibrant colors that I saw in Caryl's and Judy Walters' quilts, which were dyed with Procion dyes. I was afraid of them because I read health warnings etc, and really, I had no place to dye anything in the house in which we lived. But Caryl told me what dyes I needed to use and what fabric to buy and shortly thereafter we moved to a house where I did have a laundry room and a sink and so I began to dye my own fabrics. This quilt, Emergence, is my first work using all my hand dyed fabrics, all of them in one quilt! It is pieced on a tearaway foundation and then cut into smaller squares and reassembled.
So I am telling you this stuff because years later, I can see that giving permission and giving information can lead to something much bigger than it might have seemed at the moment.
Since we are going to be doing Quilt Along With Melody starting February 1st, I thought I would begin with fusing a small art quilt. This means that if you want to learn to do this, you'll need to fuse your fabrics ahead of time.
Normally I would insist on using only hand dyeds (not batiks either) but that may be too much to ask for beginners. So as suggested earlier, get some solids together in wide range of colors* and fuse half yard lengths. Please use only regular Wonder-under** and fuse, cool, peel. In fact, to be smart, fuse everything and then later peel off the paper, and try to keep the paper intact. We'll use the paper as our construction site.
Try not to be afraid. I'll be right there with you.

*Suggested colors? Red, orange,yellow-orange, yellow, lime, kelly green, aqua, turquoise, bright blue, light and deep purple, magenta, fuchsia, hot pink.
**A better deal for Wonder-Under can be had if you have a 40 or 50% off coupon from Joann's.

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  1. Good Morning!

    I have been reading your blog a long time and in fact we communicated a couple of times. I appreciate your willingness to share your expertise, and for me, fusing is going to be a very new thing. I also dye my fabrics (using some of your hints) and so will use what I have on hand for this first project. Thanks again! I am on board (I think). Have a great day!

  2. Melody,
    I had a wonderful time in the class I took from you when you were in Denver some years ago. You were doing the very encouraging then that you are speaking of now. I say this so that you know that is it a wonderful part of who you are - naturally. You saw things in what I was doing that I could not see myself.
    Thanks for all that you do, even when you don't know who it touches!

  3. This is the first I've heard about the quilt along, is it going to be on your blog? Is there a cost? How many half yards do I need? Will the quilt be small or large, etc. etc. I've never fused but adore your stuff!

  4. I have so loved your blog, even more now, seeing these breath-taking early works! Thank you!

  5. This is huge..."So I am telling you this stuff because years later, I can see that giving permission and giving information can lead to something much bigger than it might have seemed at the moment. "

    I can't wait to play! (I'd love to have all hand-dyed, but I must think about using my stash. I'm going to invest in the process this OK? Thank you for being a mentor.)

  6. NOW can you REALLY appreciate the Nonchalant nine patch? That is really something I would be proud of having made. Like really!

  7. dear dear Melody,
    "So I am telling you this stuff because years later, I can see that giving permission and giving information can lead to something much bigger than it might have seemed at the moment. " Abso-freaking-lutely.

    I have been reading your blog, every single day, since I found it a few months ago...after randomly googling "art quilts". I didn't even know that it was a term that would have any results. Truly. What an awakening. After "finding" you, I went to the library and checked out 23 art quilt books - all that they could get for me.
    I am 55 years old, and feeling it. I have worked my butt off since I was 16, and am still doing so...but - fabric is now loudly speaking to me, instead of whispering, and I am no longer going to ignore our conversation....I want to make quilts and I want to make art. I will do so. I "knew" there was something more than just sewing 9 patches together and being anal/excited about whether or not my seams match perfectly...although, I do adore 9 patch design old quilts, all hand pieced and hand sewn.Herstory.
    Your blog is honestly the only one I check in on, EVERY day. I don't have time to waste, with my have-to-work-for-a-living constant time suck, and my age, so I am getting ruthless about what I spend my time doing. I even love it when you only share about your knitting, as my Mum was a wonderful knitter, so I grew up with the comforting sounds of click clack click needles, and have an entire dresser of beautiful hand knit sweaters from her hands. She passed 9 years ago now, and I miss her so so much, so your knitting stuff is comforting to me.

    So- today I just had to write and let you know that I exist - hi there! and that what you do & share and work on matters to me,interests me, is helpful to me, and inspiring and encouraging to me.
    I nodded in understanding when you shared that you acknowledge that you did stuff in the past with your work, hoping to become famous...I am at a similar time in my life where I am acknowledging what paths I was on, and what paths I now wish to be on, and why, with acceptance.

    Could you explain more fully what the deal is with your quilt-along? Is there a cost? How does it work? What fabric should I get to dye? I did read Procien dyes - I am a total newbie to this whole concept.
    And by the way - way to go! on your recent endeavour to get healthier - I laughed out loud when you moaned about posting your "before-diet" pic - I have been looking at this new drooping jowly skin from my jaw line with a mix of horror and amazement, and noticing for the 1st time, non-stop "Lifestyle Lift" infomercials on TV...bah, I say - bring it on.
    Cheers. And thank you.

  8. I'm excited to start!
    Have a good weekend :)

  9. What a seriously gorgeous quilt! I'll "watch" the quilt-along and am looking forward to all the reminders and excitement about fusing. So glad that Caryl "gave you permission" to fuse! :-)

  10. I have been thinking along these lines of changing my quilting methods you can only make so many quilts for people you know ...what can I do next ....yes Reading your blog you have given me an idea but where do I start .... And again you have answered the question ...I will be reading and trying on the first of Feb ...
    Thanks Lorraine
    From Blueys Beach in Australia


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