Friday, July 7, 2017

Off the Wall: Balancing Act 3

Browsing around the Internet a while back I found a blog post by quilt artist Maria Elkins describing the use of free form curved piecing to inset tiny strips of striped fabric in squares of hand-dyed cottons.   I've done a lot of free form curves but this particular use of the technique looked interesting so I decided to give it a try.  I began by making little five inch blocks. 

As I made the blocks I put them up on my design wall. 

 Seeing them there I thought of some batiks I had that might complement them and tried them out with the blocks.  

And I remembered that many years ago I had taken a piece of black cotton and stamped it with a commercial circle stamp which I had dipped in bleach.  The bleach caused the black to discharge and left a wonderful bronze circle pattern.   It was in my "special fabrics" drawer just waiting for this chance to shine.

Gradually, I joined the little blocks together to make bigger blocks.

It was like putting together a puzzle, but without directions.

I tried out various arrangements of the blocks.

After I added borders on the right side and on the bottom I was happy!  The final design measures 18x18".  

 The next decision was how add the quilting.  I decided to echo the curved lines in the blocks using a heavier weight thread than usual.  I liked that so well that I extended some of the lines into other blocks.  Whee!  Adding all those quilting lines was fun!

My joy was short lived, however.  I had used a blue disappearing marking pen to mark just two --count them, just two! -- quilting lines.  The pen marks are supposed to disappear when you spray them with water but instead the blue ink ran into the blocks.  What a disaster!  I've used that pen a million times and never had a problem, but I'll certainly never use it on hand-dyed fabrics again! 

I had no choice but to wash the entire piece several times and used lemon juice, Oxiclean, and Spray and Wash to try and get the blue marks out.   I was not a happy camper as I saw how the various hand-dyed fabrics reacted to being washed and treated.   Only after steaming it, ironing it, and blocking it back into shape did the piece begin to look right again.     

After that detour I still needed to decide how to present this little quilt as a finished work.   Instead of adding a hanging sleeve on the back and hanging it as a wall quilt, I decided to mount it like a piece of artwork. 

I painted an artist's canvas black and stamped it with bronze circles so that the circles on the fabric carried over to the canvas.  I had so much fun painting and stamping that I got carried away and added way too many circles.  After much deliberation, I ended up painting black over all of the circles except one.  Can you spot it down in the bottom left corner?  

Whew!  That was a lot of decision making and work, but I did enjoy the process and I love the final result.   

Linking today today to  Nina Marie Sayre's Off the Wall Friday. 


  1. I'm a big fan of free-form curvy stitching and have done my share. I love this piece, the colors, the design and the quilting.

  2. This is great. What thread do you use? I have a lot of thinner thread, but should get some heavier ones.

  3. Even tho that had to be so frustrating with the pen not disappearing, all of your work and perseverance was worth it because this piece is beautiful! mary in Az

  4. Wonderful to watch the process and the beautiful, imaginative outcome!

  5. Fabulous artwork! You can display it anywhere, even Paducah! Only suggestion is to include your name somewhere. Or is that something quilters don't do?

  6. I agree with Jim--this is a joy to observe! And I've just seen the photos! It is both lively and calming at the same time--just a delight.


I'd love to hear from you!