Slow Sunday Stitching is here once again; I don’t know about you, but it definitely feels like the culmination of the week’s quilting for me. It’s a point of reference where I slow down and reflect on the week’s sewing. Sometimes I feel like it’s been a good week (however that might be framed) and things are moving forward, other times, well I’m stood standing wondering what happened!
It’s amazing to me that joining in with Slow Sunday Stitching began as a way to make connections with other quilters, but has become so integral to my ‘reflective practice’ (a very lofty term that!). Kathy’s given us an opportunity for regular, thoughtful sharing, encouragement and support that I cherish. I don’t suppose a quilter will often say a simple link up has fundamentally changed the way they approach their craft, but it really has for me. So much so that I’m considering a whole page devoted to Slow Sunday Stitching and ‘reflective practice’ (surely there’s a better way of describing that?!). If you’ve got a similar ‘craft changing’ experience to share I’d love to hear it, so comment away!
They say good things come along together: the Quilty365 sew along is another one of those good things. Again, it started off in a simple way but has become so integral to my day that it’s changed the way I work for good. It’s become a kind of medative ritual, so completely absorbing that I don’t notice time or anything else going on around me.
This past week’s slow hand stitching has mostly been about my Quilty365 circles (link to my latest circle gallery). After a few weeks of catching up I’m back to sewing one a day, so yesterday I decided it was time to dive in and start piecing some blocks together. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I felt I could see some themes developing that might result in two or more quilts. The first four pictures show how the process began.
- I looked through the blocks trying to decide which ones to work with that I thought had a similar aesthetic quality (literally just plonked on the easel)
- I then spent hours refining my choices and trying to make sense of the chaos
- You have to start somewhere, I told myself, so I forced myself to just stitch 2 together
- Then I began to feel more confident and finally, after about 4 hours, I felt like I knew where I was going.
I decided that a basic 9 patch format would help me make sense of the overall composition.
The keen eyed might notice that although there are 9 patches (in loose terms) in the picture above, there are only 8 circles. As I was working I realised that I wanted some ‘quiet spaces’, a place for the eye to rest. I’m sure there’ll be more of these as the piece progresses.
One thing I learned about working on a soft vertical surf is that although it’s good for working out your composition it’s not so good for improv patchwork that’s made up of so many pieces. As smooth as it looked on the easel, when I put the finished section on the hard floor I discovered some sections were full of ‘bubbles’ and nowhere near lying flat.
I unstitched a few pieces and machined them back together on Mary (the vintage hand cranked Singer I use), but there was one stubborn section that refused to be tamed (above)! It would be a difficult section to unpick so I told myself to be creative and do it another way. I reminded myself that what I’m really interested in exploring is ‘plain sewing’, the kind of utilitarian sewing and mending that holds things together, is strong, functional but unseen. I’m interested in making the invisible visible (there are a lot of metaphors here, but you can use your imagination to ponder what they might be!).
And here was the perfect opportunity to make the invisible visible,
out of need rather than trope.
I rolled some of the excess fabric over the adjacent seam and overcast it down (seen above on the right hand section). But the section to the right of the circle was still ‘bubbly’ and no amount of pulling the fabric around would make it lie flat. This beige fabric is slightly thinner than some of the fabric it’s stitched to and I wondered if this was the problem. I decided to stitch another piece of the same fabric behind it and see what effect it would have. Hey presto! I stitched the two pieces together with concentric running stitches, easing out the excess as I went and it worked like a dream.
There was another section where I’d managed to stretch the fabric out of shape, so I unpicked it and oversewed it back into place (above). Obviously, I’ve used a black thread and not worried about making tiny invisible stitches, so that I could make the invisible visible.
I’m so thrilled with the way this is working out! I realise I’ve been preoccupied with plain sewing for some time (things take a while to make their way to the top of my wee brain!) and it’s been surfacing in the collages I’ve been making for a while. As this piece grows I’ll be much more aware of it and when I do some more slow Sunday stitching this evening I’ll be encouraged when I need to make adjustments with visible hand stitching. In fact, I’m thinking that this piece might be the start of a series called ‘Plain Sewing’.
Slow Sunday Stitching tonight
Now I’m up to date with my circles (and believe it or not I even cleared my work table last night), I’ve been taking some regular stitches on my Ocean Waves quilt. My plan for this evening’s Slow Sunday Stitching is to spend a couple of hours on it while I watch/listen to something fairly mindless on the BBC iPlayer (well until the finale of the BBC’s adaptation of War and Peace comes on when all attention will be firmly fixed on the Napoleonic wars in early 19th century Russia!).
It makes me so darned happy to be taking several things forward, and on reflection this has definitely been a good week!
Linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching, and looking forward to seeing what everyone’s been up to this past week.
Finally just a reminder that my latest newsletter’s out, with lots of inspiring stuff for you: you can find it online here and if you like it (and why wouldn’t you?!?!) you can subscribe by clicking the tab at the top left of the newsletter page.
Until next time happy slow stitching!