Back to Basics

 January 10, 2014
Posted by Cindy
Applique Flower 2014 Cindy Grisdela

Applique Flower 2014 Cindy Grisdela

I spent a relaxing afternoon yesterday doing something I haven’t done in a long time – needle turn hand applique.

You’ll notice that this is a very different design from my usual abstract geometry! And there’s a reason for that. For the last year and a half or so, I’ve been participating in a challenge with a group of other quilters. It’s called “The June Bride” as an organizing theme. The organizer gave each person a vintage quilt block and the challenge is to create something new out of the old block. Each quilt has to be 24″ square and include blue somewhere in the design, referencing the old wedding rhyme–“something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”

I agreed to participate in the challenge thinking that it would stretch my creative muscles, and that has definitely been the case!

Now, I am way behind in getting these quilts finished, but I decided that this was the week I was going to get this

Bride's Bouquet in progress 2014 Cindy Grisdela

Bride’s Bouquet in progress 2014 Cindy Grisdela

project off my plate. I had two quilts to finish–no problem, right? Let’s go back to the requirement that each quilt has to be 24″ square. As I was preparing the two quilt tops for quilting by cutting the batting for the center, I noticed with a sinking feeling that they were not the same size. A measuring tape confirmed that this one–the Bride’s Bouquet–was fully four inches too large on all sides, 28″ square instead of the required 24″ Oops! I had gotten carried away with the design and failed to check the measurements as I added each new element, since my usual way of creating is more intuitive and less reliant on math.

Because of the log cabin corner blocks, it obviously wasn’t an option just to whack two inches off each side. So I had to rethink. This is one of my favorites of the challenge and I didn’t want to ruin it, but I wasn’t excited about taking the whole thing apart to make it the right size either! In the middle of the night, the solution came to me. I took the borders off and cut the red inner border down to just 1/2″ wide from 1.5″ then took the outer green sections off of the log cabins, cut the red down and put the green back on, shrinking the log cabin blocks from 5.5″ to 4″. Cutting the striped borders down to fit the log cabins made it the right size–whew!

Back to the hand applique. I didn’t think I wanted to spend the time using that method to put the flower over the old red and white basket block that I had been given. But after the time spend adjusting the girth of the piece, I decided I should do things the “right” way and do the applique by hand rather than fusing or raw edge stitching, which were my other options. And I have to say I’m glad I did. It didn’t take as long as I was afraid it would and it was very calming. Sometimes I miss that about hand stitching, which I used to do exclusively, until my ideas of new designs to try overwhelmed my ability to complete them in my lifetime!

I’m happy that I’ve learned to “draw with my needle and thread” using my machine. I enjoy that process as well, since there are a lot of things I can do with my machine that I can’t do by hand. But it was nice to spend a few hours going back to my roots as a quilter.

Some of the “June Bride” challenge will be on display at the “Something Blue” exhibit at Artspace Herndon January 14-March 2, 2014.

Remember that my Shared Colors exhibit with painter Jennifer Duncan is up at Katie’s Coffee House in Great Falls, VA until January 31–hours are 6 AM-3 PM Monday through Friday, and 7 AM-2PM Saturday and Sunday. You can also eat dinner there if you go in through the Old Brogue restaurant next door.

Mark your calendars for the Baltimore Craft Show put on by the American Craft Council February 21-23. I’m in Booth 4219.