In recent news… last month I was quoted in an article on Martha Stewart Living!
I received an email through the blog several weeks ago from one Caroline Biggs, who said she was writing an article for Martha Stewart Living about how to hang a quilt. She said she’d seen my tutorial on How to Hang a Quilt with Command Strips, and could she include it and quote me as an expert? Uh… yes! So she sent me some questions, and I wrote replies, and now I’m in a magazine! Almost a month later, and I’m still amazed.
But, as you might have gathered from the title, the true purpose of this post is to announce that my Fitz Stitch Piece is complete, and submitted!
Here it is, pinned to a piece of cardboard for shipping. The background is a 400 thread-count white cotton, layered on cotton batting and machine quilted.
Once I was finished with the fish, I faced up to my next problem. I’d been planning the whole time to mount the pieces for the design onto the fabric with no visible stitches. I decided to use a technique I’d learned a few years ago from a tutorial on Modern Handcraft for modern hexies. It basically requires folding fabric around a template, steaming it so it holds the shape, popping the template out, and then gently gluing the resulting hexagon onto your background. Of course, this would work with all sorts of shapes, but I wasn’t sure it would give me the sharp edges that I wanted.
There are so many problems with trying to make anything in fabric look three dimensional. You can go full 3-D, which may be effective or may look really weird, or you can try for forced perspective, which again, very difficult to make it look good. I decided that, for this hand, with the techniques I know (which absolutely do not include convincing three-dimensionality), the only thing for it was to do it understated, flat pieces with lines that implied shape, and nice crisp edges so that it would read as a hand from across the room.
And then it occurred to me: what if I made templates for the hand, that didn’t have to come out?
So I made the templates out of heavy-duty fusible interfacing, the kind you use for bags.
I fused the templates to my purple cotton, cut them out with seam allowance, dug out my American Clover iron and my voltage converter, and very carefully folded the edges around each template and glued them down with Glue-Baste-It. (Which is one of my very favorite quilting tools; makes piecing and machine binding so much more precise!) You can see the three fingers that are finished in the picture above.
I did the same thing with the extra pieces of glass that are being re-assembled, and I embroidered a few wrinkles on the purple glove to kind of imply a shape. (Stem stitch, one strand of midnight blue DMC embroidery floss. The stem stitch made the curved lines slightly thicker in the middle, tapered at the ends, which was great.)
But for the fish itself, I wanted it to pop just a little bit more, and seem closer to the viewer than the pieces in the background. So, I added a layer of batting underneath the interfacing. Then, I carefully positioned my pieces on the quilted background (I so did not want to make all these elements all over again!), and glued them down with Fabri-Tac. (It’s a little thick and strings as it starts to dry (which it does really fast), so I might dilute it slightly next time. But it did make a great bond!)
Since the thumb had to rise slightly off the background, and couldn’t be fully glued down, I added a piece of black cotton to the underside, glued on with the edges turned under, just so no raw edges would be exposed. I’m sure no one’s ever going to see it, but I know it’s there.
Once I’d done this much, I knew exactly how much space I had left for my other blue glass pieces. (I confess I never bothered with drawing a complete sketch to life-size, since I knew I was going to handle it this way.) I made some decisions about rounded corners vs. sharp, and whether I felt like making a bit of tail for the fish. And I decided, this time, less is more. Let the original museum piece be the star of this square.
And there we are.
I also added some “distressing” with French gray Prismacolor on the blue pieces, to try and convey a sense of age, and it’s convincing in person, but I found it was all but impossible to photograph. So, that’s the way that goes.
And that wraps up a project that’s been on my mind, one way or another, since June. I’m REALLY pleased with how it turned out. The squares are all being sent to a master quilter to be assembled into a single piece; the Fitzwilliam’s Education Team has said they plan to display the finished quilt sometime next spring, and when I know the official opening date, I’ll pass it on.
For now, my tutoring job has abruptly picked up (now that I’ve been added to the part of the site where I can answer student questions and read essay drafts), and I’ve had kind of a bumpy ride the last few days getting up to speed on their protocols and paperwork, but it seems to be smoothing out. Crafting-wise, I’m planning to resume work on my blackwork patterns, which fell by the wayside when the house purchase started to pick up (which is thankfully going very well, btw). You should see the letter “W” up in my Etsy shop soon, and after that I’ll be adding letters as I complete them. I’ll try to check back in in a week or two.
Thanks for reading!