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Archive for January 6th, 2004

Bargello Quilt Dreaming

Tuesday, January 6th, 2004

Well, at JoAnn last week there was a very good sale on cotton brushed flannel. I had been contemplating how a flannel quilt would be a comfy thing to wrap myself in on the couch, now that I can’t have the down comforters I used to wrap myself in. (I am very allergic to birds, I don’t know why I thought I could have down bedding.)

I am not really fond of the texture of woven cotton. I like knit cotton fabrics, especially those with Lycra in them. But I do just love cotton flannel. So here I go… I gave in to the good prices on the fabrics and dove in. There were several fabrics in colors I like together, so I did it.

I have a wonderful wall quilt (see picture) that was made for me by my sister-in-law, Judy. She picked my name at Christmas one year when I was very new in the family. She figured out early what my favorite colors were, and she made me this incredible quilt. It is a technique called “Bargello” quilting. Interestingly, I had a book on bargello quilts which I got as inspiration for my polymer clay work, so I knew about the technique.

Essentially, you join the fabrics into a sheet of horizontal strips (often the same height), then you slice the strips crossways into vertical strips (typically not the same width, because you have already graphed a curve on paper and determined which widths would create the curve you want). Then you take those vertical strips and slide them up or down depending on the pattern you want, and seam them together (sometimes with a spacer strip between them). There are amazing possibilities with this technique, but even the simplest one is a visual delight. And what I like is that this is a beautiful way to work with color, without making tiny little triangles or some such thing. Strips cut into strips and then sewn back together, I think I can do this.

So here is a picture of the fabrics I have right now, chosen for the quilt and in an order I like (at least today). Of course, now seeing them in a photograph I want to change them around some more, and I surely will play with it for a while before I finalize anything. The bold green seems so out of place no matter what I do with it, until I remove it from the group. Then the whole thing becomes boring. I think that color will take the most thought, but it definitely needs to remain.

I have more of the dark turquoise with pinkish roses (because I love the colors best), so for now I’m hoping to feature that fabric more prominently, using it twice in the color transitions. I may change my mind later, we’ll see.

I expect this project will have a slow development. For one thing, I hadn’t used my sewing machine in 1.5 years and I just unearthed it for a couple holiday gifts. In order to do a quilt I will no doubt have to bring it down to the kitchen table to get the fabric laid out well. But hey, I made a comforter once when I was about 20 years old, and I sewed the edges just fine. I can do it again. Actually, for about 10 years, sewing was my primary creative outlet but I typically sewed clothing during those years. Before that I did a lot of household sewing, so this will just be a blast from the past. I have not done quilting, but straight lines I can handle.

I think I’ll enjoy the quilt when it finally has been borne into this world. I need to allow myself time to work into this. For one thing, I still don’t have all my supplies. I need to decide what batting I want inside the quilt. My bargello quilt book suggests very thin batting to show off the pattern best. However, the author often makes wall quilts, where I can see that thin would be good.

I have this great idea that a wool batt would be wonderful… and I know at least two sources for these, but they are not inexpensive. On the other hand, Jo-Ann has some very nice cotton batting that comes really wide (I think 90″ wide and that is how long my quilt needs to be if it is a twin bed size as I am planning right now).

Oh, in other great news… I have been singing and it is wonderful. I’m working up two new songs, with Brian’s help. (What would I do without him to figure out the chords for me?) We will be performing at a party on Sunday and I think I’ll be a full member of The Fabulous Heftones again. Finally. Life is good, when I can sing.