I’ve spent the last few days playing with pattern drafting, and am starting to get a little sick of it. It’s a fun intellectual puzzle, but I can only spend so much time tracing, cutting, slashing, re-taping, etc. patterns before my eyes start to glaze over! And I am really itching to get my hands on some actual textiles.
So I am thinking of doing a sampler quilt!
This is particularly ironic since quilting is the one fiber art that I haven’t enjoyed. (Granted, the last time I tried was fifteen years ago. I might have more patience for it now.) But I was thinking about Colette Wolff’s book on manipulating fabric, and thinking that I’d really like to make some samples using the techniques in the book. But what to do with them? Well, a sampler quilt would be a great way of unifying the samples and ensuring I didn’t lose them, and it would be an interesting thing to show off at my weaving/fiber arts guild. It would also give me an opportunity to play around with dyeing (in conjunction with fabric manipulation techniques) and with the two-dimensional design principles I’ve been learning. In fact, it could be a really interesting project, and one that I could work on during my weaving “down time”. And I think that, if it came down to it, I could convince a quilter friend to quilt it for me. I don’t think any fancy quilting would be required/desired, mostly just enough to hold the fabric and backing together. I could probably “stitch in the ditch” myself, if I did the samples as squares. (No reason they need to be square, of course!)
Now, normally I only work on one project at a time, but until my hip recovers, the Handwoven garment contest project is dead in the water. And studying fashion design is best done in measured doses. So I am thinking that making small samples – quilt squares – would be a good way to fill in time and “test the waters” on fabric manipulation.
The first question is what fabric to use. I have plenty of cheap muslin, but I’d like a better quality fabric if I’m doing a quilt. I am debating between buying quilter-quality white muslin (which would cost more and require adding more fabric to my stash) and using silk. The advantage to silk is that I have lots and lots of silk in various types, so I could experiment with different weights and drapes when making my samples. I could also dye silk with either acid or fiber-reactive dyes, which might come in handy sometime (and might not). I will probably also use silk when making my wearable art garments, because I like the fiber. The advantage of muslin is that it is probably more durable and more appropriate for a quilt. I will mull it over, and perhaps ask some quilters for their recommendations.
(This putative quilt will never grace a bed, by the way. I’m MUCH too hard on my linens to think of putting something this labor-intensive on the bed. So I’m not worried about that.)
I do plan to play around with dyeing as well. One interesting idea is to create gathers, and dye the tops and bottoms of the gathered ridges/pleats different colors. So it would look mostly one color, but with hints of the other color peeping through. Or use one color for the main body and another for an accent. I could write reams about the possibilities in mixing fabric manipulation with dyeing!
Anyway, this seems as good a way as any to keep myself off the streets, and sounds like fun besides. I think I will start the first sample tomorrow morning.