Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Designing for Fly Home--1 of 2

Sketches of possibilities
Years ago, I made two table runners and four microwave bowls for the guild's silent auction so the comfort quilts committee chair could buy batting to make more quilts. I used a striped fabric for the binding and for some of the blocks in the runner. I loved the striped fabric so much that I saved the leftover bits in a zip lock type bag.

Later, I got out the bits and stitched some together. At the time, our book club was reading, "The All Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion," by Fannie Flagg. I put some of the striped fabrics together. After playing a bit with the placement of them, I was surprised to "see" a spinning propeller. So I decided to applique that design to a black background.

My inspiration was that a female pilot was flying at night returning to base/home. I purchased a couple fabrics that I thought might work to build my "story" for the project. I also thought what to do next would come to me. Nope. . .no extra thought came to me. I left it on the design wall for months. Then I took it off the design wall.
Fabric palette 

I'd also been inspired by an art work display when we were in Australia of lines. . .a whole room of them. The bits stitched together was reminiscent of the line work. The lines also inspired me to develop a series of quilts with "line" as the theme. I have four pieces in the series. Hmmm,  perhaps, this will be a topic of a future post!
Jim Lambie, artist, used tape for this work

This project has been on my Finish A Long list for a long time--at least two years. I decided to try again to come up with "the rest of the story!" When I took it off the wall, I was thinking I could add some strips like Jean Wells. I got out my sketch pad and drew some thumb nails of different layouts. Not one of those sketches said to "pick  me" though! I was stuck.

Next, I looked through my stash and selected all the reds that I thought were in the right color way. I also had a couple silver shot cottons that I thought could represent runways. I spent some time pre-washing and checking each fabric for bleeding.
Testing fabrics next to the applique

Pondering design options for a finish
I placed the various fabrics around the applique. Right away, I was pleased with how they did go together and gave myself a pat on the back because choosing fabrics is an agonizing process for me.

Then, I looked at how the fabrics went with the applique. I realized the fabrics and the Jean Wells intuitive piecing that I wanted to do wasn't the approach that would mesh well with the applique. One or two of the fabrics might work into the design; but, the pieced lines idea was a no go because that technique felt like I was introducing another quilt into the design.

The silver that I thought would represent a runway, was too light and the darker silver was too close in value against the dark background. Some of the other fabrics had too much print or the shade of the fabric was too bright or too dull! I decided that although I might use a couple of the the fabrics, my palette was ready for another project!

I again pulled the few scraps left from the original project. I played with arranging the pieces. I liked the addition of the triangle; I liked the interest the other striped strips provided.

I tried a combination of layouts using the strip leftovers. I brought back some of the fabrics from my palette and played some more. My friend, JoJo, made some suggestions which gave me even more options to consider.

I asked myself many "what if" questions. For example, "What if I cut the stripe in half and added some trim on the edge of the stripe? "What if I used the trim fabric in another area of the project?" "What if I added some prairie points?"

Then I played some more! I trimmed the strips. I made some prairie points. I auditioned more layouts. I chuckled at myself. Getting this project to the finish was a battle! I liked what the trim added to the strips. I liked the design elements that the prairie points added. Of course, adding the prairie points created another challenge for me. . .how to finish the raw edge!!!
Prairie point possibility

I could leave it raw--too unfinished; I could cut the background and piece the prairie points--would make the piece smaller; I could add trim to cover the edge--too whimsical; I could use a piece of the background to cover the edge--might be too bulky. In the end, I cut the background and pieced the prairie points into the piece. The piecing didn't make too much of a difference in the overall size.

I auditioned a number of other designs; but decided one in particular told a good story. The trimmed strips represent runways and taxi ways; the upper left triangle represents another plane in the squadron. The other elements compliment the propeller design well.

The chosen layout
I appliqu├ęd the strips and the triangle. Yes, I'm leaving that piece of the strip because I want that piece to be part of the back! I have chosen the back fabric and I have pieced the label.

I placed a piece of polyester batting under the "runway" and "taxi" strips so this part of the design would come forward to the eye. I've  layered it with a piece of wool batting and I've pin basted it. I have stitched all around the elements and in all the ditches. I'm having conversations about the "fun" quilting and threads that are the next step. This project has evolved so differently from my initial plan!

Stay tuned!

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