Scrappy patchwork

In the strange cauldron that is my mind, what Block Party calls ‘wonky log cabin’ and what Slow Stitch calls ‘distorted log cabin’ suddenly became very compelling recently. This was the first one.

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I think the triggering factors were some dyeing that really didn’t work out as I had hoped (as you heard in my last post)–some of which became the foundation for foundation piecing and some of which became strips for the log cabin itself–and cutting out and piecing a garment.

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I don’t know what it is about offcuts that is so distracting to me that they take precedence over the garment or project that they are offcuts from… but this has become a theme.  I think I am beginning to understand that these themes in making are not problematic and don’t require resistance.  They might instead be what makes my work my own and not someone else’s.  I love that this piecing strategy lets me use the odd triangular shapes that I have been struggling to use, and sometimes regretfully trimming off in the creation of squares or rectangles.

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Here, they are perfect.  In fact, they drive the effect in a rather lovely way.

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The other happy feature is that instead of sighing and thinking ‘this is all I have left of that piece of fabric’, I can think…

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‘Here is the start of something wonderful’!  It is also an opportunity to use really well worn fabrics.  In this case, a cotton kimono sent home from my mother-out-law.  She clearly struggles with throwing away treasured threadbare fabrics and so I have been receiving gifts from her more and more regularly as the wish to have her cupboards clear has been growing in her.  High quality fabrics that have seen decades of use.  Damask napkins that have worn right through and which I’ve been using to interface embroidery.  Cottons that make a great foundation fabric but no longer have enough integrity to become a smaller garment or even a lining.  And the occasional treasure that she just can’t figure out how to use.

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I am really not sure what she would make of these blocks!  She loves the eco prints and has an eco print bag I am told she uses a lot.  But it might still be tough to see her cherished kimono become an underlayer!

11 Comments

Filed under Natural dyeing, Sewing

11 responses to “Scrappy patchwork

  1. Oh there are so many wonderful things about these blocks. I’ve been wanting to go on a bit of a scrappy binge since visiting my sister recently. She’s gotten back into a more formal style of log cabin, but it made my fingers itch just to see her work in front of me. Part of it is also as I’m in the final stretch of making work for my exhibition I want to be doing anything but what I actually need to be doing :). On a more serious note I think you are right that this work that keeps popping up is what makes it ‘your’ work. I have one of those myriad quotes from a poet (can’t think of who) which goes “whatever keeps getting in the way of your work, IS the work.” I think we can be quite stubborn at times in not ‘seeing’ what is really calling to us as far as art making goes.
    Hope this isn’t too rambling and incoherent. PS I’m having a break between bouts of stitching so I can comment on blogs as a distraction.

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    • This is a good thought–whatever gets in the way of the work is the work. I remember my supervisor saying something along these lines to me about my thesis once upon a time. Good luck with your exhibition! Wishing you a happy one!

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  2. These blocks are incredible…they are subtle and compelling and so beautiful. Are you on instagram? if so check out @pwpthalo and her #givewraps. She is a printmaker from Cambridge UK and she prints over just such linens as your mother in law is sending you to make givewraps. She includes repairs as part of the cloth. What an inspiring glimpse into your makings…thank you!

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    • Thanks so much for your generous comment. I haven’t made friends with instagram but did manage to be able to look and enjoy, thanks for the tip! I do love the idea of givewraps, but every time I have tried to make one I end up with a quilt so far 🙂

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  3. back in about 2008 or 09 i held a retreat at Strathalbyn during which quite a few students used natural dyes over just such fabrics as your kindly mother-out-law has supplied. i admit to having been sceptical as they went into the dyepot…and much delighted at how they looked upon their release. might be worth having a play….

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  4. wonderful wonkiness (hope that isn’t another one of those words with a completely different meaning down your way!)…such patient fiddling and repurposing!

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    • What a great expression, ‘wonderful wonkiness’! I am not sure it feels patient. It just feels like the thing to do. I began with a needle and thread but it wasn’t long before I got my machine to work on it!

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  5. I love it! Reminds me of ‘crazy quilts’….. which I have always favored over the more rigidly designed motifs. And the perfect way to use odd leftover pieces.

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  6. Susan

    I have done this with animal prints and have a long strip which is hiding in a drawer, forgotten 😦 It needs to be put on the back of a jacket. I like what you have done, thank’s for the reminder.

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