Regular readers may remember me wittering on a few weeks ago about my proposed entry for the Carrefour Européen du Patchwork on this year’s theme ‘Imagine’. If you read that far, you’ll know that I failed to make the deadline for this (26th June) and was consequently somewhat downcast. Since then, the unfinished piece has been sitting around in the spare room as I’ve not felt motivated to get on with it, and indeed, I hadn’t decided whether or not it would be worth finishing. Last week my stitching friend Bren came over for one of our stitching day meetings. These are supposed to take place about once a month, but it’s more like every eight weeks as we both have lots of other things to do. I didn’t have anything on the go for the stitching day, apart from my ‘Imagine’ quilt, so I got to work on it. Bren said she thought it was lovely and recommended that I should finish it, as I could try exhibiting it elsewhere. Good idea! It would be a lot of wasted work to abandon it now, and I feel re-enthused by getting some positive feedback on it. So, since then, I’ve been doing a few minutes of stitching every now and then, and as I’ve found in the past, if you do this regularly, even a large piece will sooner or later get finished.

My interpretation of the Imagine theme involved the use of lettering. I’ve not previously used lettering and was keen to have a go, especially after reading the Sara Impey book ‘Text in Textile Art’ that I reviewed a while ago on this blog. I thought I’d imagine a meadow full of flowers and stems, using the letters I, M, A, G, N and E. So this is what I did. One of the ideas I developed during the City & Guilds Diploma was using quite stylised images to create the image of a meadow with intertwining stems and stalks, so I’d already done some of the thinking. I did quite a lot of sampling of various techniques (spending too long on the sampling was one reason why the piece didn’t get finished) and decided to use a kantha-style technique for quilting. It’s a whole cloth quilt made using linen (no particular reason for this, except that I really like linen). Here’s an image of the I flower:The I flower in the Imagine quilt

I’ve chosen quite a limited range of colours – mostly greys with some yellows. I made plastic templates of the letter forms I wanted to use, then drew out the design in pencil, using the templates as stencils, on a piece of lining paper of the right size. When I was happy with the arrangement I pressed the linen, laid it out on the kitchen table, and drew the design, again using the stencils, in a very hard, fine pencil. Then I set up the sewing machine and filled in the shapes using free-motion machine embroidery. This bit didn’t take as long as I’d thought it would. The thread is Madeira rayon, which I like very much. Then I put together the quilt sandwich, using cotton batting and a plain calico backing, and started the hand embroidery. WELL…. what a massive job that has turned out to be. I am making a line in running stitch around each coloured shape, and then quilting the background using, not Kantha stitch, but seed stitch. This gives a very nice nubbly effect to the quilt. Here’s another close-up showing the texture. You can see a little bit of the M stem at the top of the photo.

Close-up of Imagine quilt

I’ve mostly finished outlining the shapes but there is lots of the ground work still to do. Perhaps I’ll finish it, perhaps I won’t…. if I do, it will be largely because of Bren’s encouragement. So… thank you Bren!

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