Saturday, April 6, 2013

My Son, The Sun

Last year I learned about and joined SAQA. So far I have not been able to participate in any local events, but some of the art quilts being produced are quite amazing. For example, at the 2012 Houston Quilt Festival (an other venues), there was a SAQA exhibit entitled Seasonal Palette. This group of more than 30 quilts is now (April, 2013) in Cincinnati, Ohio and then moves on to other venues. They are fabulous.

Each year the organization auctions small (12"x12") donated quilts to raise money for their programs, exhibitions, etc. Last year I bought a couple of really cool pieces and this year I thought I would try my hand at making a quilt to donate.

Inspiration: I've got kind of a thing for Mariner's Compasses, especially after taking a class from Judy Mathieson. My idea was to make to make a small elongated compass and a second baby compass that would be like a mother and child. I wanted to show the mother Sun beaming down at her son Sun and enveloping him in the glow. This is also a play on classic words -- Meet my son the doctor, Meet my son the Lawyer, Meet my son the Sun... The child could have been a daughter, and maybe I'll try that next time, but it didn't slip off the tongue quite the same way, and I like catchy titles. 

Execution: I had a beautiful batik collection of 2 1/2" strips that I thought would make great sunny 'suns' and provide nice complementary contrasting backgrounds. The challenge to myself was to get the entire top and binding out of the strips.

Fabrics used
I designed the general layout and sized the compasses using EQ7, so that I could use EQ7 to print out foundations for paper-piecing the compasses. 

EQ7 Mockup used "custom set"
Foundations for the Mother Sun
"Son" Sun assembly diagram

The foundation pieces for the elongated Sun are all different sizes and thus are not interchangeable. They must be sewed back together in exactly the right place (i.e. 8 has to sew to 1; 2 sews to 3; etc and then 8-1 sews to 2-3, etc, see Son assembly diagram). The centers were machine appliqued. The edges were turned under using the freezer paper template and starch technique, and then the pieces were attached with a very narrow zigzag using a coordinating color of InvisiFil(r).

The compasses are not pieced into a background circle because that would have made too sharp a line, and my background fabric was already cut up into 2 1/2" strips and thus not big enough. 

Instead, the background was added around the compasses in an improvisational string piecing or log-cabin manner. I purposely used oversize pieces for the outer edges when I made the compasses, so that I could add 'strings' in straight lines without cutting off the points. The background was all made from the 1st and 4th fabrics in the package (total of 4 strips). Both fabrics have areas of blue or green background printed with lighter leaves and flowers. "Background" compass segments, shown in white in the foundation figure, were 'fussy-cut' to place the lighter green on the edges where the compasses meet, and to place darker blues and purples on the outer edges. One of the hardest parts was visualizing things in reverse, since the paper piecing results in a mirror image. The improvisational string piecing was done to shade the background correspondingly. 

The two Suns and their backgrounds were made separately and then joined together by "taking a page" out of Ruth B. McDowell's book. I made an exact freezer paper drawing of the desired finished layout on the shiny side and drew the polygonal seam that would place the baby Sun into the bigger background. Then I re-drew and added tick-marks across the seam line, marked corners, etc on the paper side, and finally cut the freezer paper into two pieces on the seam line. I ironed each piece onto the wrong side of the corresponding pieced Sun, carefully marked the seam-line and tick-marks and then cut to leave a 1/4" seam allowance. That part was pretty scary, after so much work. The final assembly was then a matter of matching the seam lines and tick-marks for the first leg, sewing a straight seam, clipping, pivoting, matching and sewing etc. 

Back of Meet my Son, the Sun
The quilting is relatively simple since the background is so busy. It shows a bit better on the back. I stitched in the ditch around each Sun's rays, did a loopy motif in the middle of each ray, and then free-motion quilted flames in the background, using two different variegated threads -- greenish for the greener areas and blue-purplish for the bluer areas. I've just started to experiment with embroidery embellishment, so added a perl cotton stem-stitched grid on the 'face' of the mother Sun. Next time I'll do that BEFORE layering and quilting. The binding was made with the few remaining scraps of the background fabrics by piecing things to place flower motifs to blend with the background in some places (see Front bottom edge), and not to blend in others. 

Out into the World: SAQA requires a label and a sleeve -- always a good thing. I got it done and sent in by the first deadline of April 1, 2013 and it is actually online (WooHoo!!). Hopefully, this little quilt will find a new home and raise a little money for a good cause.

Thanks for reading...

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