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Thursday, 1 November 2012

Stained Glass window block

Officially, no longer a beginner, this year, I've been given the option of following the instructions set by my patchwork & quilting teacher to make another quilt, or, to do my own project: I chose the latter. Doing my own thing doesn't mean I'm completely ignoring the curriculum–in fact I enjoy dipping in and out of it whenever I feel the need for a break from my Chinese Coins quilt.

A couple of weeks ago, I took such a break and joined in with the stained glass block project. I can't say I'm a particular fan of the stained glass quilts I've seen (too many tulips, irises and heavy lines for my liking) but the technique really appealed to me, so I thought I'd give it a go. One of the pleasing things about producing random blocks, and not having to consider how they will look when combined in a finished quilt, is that I'm not restricted to a specific colour scheme. This provides a perfect opportunity to experiment and not worry if it goes wrong, or, I don't like the result.

Rather than sew a flower though, I opted for something more abstract–a couple of circles and some floating parallelograms, (which was about as much design work as my tired brain could conjure up after a day spent in front a computer). My arrangement still set the same technical challenges, such as making bias binding (rouleau can also be used) and shaping it into smooth curves and neat corners, but this way, I could produce something that didn't look like a fabric version of a colouring-in book.

I realise how disdainful I must sound about pictorial quilts, but they aren't my thing at all. There is something about them that reminds me of eccentric English ladies, with booming voices, and magnificent chests, who wear jumpers with cats and sheep emblazoned on them. I love subtle quilts, or quilts made from abstract patterns such as, Log cabin, courthouse steps, or, flying geese. It never fails to impress me just how clever these patterns are, how when you first see them, the reason for their title may not be immediately obvious. Then, rather like an Escher illusion, you see it, and think, of course, that's so apt!

The finished result isn't the finest thing I've ever made. In fact I was tempted to hide this block away and ignore its existence–but that would be cheating. One of the main reasons I started this blog was to chart my progress, and that means both the successes and failures. Besides, the important thing about this exercise is what I learnt from it: like what a perilous and fiddly process making bias edging is–hellish to press flat with the seam neatly concealed on the reverse side. To puff the strips out a bit, I pushed mine on to some knitting needles for a few hours until ready to press. I quickly learnt that a cumbersome iron was unsuited to such a delicate job (a bit like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut) and I spent more time burning my fingers than I did pressing any bias binding.

Completely exasperated, I was just about to give up, and abandon the project, when I remembered some old hair straighteners. At first I was a little skeptical as to whether or not they might work, after all, if they did, it would seem a little too good to be true. But, I am glad to report they were a revelation, super-easy to handle, and did the job perfectly in no time at all!

So, while I have accepted, a) my failure at making stained glass blocks, and, b) my frizzy curls, I have, at least, found a use for my neglected hair straighteners. And that is a result!


1 comment:

  1. I admire your attitude:-) I think your block is very interesting - and I don't mean that in a "it's got a nice personality" kind of way!


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