Do you have a fall-back project that you turn to when you can't decide what to do next? Mine is making yardage--piecing together scraps to make a piece of fabric big enough for a project. When I am in this mode I have no specific project in mind, I just piece together what I have and decide later how to use it based on the size of the pieces I end up with.
This is the mode I have been - basically since Thanksgiving. I finished up my "Tyler-Art" pillows and I'd sent scarves to all the shops that needed them. I wasn't ready to commit to starting a major project - like a jacket - even though I know I need to make some new ones to meet my goal of submitting for new juried shows. I wanted to allow time for holiday things like cookie baking and the kids coming to visit, but wanted to make sure I still spent time in my studio doing something useful. So I decided it was piecing time.
I have to admit that this time I have a little more focus to my piecing, in that I know I'll want to use my yardage in a jacket. I don't know how yet, so I've structured my project a bit to give myself options.
First part of the process is sorting the scraps into color-coordinated piles. Right now I am working with only the scraps given to me by Maria Testa--all hand-dyed silks. They are so luxurious to work with.
After trying several piecing methods for using these, I've settled on foundation piecing. I stitch them down to silk organza. The organza gives the soft silks a bit more body--needed for jackets, but not scarves--without making them too stiff. The process is much slower than fusing, but I like the resulting hand much better. Even using a very lightweight fuseable gave results that I found too rigid for garments.
I tear off a strip of organza and begin stitching down pieces of the silk; one at a time, pressing the seam after each piece. I chose the next piece based on color and size. How does the color work with the previous piece? How can I maximize my fabric usage while making an interesting design? I want to throw out the least amount of leftovers that I can. If a cut off piece has even a small amount left after seam allowances, I save it to be fit in somewhere later.
I started stitching with a pile of rusts and greens and a strip of organza about 10" wide. I still had more fabrics in those colors so I made another narrower strip. From the smallest pieces I made a bunch of squares. I coordinated the sizing of the strips and squares to make it easier to put them together later into still larger pieces - if I decide to do that.
And I just kept going. By the time I finished with that pile of rusts and greens I had two wide strips, one narrower strip and 14 squares. Seems like enough that I'll have plenty of flexibility in how I use them.
Now I've gone on to my pile of turquoise and blues. It's just so satisfying to clean up these piles and create something new and fresh and beautiful. Thanks again to my friend Maria.
Mother & daughter, Ann Lee & Sonja Lee-Austin share their joys and struggles in their art and lives.