Sunday, May 6, 2007

The Dark Road

The quilt shop had piqued my curiousity, so I turned to the smartest thing I know: the web.

Entering "quilting" as a Google search term turned me out onto a dark road littered with too much information that had me stumbling all over the place. I started again: "quilting beginners." Now, IMHO, the problem with most written instruction is that people tend to forget what it's like to be a newbie. Experience and increased skill must create a type of amnesia that results in such breezy commands as, "Attach the binding." Binding?! What is binding? Where do I find it? How do I attach it? Or, "Cut strips on the bias." Ok. Sure thing. Just as soon as I can understand why I would feel any bias towards this beautiful fabric. I gave up and decided I would just have to proceed down this dark road without a flashlight.

I decided to inventory my sewing supplies, since I was now reading about rotary cutters and mats and rulers and threads (nylon, rayon, cotton, metallic?) and batting and needles and quilting feet, most of which I either didn't have or didn't know how to use. I ran across a stash of little fabric samples I had been collecting. I have no idea WHY I had been collecting them. I tend to pack-rat items so that at any moment a lack of supplies will not interfere with a bolt of inspiration.

I decided I would stitch all these pieces together to form some version of patchwork. The pieces were different sizes, different weights, and probably different materials, but I busily sewed them together, leaving the edges frayed. I picked up some thin cotton batting at the fabric store and sandwiched it between this patchwork piece and a solid piece of fabric for the back, then I set out to quilt it. I had no idea what I doing. I simply sewed through the three layers in a semi-diagonal fashion with no pattern. Then I added some zig-zag stitching around the edges of some of the patchwork pieces.

When I was finished, I realized that there were quite a few puckers in the piece; I'm guessing this was due both the difference in the weight of the various pieces, and to haphazard way I sewed them together. I could be wrong, of course, since I still have no idea what I'm doing. Anyway, I sewed some thin strips of fabric (frayed edges and all) on top of the patchwork to cover some of the puckers. I also cut a heart shape from some hand-painted fabric and sewed this onto the cover with invisible thread and beads. I had no idea it was so hard to sew beads on. I cut the quilted piece so that it was a nice rectangle shap, then I zig-zagged all around the edge.

Now, it was time to try to figure out how to attach the journal pages. I pondered and pondered, then finally took the easy route and bought a blank journal refill. I turned the right and left edges of the piece in and sewed them at the top and bottom. On the spine of the fabric cover, I punched a hole through the quilted fabric toward the top and toward the bottom with an awl, then added eyelets. I ran fibers and yarns through the eyelets and tied them at the top, then tied a few small beads and embellishments to the ends of the fibers. I hand-tacked the fibers down to the center of the spine since they seemed somewhat loose.

I love, love, love this journal cover. It's a mess, but it's so soft and strangely comforting (by the way: the front actually is an even rectangle, it just doesn't appear to be due to my lack of photography skills).

Mostly, this journal cover reminds me not to be afraid of even a dark road. Once my eyes adjust, it turns out the road isn't so dark after all. I may have to feel my way along, and there's a good chance I'm headed in the wrong direction, but a road always leads somewhere.

1 comment:

Retired and Loving It! said...

I love your journal cover. I, too, feel afraid to try new things and I agree the quilting sites assume you know about techniques already. I intend to follow your blog and perhaps you'd like to see mine.
I've been quilting for about two years and have taken several classes. An artist I'm not! YOU ARE.