Tuesday, December 18, 2012

condensing the rainbow

OK--many of you may be familiar with my iconic quilt--rainbows of summer. It was large and square and included a sweep of the colors of the rainbow. What a statement of joy and fullness it offered. Is it a landscape? A seascape? One of those quilts that "just happened". Well, it didn't just happen but the decisions I made seemed inevitable when I was done.

So it was with some trepidation that I took on the task of making the quilt only half as wide. How could I get that complete sweep of color while maintaining the integrity of the piece. Certainly I wasn't going to make the individual wedges of fabric smaller. That would have lost the splashes of color and fabrics of the quilt.

No, I had to figure out the proportions of each color. The fabrics would have to be more important--more significant--since they had to do more work carrying the color progressions. This would be hard.

As always I told myself--make what I know. So I piece the row of yellow. So intense. So lonely on the design board, isn't it?

Then I study the quilt and make the green--a bright green with lots of yellows. This I know.

The bright teal though is harder. It must have some of the green. Hints of the blue. Just that right intensity. I cut lots of fabric and make a test sample. Is this the right shade? What will it look like as the whole?

I tweak the colors and sew. Yes, there are 12 blocks in each row. How long it seems to take. When will I finish.

More sewing. Again one row at a time. Slowly. I stop and think. Ponder the right colors. Pull out the fabrics and then do a test. Or two. Or three. It goes on and on. This takes months. Literally.

When will I ever finish? I had promised it for November. But that month has already passed. And so I work as hard as I can. But still it involves so much concentration that I can only do a bit every day. Then I sit and look at it. Wonder what comes next.

Even the sewing it together is long and precise. Sew the seams. Add the binding. Hand finish. Isn't it amazing how different it looks when it is sewn together?

 I work all week-end. The customer needs it by the holidays. Finally it is done. No time for a good image. Just this snapshot from my point and shoot. Yes it is straight but I just pin it up and take from an angle. That is OK.

 How empty my design board looks as I wrap it and place it in its box to ship to its new owner. What will she think? Does it capture the rainbow? And for me--what next? I have an extra wall for displaying quilts at the Baltimore Craft Show this February. And a customer who may want four related quilts about the rainbow. Would this be a good project?

And you--how do you start a quilt? Do you sometimes feel they will never get done? And can you indeed condense the rainbow?


  1. The quilt it beautiful. How do I start...by diving in. The starting is no problem, but the finishing now there's another story.

  2. Simple beautiful and so much time thinking each section. Sometimes it all just starts by playing around, sewing pieces together, standing back and see if there is anything.

  3. Thank you for sharing, nice to see a piece in sections. Itching to try my own interpretation in the materials I favour - pity a minor thing like Xmas in the way!!!