What Was Old is New Again

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After a trip to Venice one year, I got the bright idea to re-create the magnificent floor in the cathedral, but with subterfuge.  Some of the sections would bleed into the others, and others into others, and all of a sudden it got very complicated very fast.  Either this is a really good example of Deconstructionist quilt style, or it’s a Venice Cathedral Floor Gone Bad.

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I’d also taken a class from Hollis Chatelain at Road to California, and had come under the spell of her close, narrow quilting.  Now it’s called matchstick quilting, but then, we didn’t give catchy names to rows and rows of thread, narrowly spaced. The back:

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I used to hate it, but I must admit, given the hundreds of quilts that are now using Hollis’ matchstick quilting, the quilt is growing on me.  The reason why I’m revisiting this quilt’s new-again-technique, is to also look at this one, too:

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Every Common Bush Afire, No. 31

A sampler quilt, made when I trekked up several weeks in a row to take classes from Carolyn (of Road to California fame) it hangs every fall in our upstairs hallway, reminding me of fall colors in cooler climates.  I love looking at it, and love the colors.

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But this is why it’s being revisited: the large maple leaf on the back.  I made this in the year 2000, but now you see fancy pieced quilt backs everywhere.  I still am of two minds about pieced backs, as getting it on straight seems to be a challenge, as well as dealing with the many seams.  Obviously pieced backs have evolved and it’s more like pieced strips-on-a-back with bits of extra blocks rolled in.  But it’s fun to realize that at the time, I’d given something new a try.

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The label is underneath three overlapping leaves; the quilt shows this has been in are below on little labels from those shows, which lately I haven’t seen given out.  I should still make my own labels, if only to properly identify the quilt’s provenance. Last blast to the past:

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Nihondaira, No. 53 (2003)

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I’m revisiting this one for the hand-quilting coupled with the machine quilting.  This one is specific, using sashiko thread, a thicker embroidery thread from Japan.  I began this in a class taught by Roberta Horton, a true master of quilting.

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She talked about not fretting if you didn’t have enough of the specialized yakuta fabric, but instead to be creative, finishing the shape with the hand-stitching.  So I did.

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Another pieced back, using a gradated fabric (aren’t you seeing those again?)

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Yeah, I realize I sound like a quilt geezer.  But this might explain why I don’t get all in a froth when I see these techniques *burst* out into our quilt world as the newest! greatest! most amazing! thing.  I had a conversation with Debbie of A Quilter’s Table not too long ago, and we discussed how some of these people–like Hollis, or Roberta Horton, or even Nancy Crow–seem to have faded into the background of our quilty life.  I love the new and the novel as much as anyone, but I also recognize my debt to these amazing women, who were innovating, even before social media’s sticky grasp.  Do we exist if we are not on Instagram?  Or Facebook?  Or run a blog?  Do techniques from a decade or so ago remain hidden, except when those of us who have done them, bring them out into the light of the internet?

You know the answer.