I started this in January, prepping up the stars and beginning the hand-blanket-stitching a couple of days after my rotator cuff surgery. This was a bright spot during that time, keeping me focused as I moved forward through different steps of what I was calling my “Liberty USA” quilt.
My friend Susan of Patchwork N Play, in Australia, is always hand-quilting her quilts, and I wanted to try that, too.
So I rustled up some patriotic colors of perle cotton from my Oh Christmas Tree quilt, and went to town…well, riding on a pony and all that, because it took some time to do this.
I cut some fabric for the rod pocket this week and on the selvage, I saw this. Perfect for my title, I thought!
It’s up there, stitched onto the rod pocket in the upper right corner.
I listened to Hamilton, the novel, last year and one take-away for me was how imperfect our early Founding Fathers were, but what a magnificent thing they created as they pulled together and figured out our country and its laws. They had patriotism in its purest form: e pluribus unum, out of many, one (our country’s motto). I try to keep that ideal in my head every year as I celebrate our Independence Day.
And yes! I finished the quilt by my self-imposed deadline of July 4th, so that’s great news.
This makes three red, white and blue quilts for me.
I’m way behind my friend Sherri, of A Quilting Life, who has over a dozen in this collection. Head over to her blog to get a tour. I’ve got to get busy to catch up with her!
Well, I finished up the top of my Liberty USA quilt. And in other breaking news, I also was cleared to take off my sling. My hands are now free-er than they were a week ago (and I’m even typing more, rather than dictating) but it’s still a slog for a long while. So, this quilt top will rest until I can figure out how to quilt it, since the left arm is more like a wet noodle than a functioning member of a FMQ duo.
But it’s fun to be at this place.
One interesting drawback to this whole one-arm thing, is that you can’t clean up the sewing room very well. So the day after I got my sling off, I noticed the pile of Sarah Jane scraps on the top of the cutting table, as it was one of the last projects I did before heading into surgery. I had wanted to make Eliza a doll quilt to match her big-bed quilt, and now was my chance. I scissor cut some pieces, sewed them together, and finished the top.
I tried quilting my HQ Sweet Sixteen, practicing on a quilt square scrap, but it was a no go. You need two hands for that. So I used my walking foot on my regular machine and was able to get it quilted. Off it goes into the mail today!
I’m not doing much cleaning, or sewing, but I have been doing some thinking about where we get our inspiration from.
This is Ingrid Blood’s Bye Bye Rubric Cube. I have seen it twice now, once in the fall, and once at Road to California, and thought it was terrific. Then, because I sit and read and read and read (lately), I found this:
Look familiar? I wonder if it’s more than a coincidence that Blood used Edna Andrade’s abstracts as inspiration (even to the use of that red center), but I have no way of knowing. Andrade, although she died some years ago, was more popular at the end of her career and after her death. She worked in the Hard Edge school of painting, of which June Harwood was a “member” — a painter brought to my attention by my nephew, who is observant in All Things Art & Design. (I actually have two nephews like this, and their IG feeds are always full of interesting images.) These painters’s ideas are ripe for the picking by modern quilters, as they have a distinct lines between edges, which suits our medium of fabric. Here’s some more Andrade:
I remember being in a discussion in a class taught by Ruth McDowell, where someone posed the question if she should be acknowledged when we finally finish our quilts. Typically self-effacing, she offered that it would be a nice gesture to acknowledge those that inspired us, or helped us.
Why are we loathe to state our sources of inspiration? Does it diminish our efforts, or is it really unnecessary? Andrade didn’t acknowledge the other hard-edge painters in the corners of her paintings, but Wikipedia notes that:
Andrade listed artists who particularly influenced her style including Paul Klee, Piet Mondrian, and Josef Albers. Andrade also notes that she was influenced by architectural design, philosophy, mathematics, and design (Locks bio). She was specifically inspired by things such as astrophysics and Freudian psychology, contributing to the complexity and detail of her paintings.
And from the notes from the Locks Art Gallery:
I think many of us are skittish after the Modern Quilt Guild laid down the law on “derivative works” last year, and we are skittish about recognizing where things come from, just in case the Quilt Juries don’t let us in. While I do think there is some good things that came out of the pronouncement last year (just how many floating rectangle quilts can we invent?) it also did harm to those of us who dabble far and wide in our inspirations. [For an excellent recap of that tempest, head here.] I hope we come back to a more even pitch, so that we can give credit to things that inspire us, just as Andrade did.
I would never have this quilt if it hadn’t been watching the Apple Keynote address when they launched their iOS system changes a few years ago. I boldly put the inspiration on the entry form when I entered it into QuiltCon a couple of years, and they rejected it. Did they reject it because of the Apple connection? I’ll never know, but it doesn’t really matter. Yes, it’s derivative and yes, I love it. It hangs in the front hallway of my home, and it’s still a favorite. Instead of worrying about whether or not quilt juries will accept our quilts if we springboard off of someone like Andrade, we should make what we love, from what inspires us, and not be afraid of our inspiration.
I’ve made some progress by getting the first (left) side sewn down.
It’s pretty wonky, but I’m leaving it as a testament to this wonky time in my life.
In my pain-killer-addled brain the day I mapped this out, I resorted to doing the freezer paper appliqué method, so everything looks pretty 3D-ish when laid out. In hindsight, I probably should have done it differently, but the quilt will still get done this way. Better to move forward, than to take too many steps back.
I have always wanted a patriotic mini-quilt, so before surgery, I prepped up these little stars, fused them down to 2 1/2″ squares of fabric and stitched them together in a block. I figured I could stitch on them while healing. I would use some of those pearl cottons I’d collected while doing Oh! Christmas Tree, and blanket stitch around the shapes.
The first day, all I could stitch was ten minutes. I came back to it a week later and over a few days, finished them up. Now what?
I taught my husband how to rotary cut, and we got some stripes together (short is 8-1/2″ x 2-1/2″; longer is 16-1/2″ long x 2-1/2″). I swapped out my big machine for my teeny Featherweight, and stitched them together, one-handed. At my first check-up the doctor gave me the go-ahead to do stitching, as long as I wore my sling, saying it would be “therapeutic.” Oh, yes.
Putting on these scissor-cut 1-1/4″ borders was not easy (finish at 3/4″). I’m so used to man-handling the fabric for speed, I’d forgotten how to slow-stitch, or slow-quilt, or whatever you want to call it. Before, I would grab the strip in front and in back and put some tension on it, floor my foot pedal, and force that fabric into place. Since I only have one hand available to help guide it through the machine, this wasn’t going to work.
Auditioning the next border, with the realization that there is no driving, either, so no running to the fabric store if I don’t like what I have. I scissor cut the borders, laid out the little mini quilt face-up on the ironing board, and gave it a good press and smoothed it out. Next I laid the border face-down on top, and again pressed it. Since I can’t force these pieces together, I have to coax them. I pinned them together in many places, and fed the seam slowly through the machine. Flattest border I ever put on, with no puckers anywhere.
I had an old printout from the internet (couldn’t find the source when I went back to reference it) that had this word, so I drew two lines, 5″ apart, then another guideline 1″ inside the top and bottom and freehanded the letters. I fused them on to the quilt. They are about 5″ tall overall, as that outer border was 6″ scissor-cut.
I sketched out a bud, figured out some leaves. I drew joined leaves, inspired by my love of samaras, or those joined helicopter seeds from maple trees, but also inspired by this photo [PDF of pattern shapes is at the end of this post]. Above, I am trying Sarah Fielke’s method of prepping up shapes for appliqué. It worked fairly well.
I laid out all the parts: leaves, byds (small and large), tubing for stems and more cut stars (on the pattern sheet), trying to decide if I like two leaf sets next to the word Liberty, or one. I’ll appliqué or blanket stitch down everything…then decide. Since I work in small segments of time, and ever so slowly, I might make my goal of July 4th. Here’s the pattern sheet in a PDF document: liberty-usa-quilt-bits Please be sure to set your printer’s settings to 100% so the large star will measure 3-1/4″ where noted. It contains: large flower bud (top and two sides), small flower bud (next to Liberty), joined leaf shape and the large star. You can either shrink this star for the 16 stars in the central star section, or look for a star online that will measure about 1-3/4″ to 2″ across.