Tag Archives: the process

Elemental Quilt

I often take my workbag out and about with me, so that I can work on personal pieces during the ‘in-between’ times – waiting for children whilst they do their various out-of-school activities, train journeys, and so on. It always surprises me how many people will come up to me to have a look at what I’m doing and to have a chat about it … but what surprises me most is that the comment I’ll get from almost everyone is ‘it must be so therapeutic’.

Sewing as therapy?

I’d never really thought of it in those terms … it’s just something I love doing. But I’ve been reflecting a little bit on those comments this week, because it’s been a tough one. It started on Monday, when a regular visit to the dentist turned into an injection+filling nightmare that left me numb, sore and semi-conscious on the sofa for most of the afternoon, and got followed up with the start of a heavy cold (or possibly intense hay-fever) during the early hours of Tuesday morning. Between a thick head and exhaustion (sleeping is hard when you can’t breathe), I’ve not had much energy for anything, and have felt myself retreating firmly into my comfort zone.

Which has mostly involved picking up again on the Elemental Quilt, and starting to lay down some of the embroidery for the four corners – the four elements – in the kufic script I wanted.

And as I’ve been going along, it’s struck me that sewing is kind of therapeutic – in that, for me, it’s a refuge when things get tough. It’s where I go to get away from it all – a mini retreat, if you like. There are a lot of different pieces I want to do banging on the inside of my head wanting to get out, but when I’m actually working on something, all that disappears. So does the day-to-day to-do list, and all the other concerns and aggravations and worries that, individually, aren’t a big deal, but, taken together, threaten to become overwhelming.

Nothing matters but this stitch. And when it’s set, nothing matters but the next stitch. And on, and on, and on, until the piece starts to come together under my hands, and I can see the traces of my thoughts in the work I’m leaving behind. It doesn’t matter how long this is going to take to finish, because getting it right matters more. It doesn’t matter what else is happening, because this is what I’m doing NOW. When I’m sewing it’s just about the only time I’m fully in the present, in the moment, and not with half a mind on what-else-must-I-do – the process absorbs me.

It’s funny where the process leads you. Arlee Barr posted a fabulous tutorial on her blog, some time ago now, covering raised stem-bands (or raised buttonhole stitch), and I said at the time I’d seen a similar stitch, but with chain stitch, and that I wanted to use it …. and so when I was looking at translating the script into stitch, and knowing that I needed to use a surface stitch to show up on that blond chenille I auditioned several different stitches, but it was the raised chain stitch that won – the texture is just perfect both against the chenille, and for the character of the quilt overall.

Here we are with the ‘scaffolding’ in place to anchor the stitches – a fairly widely-placed row of buttonhole stitch, running in both directions to turn the corner.

And a finished section of the script.

It is a slow process, setting down that level and size of stitch across such a relatively large area, but speed is unimportant. The quilt is all that matters, and it will take its own time to finish.

Grandmothers Flower Garden … part 2

So, with the piecing all finished and the basting removed, I’m pretty happy with my little hexagon block 🙂

now for some quilting …. a nice thick sandwich of wadding, and the cream fabric I’ve used in the block as the backing, and it’s onto the machine.

I don’t often machine quilt, but for these blocks it seems a practical and natural way to go about it. I use safety pins to hold the layers together – much less likely to slip out, and much less likely to prong myself mid-stitching. I’ve kept the quilting simple again, just running around the outline of the rosette rings … using crimson thread, just for a flash of contrast colour in those neutral creams and golds and coppers …

but with a cream thread on the bobbin …. for those that like seeing what lies beneath 🙂

and there’s the back of the finished  cushion … binding is done in a cream satin ribbon, and the backing is a double layer of the cream fabric I used in the block … I like to double up the fabric, partly because it takes a buttonhole much, much better on a double layer of fabric, and partly because I like the insides of my cushions to look as nice as the outside, so they’re lined.

And because this one ended up being sold before it was even finished (funny how serendipity works that way sometimes), I customised it with a little hand embroidery on the front ….

modern country cushion - hexagon patchwork

It looks so lovely and plump with its inner cushion pad inserted! Happy birthday Ann – I hope you enjoy this cushion as much as I enjoyed making it.

And …. if you want a cushion like this, then check what’s in stock over at my Etsy shop or for a bespoke cushion, please do get in touch