A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Stripping Therapy

I got Rayna's book yesterday afternoon.  I opened it up and it was like she'd been spying on me in my most private moments in my studio.  I've been doing a form of this piecing for a couple of years and using the bits for bags and as backgrounds for art quilts.  I've even been calling it "free-form piecing."  But I never thought of cutting up those old orphan blocks and using them in quilts.  I wanted to run right downstairs and paw through my boxes of scraps and blocks and get stitching.

But, alas, on Fridays I am just exhausted, so I had to content myself with reading the book (yes, I read the whole thing) and going to bed with visions of strips dancing in my head.  I was really taken with her quilt, "Strata," and took a few moments to analyze what I liked best about it so I could create something with that feel in my own manner.

So this morning, after I fed the darling husband and myself, I divorced myself from the rest of the family and boogied downstairs to commune with the scraps.  I got down the two boxes of strips that I had been saving (cleverly labeled "cools" and warms") and ran my fingers through them feeling like Midas with his coins.  Then I got out the laundry basket of scraps and the box stashed under it.  Then I excitedly got out the box of orphan blocks and discovered the finished pieced baby quilt top and another bag of blocks.  Then I sat down on the floor, feeling totally overwhelmed with all this stuff.   How was I ever going to sort through all this stuff?

Okay -- maybe I should just forget this for a while and go to the grocery store.  But then I remembered what Rayna's friend said, "When all else fails, sew strips."  So I pushed the box of orphan blocks, the overflowing laundry basket, and the boxes of "warms" and miscellaneous scraps away from me and picked up the box of "cools" and set it next to the ironing board.  I realized that what I liked best about "Strata" were the cool greys, blues, and greens and the soft golds punctuated with the bits of reds and purples.  The reds and purples are arranged in such a way that they look like structures in an Asian landscape.  Very appealing.

 So I pulled the lighter colors from the box and started stitching them together.  I found a half of a block and some strip-sets from other projects, so I sewed them together too. Then I started pulling the darker colors from the box and sewed those together.  I stopped when my bobbin ran out and the needle needed changing.

This is where it stands.  I'm going to the grocery store now, but I think when I get back, I'm going to get into my stash and pull out the soft golds and greys and start sewing together strips of those.

Who knows, I might even find a use for this ridiculously ugly piece.  I've kept it for years because it is a really nice piece of fabric (good-quality sateen), even though, in a spectacularly bone-headed moment, I stamped on it on the wrong side.    Not that it matters, it's still staggeringly ugly.  I guess I should admit, I don't love all the bits I sewed together today, but none of them compares to the piece above.

Sorry about the verbosity of this post, I usually try to save that for my own personal blog, but there will be only one post from me today and this is it.


  1. I went to my local bookstore yesterday to buy the book only to find it wasn't there - and then went to several more to find it wasn't there either. Apparently, her book is not readily available in Canada. I've ordered it however and hope that it will arrive this week.

    Looking forward to seeing where yours end up - I found a lot of orphan blocks this morning for use!

  2. I had the same reaction to Rayna's book! I read it cover to cover immediately too! Her stripping is what I have been doing and loving for a while but she takes it a couple of steps further than I had gotten on my own. I am now working on a second piece based on techniques in the book. I am really excited about it. Pictures soon.

  3. Karen, therapy sewing!! You never know what will evolve and it's amazing how you just find a direction while you are mindlessly sewing. That butt-ugly purple fabric will be great cut into very thin strips (like 3/4" or less) and used as very skinny accents. Try it. I cannot wait to see what you and judith are working on! This is so exciting!

  4. Karen, I know you will be able to use that last piece with Rayna's methods! I had some really butt-ugly pieces in my stash that, once cut up and connected to other fabrics, amazingly turned from ugly ducklings to swans! I am a firm convert, and look forward to more of your experiments!

  5. ahem, Judy - I want to see before and after pix of these ugly ducklings!!


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