Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Have you ever hated a fabric so much?

Dear friends,

I want to ask you a question. Have you ever hated a piece of fabric so much you lie in bed, night after night thinking up ways to kill it? Like wait till it's asleep and use a pillow to slowly snuff the life out of it? Have you hated the way the fabric smells and looks, the wrinkles on the face cloth, the smug looks it gives you, practically everything about the fabric irritates you. And of course how the fabric keeps forgetting to put the dirty dishes in the sink. I mean, just FOUR more steps and you reach the sink. Umm, where was I? Yes, the fabric I hate so much...

A long time ago, I was very into linen cotton fabric. I would buy them mostly for embroidery which I incorporate in my pouches which I used to sell at craft markets. One day I was at Chinatown looking for a solid colour linen cotton but I couldn't find any. Most times I would walk away but on that regretful day, I allowed myself to be talked into buying this butt ugly fabric. What was I thinking? Witchcraft must have been involved! Yes, it had the nice colour of linen which I love but look what's splattered all over it. Duck shit! Bits and pieces and chunks and chunks of duck shit. Try as I did, I couldn't use the fabric for a pouch or a bag. I did use small pieces of it for godknowswhat but anyway I had around 3/4 yard of it left and it sat on my sewing table for years. Every year I kept telling myself I must get rid of it once and for all. I have to use it somehow. But nothing. At the beginning of this year I washed it and it stayed hung in the laundry room for a few months. Finally 2 weeks ago, I washed the fabric because I decided the best way to kill the fabric was to use other fabric to hide it. So yes, I was going to make a quilt out of it.

I wanted the quilt to be portrait style so I needed to cut the fabric because some of it had been cut out and the shape was irregular. So the bottom was made up of 2 pieces joined together. But the important thing is I used every bit of the fabric.

I chose to use a simple cat applique (this one) because I wanted to use a needle turn applique technique instead of my usual raw stitch technique. I didn't sit down to plan this quilt as I was lazy. Instead I decided to make it as I go. I started with the big blue cat on top. Next I added the two cats at the bottom. I thought the cats looked too serious so I added the two floating cats on top and finally the tails drove me nuts so I added the blue cat in the middle to balance it out. I was quite pleased with the final arrangement of the applique and wouldn't change anything if I had to do it all over again. I eyeballed everything so it's not 100% proportionate. It's okay. I'm not one bit bothered by it. Well, I said I used needle turn applique technique but in reality I used my fingers to turn under. I don't know how people use their needles to do the turning. For me I feel so clumsy. My fingers manage to do a good job. For the really tight corners or angles, I use tweezers.

I think it's obvious I belong to the show-your-stitches camp. It only took me 3 afternoons to complete the applique. I did it while watching k-drama. The only painful part about the applique is I used my new fabric stash which I bought this year. I have so much fabric but I couldn't find anything else that I felt would be able to overwhelm the background fabric. My plan was to go colourful.

I had all these bits and pieces of fabric left after the applique was cut out so I wanted to use them up as borders. I had to pull in a few pieces of other scraps to make up the border. I notice that I tend to use a lot of blues in my quilts.

I found some batting in the storeroom and joined up some of my mother's batik to make up the back. Because the size of the quilt was larger than what I was used to handling I decided to spray bast the layers together. What a chore. There was a lot of squatting and kneeling because I had to do it on the floor. And it was smelly. I wore a mask but I got a headache afterwards.

After all that, I had to quilt the layers together. Guess what? I decided to do it by hand. I used a Sashiko thread and Sashiko needle. Still it didn't go quite as quickly. I wanted the thread to blend in more but the only colour I had that was close enough to linen was this copper colour.

Finally, the binding. My first choice was indigo. But that would mean having to go out to buy it and that would defeat the purpose of this whole exercise which is to use the fabric I already own. Finally I decided the next most pleasing choice would be this bright orange. I had found it in the storeroom, about 1 yard's worth. When I first started sewing bags around 2007, I wasn't as knowledgeable about fabric and I would buy these cheap poly-cotton fabric to practice my sewing. Well, this fabric is what's left from that "era".

The finished quilt is 28" across and 29.5" tall. It's not nearly as large as I imagined but the size was dictated by the fabric I hated. Now that the quilt is complete, I no longer see the background fabric. Instead I see the lovely cats. I think I did a really good job of "killing" the fabric. The one thing I would change is the back. I wished I had used a playful cats or even dogs fabric print but I had to stick to my principles!

I showed the quilt to my kids and both of them said SO CUTE! What do you think?
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