Wednesday, January 13, 2021

A Polar Bear In The Sun

It's been raining on and off, sometimes continuously for over a day, for weeks and as a result, it is extremely cold in Singapore. When I say extremely cold, I mean cold to a person more accustomed to living in 30 deg C kind of temperature. Last night it was around 23 deg C when we went to bed. My daughter wore a hoodie over a T-shirt, lounge pants, SOCKS and covered herself with 2 quilts, one of which is king size and super thick. Hubs wore a long sleeved shirt to bed which is unprecedented. As for me, I'm the one who's most afraid of the cold and since December, I've been going to sleep wearing a sweater and covering myself with a quilt and 1 blanket. I don't wear long pants at home tho' because I like my legs to feel cool. My son is a walking furnace so he doesn't feel cold.

Last week I finished this quilt which I started in 2018. It is a reverse applique of Inuka, a Singapore born polar bear. He was the world's only tropical polar bear and obviously it sounds very wrong. If you're interested, you can read about Inuka here

In the beginning, I wanted to keep the quilt minimalist. I started with the fur of the bear. I didn't want the embroidery to stand out so I used white sashiko thread. I would have preferred the thread to be as close to the colour of the calico as possible but white is all I have. The effect I was going for was texture, texture and more texture. I used nearly the same embroidery stitches as the ones employed for my cat quilt. During the period I was embroidering the body of the bear, I just had issues with my aging left eye - floaters, blurriness and I wanted to take my mind off my stupid dem eye. It worked!

This kind of freestyle embroidery is just right for less than perfect eyesight because you don't need any patterns, just stitch and fill up the spaces. How do I decide which stitch to use? Well, what I do is I sew the big motifs first and place them scattered around. Then I work on the vine, running, etc stitches to fill up the empty spaces. When I can't think of an appropriate stitch, I just use running stitches. You could say it's my go-to stitch.

I avoided putting anything in the blue sky because remember, minimalist? So just running stitches using sashiko thread. Well, just so you know, I had considered hanging a banner of fishes across the sky. 

I don't know what happened but one day I thought it was weird the bear was lying on a dark blue fabric. I wanted to depict ice. Next thing I knew, I was going through my sequins stash (everyone has one, right?) and found the perfect sequin. I had no choice but to try out a few sequins just to see. I anchored the sequin down with a small white matte bead. It was smaller than what I had in mind but I couldn't allow myself to run down to Chinatown to buy more beads. So I made do. I sewed the sequins between end of last year and the first 2 days of 2021. So while folks were ringing in the new year, there I was sewing sequin, bead, knot, sequin, bead, knot. Around 30ish sequins in, I massively regretted the idea of sparkling ice but it was too late to back out because I did not want to do any unpicking. So I soldiered on, sequin, bead, knot... Grr. Why do my "brilliant" ideas often end up very tedious to implement? 

I added the sun because I wanted to call the quilt "A Polar Bear In The Sun" and also, Janet Bolton. I did exercise great restraint and did not add in any sun rays.

There were a number of issues with the quilt, partly because I had no idea what 2018 Jane was thinking but some parts of the quilt were single layer and the rest double layer. The polar bear was on a single layer of calico and while I was embroidering, I neglected to put another layer of fabric to stabilize it.  As a result, there was a bit of puckering. I semi solved it by sewing tiny running stitches on the puckered fabric. Another issue is using calico as the layer underneath is not a good idea for a larger quilt as there's a lot of puckering in the sky so it looks untidy. 

For the backing, I used a gingham fabric I had bought to sew binding on one of my daughter's blouse and I have so much of it left. For the binding, I used some scrap my mother had given me ages ago. I don't know where my mother gets her scraps but her fabric is always tightly woven and quite hard to sew through. 

Overall, I'm happy with this quilt. I wanted a quilt that says texture and this quilt pretty much screams TEXTURE. I've managed to keep it simple despite the sequins. I enjoy looking at this quilt a lot even though it's soooo hard to photograph. And it's such a great feeling to finally finish this quilt. My first finished item in 2021!


Jane McLellan said...

Love your quilt, especially the texture of the polar bear!

Kate said...

Your sequin story reminds me of adding beads to knitting. Once you start, you have to continue.

The result is wonderful. I hope you are very proud of it.

Projects By Jane said...

Hi Jane, the quilt looks much better in person, especially the texture.

Barwitzki said...

Hello, I found you ...and so I can see your wonderful work.
Great. So beautiful, I'm thrilled. The topic and the implementation are fantastic. Yeah, I like your polar bear in the sun too.
Greetings to you and have a wonderful 2021. Best regards fra Viola

Chris H said...

I love your polar bear! AS for being cold.. 23 degrees is WARM here! lol Having been to Singapore years ago though, I do understand how you would find it cooler.

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