In Process: A Lie

I'm currently working on a new art project, another word quilt that I've been thinking about for more than a year. The front is almost pieced together and this is a good opportunity to share the process so far. This doesn't really have a name yet, but for obvious reasons I've just been calling it "the lie"!

I don't use computer technology when designing because I enjoy drawing and sketching out an idea. Usually, my final sketch has most of the design elements worked out, but I know from experience that I'm going to make some decisions and changes during the making process.

I used large pieces of paper to draw the final design with a plan to use the paper as a pattern to sew the letters and borders. Before starting the sewing process I made several little samples with extra paper to make sure my color choices were looking good.

When I select fabrics for a project like this, the colors are what's most important to me. I'm not concerned with the manufacturer, brand, fabric line, designer, or even the fabric content. This piece contains a cotton/poly blend repurposed sheet, cotton fabrics from various manufacturers, and a cotton/poly blend broadcloth.

I chose to sew on the old Singer 101-4 because this machine sews really nice even stitches in a smooth, slow-and-steady way. I have a few old machines and I like to use them when I can!

I started sewing the letters first. I know it doesn't read well in the photos, but the background fabric is a soft gray pattern with random white stars. And the letters themselves are red and blue - which makes the main color scheme for the piece red, white, and blue.

Paper piecing the large letters definitely helped me get crisp lines with the design, but I'd probably approach the sewing process a little differently next time. My method was pretty intuitive (that's a nice way of saying all-over-the-freaking-place), just attacking each section in whichever way made sense at the time. So some areas have a lot of piecing going on where it could have been paired down a bit.

But overall I'm happy with how the lettering looks. My goal was to have the word be easy to see from across the room, basically grabbing your attention, maybe a little like a slap in the face. I think mission accomplished there, it really hits hard when you see it in person.

The lettering felt like it went together pretty quickly, but the border seemed to take days and days and days. The repetition of piecing the exact same square almost 40 times got to me. I took lots of breaks, sometimes days-long breaks (I really hate making the exact same thing over and over again!). And then, when the border finish was finally in sight, I ran out of that light green fabric!

But yeah, I did buy more of the green, it's a rather gross color of inexpensive broadcloth and luckily no one else in the greater Chicagoland area wants to use it for anything. I chose these three specific hues of green because they are all found on a one-dollar bill, and contrasts nicely with the red letters with the magenta border.

I stitched the side borders on today, and with all the paper in the piece, it feels a little unruly. I want to leave the paper in until I'm ready to baste because it will help keep the piece flat and wrinkles to a minimum.

The last step in finishing the front is creating the corner pieces, but I want to make sure I am 100% committed to the corner design before I start sewing them together. I made a handful of different corner designs, and so far this is the one I like the best. This corner feels almost like a period, a big "full stop" that punctuates the word and stabilizes the on-point diamonds that create so much movement in the borders. I'll be sleeping on it to see if I still like it in the morning!

I haven't given the back much thought but already have a good idea of how to approach the quilting. And so far this piece is meeting my expectations (that means I don't hate it, which happens sometimes when I start making something), so I'm excited to see it through to the finish line.


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