Tuesday, 17 July 2012

An unexpected Liberty print cushion


My English paper pieced stars and hexagons have finally been made into something. Smaller and more humble than the fragile, but sizeable, quilt I'd been hoping for. After creating the middle panel of stars and hexagons, I'd intended to create several borders in hexagons, but somehow I couldn't get my colours and the visual symmetry I wanted to work for me...at which point my husband said he felt there were several things wrong with what I'd already created anyway, and that maybe I should consider starting again. Mmm. It's really, really difficult having your work criticised when you've already spent so much time on it. Even though I always want him to tell the truth about things, sometimes it's not what I want to hear. But basically, he felt that if I was going to bother with the stars I needed to have made them stand out more. He said he had trouble even identifying them as a shape and that it looked more like a blur of very lovely fabric.


I think in some ways this was the look I was going for. I find quilts with a lot of solid white bordering shapes often feel too modern for my own home (even though they look stunning). However, then he started pulling out my quilting books and showing me how I could achieve this kind of definition without using stark fabrics. And he was right. I agreed and appreciated everything he said and I know I will make a better quilt for listening to his advice. But I also felt a little deflated.


So I squared up what I had, quilted it with swirls and loops of free-motion stitches and made a wide border with mitred corners from a beautiful rose print that I'd bought from Aneela recently. And I fell in love with it all over again because the roses set off my stars and hexagons so perfectly. And then I made an error. At 6am on Sunday morning I was blearily listening to my children reading comic books to me as I installed the concealed zip. They were being very funny and amusing and I needed to make a calculation about where to install the zip and it seemed easier just to slice some of the edges off the rose border, than to do the sums while trying to talk to them. So I sliced. I don't know what possessed me not to think through the visual implications, but suddenly my rose border was half the width on all sides and instead of a luxurious frame it looked a rather mean, weedy border to the cushion.


At some point, when I've sourced some more of the rose fabric, I will take the cushion apart and re-do the border, but for now I feel too exhausted by it to do anything else. But my daughter, who was the recipient of the cushion is delighted with it and it sets off the cat nicely, who looks especially adorable when photographed on a Liberty print background. Please forgive me for posting far too many photos displaying the delectable tabbyness of her.




In this last photo she is gazing up at my daughter who was calling to her from above. She is a funny, easily startled cat whose levels of nervousness around people have barely dissipated since we brought her home from the rescue centre. However, my daughter can turn cartwheels right next to her, sing at the top of the voice and still the cat just gazes fondly at her without a hint of the frightened creature who will sometimes dart under a piece of furniture if you clear your throat unexpectedly.


Happily, after a few days to think things over, I've decided on both the fabrics and a pattern (yes, I will be using a pattern, which I rarely do, but I think it will be good for me) for my next English paper piecing project. Not having something to piece by hand and throw into my bag when we go to to the park over the summer holidays had been making me feel a bit stressed, so to have these things in place in my mind is a good thing indeed. I'll let you know more about the pattern and fabric in another post.

Florence x

41 comments:

  1. I love how honest you were here and how honest your husband is with you. Mine is the same way...he is my worst/best critic. He points out the slightest mismatch of seams, etc. and it IS hard to take, you are right. But I also know it helps! A lovely blur of fabrics isn't half bad though. It's soft and pretty.

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    1. So that's why your work is always so perfect! My husband has yet to venture into seam mismatches...but it probably won't be too long! But you're right - it's ultimately a good thing and nice to have people by our sides who think enough of what we do to think it's worth striving to make it better.

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  2. I found your blog a few days ago and as a complete novice at this English paper malarkey,(any type of patchwork and quilting actually) I find it very inspiring indeed!
    I am having a go at it at the moment but am already gathering up stuff for the next more ambitious one and read your tutorial very slowly and carefully yesterday! I might drag my sewing machine into service yet.
    I love your cushion and if it was mine I'd probably do a lap of honour with it, kiss it and then not let it out of my sight for a few weeks.
    Thanks for an inspiring blog!

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    1. Hurrah for all your new adventures and thank you so much for your kindness about my cushion. I can let it out of my sight, because the tabby cat is minding it for me - she's barely been away from it since it was placed on my daughter's bed!

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  3. It makes a gorgeous, gorgeous cushion. But I think not turning it into a quilt was the right decision. I'm so looking forward to seeing what you do next - I am (andI'm sure I mention this every time you show pictures of this paper piecing) working up to cutting into my personal Liberty stash for the Ultimate Liberty Quilt that showcases every Liberty fabric I have ever had. And I have NO IDEA what pattern to use.

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    1. I think if I was going to make this again using so many fabrics I'd go for a more kaleidoscopic effect with more obvious repeats - I suppose this could work in a similar way for yours too - no idea of a pattern though! Good luck - I can't wait to see it. x

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  4. Oh, we had a nervous little black cat who rescued herself and came to live with us when I was still in primary school. She stayed very jumpy too, except for around me and my sister - she got so trusting of us that she couldn't believe we'd ever step or sit on her and didn't seem to have any idea that it might happen accidentally! Your tabby is a beauty and she does look just perfect with the cushion, which is also lovely. Those in-house critics can be a real pain, can't they?! Most of all when one has to admit they're slightly right...

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    1. Yes, when they're slightly right they can become (very unfairly) momentarily dislikable!

      You're right about the thing about having no idea that she could be accidentally hurt - I think it's lovely though - I imagine that the cats can see people's aura's (I don't actually believe in an aura as an official thing, so I use this term loosely and without the presence of crystals) and establish a basis of trust in that way...I'm unsure what this says about me and my husband, but feel pleased for you and my daughter that cats see goodness in you! x

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  5. The cushion looks amazing! I love the cat pictures, she is so gorgeous!

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    1. She is, isn't she. I find it hard not to take photos of her everytime she's lying next to it...actually, I obviously find it very hard indeed as I may be guilty of taking photos of her on a daily basis.

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  6. Oh, it's gorgeous! Sometimes we have to step back from what we made and see it for what it is. Though this didn't become what you wanted it to be, it is beautiful in the form that it is! And yes, it does set off the cat nicely, who looks exactly like my Sally :)

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    1. Sally's a cut name for a cat - I like proper person names for animals. Thank you for the cushion love too, Christine. x

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  7. It is very beautiful, the prints flow like a water colour with all those florals. It would be rather nice if there were some solid or mixer Liberty Lawns to showcase intricate shapes and prints too. The quilting creates a lovely texture- it may have been experimental but I think you can judge it a success

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    1. You're right and I've even pinpointed the print that I should have used to do this - next time! I love the idea of it being like a watercolour though...that's a positive take on it - thank you! x

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  8. your cushion is lovely and so is the kitty! xxx

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  9. It is lovely, and I'm sorry about the mean and weedy border. I often cut prematurely myself, being an impatient sort.

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    1. Thank you - it's hard living with your own impatience, isn't it - sometimes I'd quite like to run away from myself!

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  10. Its a beautiful cushion, sat with teddy in the sunshine. Don't be down cast.

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    1. A week on and I'm feeling better about it...oddly it's largely still because of the cat though - she continues to look pretty against it and seems to choose to kindly sleep only in front of it and no where else!

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  11. I think sometimes we can't see the wood for the trees - your cushion is beautiful and maybe you are being too hard on yourself .. Bee x

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  12. I think the cushion is gorgeous! The cat is also very lovely :)

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  13. I understand how it feels when a project doesn't turn out as you had hoped it would. But the cushion is lovely, and your sweet cat looks so happy next to it. (I don't think you can have too many cat pictures.) Thanks very much for all your inspiring posts.--Sheryl

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Sheryl. x

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  14. I really like this cushion! I love that you were able to go a different direction when this wasn't shaping up the way you wanted it to. And I'm glad that you and your husband are able to be so honest with each other. That's really not easy to do!

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    1. Thank you - I'm equally frank about his work too...although he says that pressing the backspace key takes less time than using a quick-unpick so he seems less prone to looking like he's about to cry when critised!

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  15. That's truly the most beautiful cushion I think I have ever seen. It's like a miniature work of art. I do believe that if you'd continued on a big scale to make it as a quilt, it might have lost that little bit of magic... the visual "gasp" it provokes as the eye alights on something wonderfully gorgeous. It's so rich and diverse, only a little is needed to make the impact. Something to treasure forever, and you've paved the way for the future quilt's improvements as well. A triumph all round, I'd say!

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    1. What a really lovely comment - thank you so much. x

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  16. I adore your cushion.

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  17. It was meant to be - that pillow is stunning!

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  18. I love it! I like the way the stars aren't apparent but then you look again and they are suddenly there. I think there's enough border too. Gorgeous cat - goes perfectly with it!

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    1. I enjoyed how they didn't jump out as I was making it. I remember when I was small picking out patterns in my bedroom wallpaper and enjoying that I'd imagined my daughter doingn the same with this in quilt form...but actually as a thing seen enmasse rather than sleepy eyes it probably wouldn't have worked.

      Thank you for your lovely comment. x

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  19. I think your cushion has a sort of higgledy piggledy homespun look which I love.

    Just a thought, but have you tried photocopying your fabrics when planning a quilt. The reduction to grey scale makes it easy to see which fabrics will show most and least contrast when placed side by side.

    Looking forward to seeing what the next project is.

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    1. What a super suggestion - thank you so much, Annie!

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  20. i like very much cushions specially the cats one :)

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  21. It's a lovely cushion, but I too think you were right to leave it at that. There's nothing worse than investing hours and hours on something that doesn't seem right when it's finished ( I think it's called quit while you're ahead!) I know if it was me it would never have got finished, but be languishing away guiltily somewhere hidden waiting for me to come back to it! And I know what you mean about criticism, I ask my husband what he thinks about something I'm making but then sulk for ages if he doesn't say what I want him too. So why ask then, he says. Why indeed.

    The idea about photocopying fabric is brilliant. You can also buy something called a 'ruby beholder' which is basically a red thing to look through which highlights the differences between colours. ( and caused great amusement as my son is a Pokemon addict and it sounds like something straight from there)

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x