Thursday, March 6, 2014

To bind or not to bind that is the question

I have to decide whether to do a facing or a binding on my windmill quilt. I usually like the look of a binding so have never done a facing. Also the quilts that I see faced often do not have very square corners which is one of the reasons I don’t like that technique.  Also I feel more comfortable doing a binding since that is what I have done and have gotten good at. But the trend these days for art quilts is to do a facing.
If I do decide to face this quilt I think I will use Terry Aske’s directions on her blog. This may be less bulky as well as creating better corners.

What do you think? Here are 2 pictures of the quilt. One without binding and one with 1/4 inch binding. I just cut fabric 1/4 inch wide and laid it down on the quilt to see how that would look.

On Monday I did some more snow dyeing (although it was more like crushed ice dyeing). I used 2 purples (plum and blue violet). I used white fabric on top of a grid and put on the snow and powdered dyes. This time I had a piece of unbleached muslin under the grid to catch the dye drips as the snow melted. Both pieces came out great. Nice patterns. What is interesting is how different they look in terms of the purple color. I see the unbleached muslin piece as a stormy night sky with lightning going on.

I sent my sketches off to Elizabeth Barton for our March lesson on line. We are supposed to remake a quilt that we have already done with the emphasis on lines instead of shapes.

Here is my original quilt that I call “California Dreaming.” It is a very small quilt at only about 10 in by 12 in.

california dreaming
I decided to focus on the trees in the background since they seem to be lines in my mind. These are my 3 sketches of the trees.
Now that I see them posted I am not sure I like these at all. They were fun to do, but I am just not sure.
Here is what EB said about them, “I like all of these ideas - student 9 has been careful to vary both positive and negative space which makes these very interesting - and I love the very narrow dark line that edges the medium value.  I know she's going to say - oh that was just the drawn line!! BUT when we look at the sketches that is what we see and that's what's adding to their beauty - that very very narrow linear element - so don't then go and omit it when you make the quilt!! Because then you'd wonder why the quilt didn't have the elegance of the drawing.  I think all of these work, but probably the first and third are stronger, in that the overall shape of the second one is a little more predictable.  You could increase the four patch to a nine patch too - or do a row of patches changing orientation.  What makes all of them is the negative space variation.  All are so much more painterly and much stronger than the original which is basically a photograph rendered into fabric - nice enough as it is, but nothing special.”

So EB liked the drawings! Why can’t I get the confidence to see what she sees before I send them to her? I liked them to begin with and then I started to doubt them. Maybe I need to go with my first instincts and forget about the doubts? But sometimes something bugs you about a quilt and you do have to change it. When do you know when to go with it and when to change it? I guess that will always be hard for me to answer.

Do you have a lot of confidence in your work or do you still have self doubts? If you are confident were you always that way or did you work through that?

I am linking early to Off the Wall Friday. I will be on the road tomorrow and not able to blog.

Thanks for reading and commenting.



  1. So interesting to see your new snow-dye results. The one in the bottom did very much what one of mine did - I think that patterning is so interesting. I guess I'll have to try again and see if I can get results more like your top one. I still say, picking the right dye colors to use is everything.

    To bind or not to bind? I'm not a big fan of doing facings either, mostly for the reasons you state. But every now and then, I end up with a piece that binding or bordering just is not right for. I think you could go either way on this one (probably not what you wanted to hear) but I think a binding, perhaps a wider one than you are used to adding, might actually be better. All that motion, all that energy - sometimes it's good to contain it so the viewer's eye remains where you want it instead of spiraling off the quilt. BTW, it looks like you did just the right amount of quilting - it would have been easy to do so much as to detract from the strength of the design.

    I'm so happy to find I agree with Elizabeth re your drawings. I think either the 4-patch or the more vertical one would make interesting quilts. Just depends on how abstract you wish to be. I hadn't really noticed the dark lines until she mentioned them, but then realized it was one of the reasons I thought these sketches good and interesting. I learned about the importance of adding a narrow black line around applique from Suzanne Marshall (although I often forget to use that trick). It can be inked in, embroidered in (as she does with a stem stitch) or machine stitched in. Such a simple trick but a big impact.

    I don't necessarily agree with what she said about your original quilt though. I don't think these drawings based on it are stronger or that it is "basically a photograph rendered into fabric...nothing special." So don't agree.

    Safe travels...

  2. I think a lot of the power disappears in the wind generator piece with the binding.

    I finally sent my drawings, but will have to wait for EB's comments. I always seem to send right after she has gotten 5. I like the way you played with a small segment of the original--were you working to get the star in the first one?

  3. I was not aiming for a star on the first one and for some reason that bothers me. I think if and when I do this one I will make more than a 4 patch.

    Funny I like the look of the binding better!

  4. I would go for the facing. If you mark and pin this carefully, the corners can be straight.

  5. I am always filled with self doubts which is why I hate doing commissions. I'm better making a piece, if you like I good, if not that's ok too. I always agonize over the client liking it.

    I too am not a fan of facing and haven't had good luck either but I must say I do like windmills with the facing.

    And lastly your hand dyes are AMAZING! You could just hang that on my wall and I'd be happy.

  6. I've been doing pillow-case backs lately and I love those and get very good corners. If I was going to put a binding on your quilt, I would put a dark binding on it to match the windmills.

  7. I like the binding, the purple is just the right shade, I tend to go darker to contain, and end the edge, but this works great, but I also might do a partial purple, then yellow binding at the top, this would blend better and disappear. Also don't forget you could use couching lines, when you work on your sketch. I really like the hand dyes on your windmills, very dramatic!

  8. you and EB have given me a lot to think about with line. Maybe I should take her class. What she said about the drawn line being intriguing, more than a realistic quilt, is use-able info for all of us making representational work. LeeAnna Paylor

  9. Hi Chris! I love your work and your blog. I found you via Off the Wall Friday with Nina-Marie. I am thinking about joining. I've been taking Elizabeth Barton's Inspired to Design on line class. AND - I always struggle with confidence! I identify with your comments and wonder why we struggle so. I realize I need connection with other artists and I so appreciate groups like Off the Wall!! Please check out my blog too. Hoping you will chose to be my follower too. best to you and all the group for following our instincts and going for it!! deborah

  10. Okay - here's my take - since you asked (grin) I usually don't ask for critiques from people since I feel like I'm the best critic. I usually know what's wrong with a piece but don't always know how to fix it! That said, I take EB classes because I trust her opinion implicitly plus after 6 classes I know what she likes and what she doesn't like in most cases. (That doesn't mean I always agree with her - but at least I know where she's coming from). Plus her critiques are well thought out and have a good reason behind them!

    I would highly suggest for now when critiquing your own work - go with your gut. As you learn the design principals (I call them the design rules in my peabrain head - LOL) - you can judge more objectively - but for now your gut will guide you.

    It seems that once you start thinking too long on it - you start to worry what people are going to say - so try not to fall into that trap. Just decide what you think and go from there. I mean geesh - our passion is to take perfectly good fabric - cut it all up and spend a ton of money and time to sew it back together again. That's crazy enough to most people - LOL!!

    BTW - I never bind unless the piece really really needs that extra line on the edge (most don't) and if you asked - I think the 1st is the strongest - lovvvvveee it!

  11. Great dying. I'm in awe of the drawings. I guess i don't think I could draw anything! I have to say I like the idea of a facing on your windmill quilt. Perhaps by now you've already finished it. I haven't dye any fabric for years but haven't used much of it either. But noticed when ironing some the other day it's still bleeding. Bummer.

  12. Bonnie, I set all my hand-dyes and a lot of the commercial batiks I buy with Retayne. I've never had a fabric bleed once I've used Retayne on it.


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