Monday, June 27, 2011

Rules - Follow? Break? Discuss...

I've been thinking a lot about rules and quilting and guilds and have been aware of the disdain from traditionalists for "modern quilting."  And I've wondered why anyone would impose their quilting rules on anyone else.  The word "modern" implies to some a haphazard approach of mixing anything together and careless workmanship.  And that is so not true. 

I'm crazy about my Chicago Modern Quilt Guild and what I'm learning from these women. I'm learning I can be as precise - or as wonky - as I want to be.  I'm learning to appreciate different color and design esthetics.  I'm learning I can work large or small.  And I'm still learning when rules need to be followed and when they need to be broken.   I'm learning to take some risks and work outside of my safe zone.  Most of all, I love sharing this passion for quilting with them.  There's a palpable energy at our meetings.

We are currently doing an informal "mug rug" swap, thanks to that cute little Ebony Love.  Fun, eh?  Small little doable projects, June 30 deadline, and I am only making two.  Despite telling myself that this exercise isn't a competition, I did think about the women in the group who often work small - I mean teensy tiny - and those who have an eye for design and those who have a sense of the organic.  And the pressure was on. 

I started with a charm packet and loved what I was doing but not for the mug rugs.  Former CMQG treasurer and current program committee member Sue has a thing for fish, and a couple of these fabrics feature fish, especially the eyes.  And I decided I would create something for her.  Sue has a great sense of whimsy and is a spontaneous quilter.  Knowing I was creating for Sue allowed me to play.  I used one of the pretty stitches on my machine.  I found my couching foot and gimping thread and played with that.  And best of all?  I tried the rat tail binding that I saw demoed in a you tube video  Thank you, Carolann Waugh!  This technique is a keeper.  These squares are 8" x 8". 
Then I moved on to Wayne's beautiful batik scraps and began to play with couching, stippling, and a fusible metallic bias tape.  Check out the rat tail binding - again it worked!  But these look puny.  They are only 5" x 8".  And while I was working I thought about one of my favorite designs - Trip Around the World.  And I spotted my stack of beautiful fabrics with metallics. 

So I cut two 1.25" strips from each fabric and went to work.  This picture above has both the right side and the wrong side.  My piecing, while not perfect, isn't bad.  But here's a great example of a time when a rule is meant to be broken. For the most part I've been ironing all my seams open.  And for the majority of what I do, this change from pressing seams to one side has made better quilts.  BUT not with this pattern.  The success of lining things up depends on wiggle-matching seams.  Next time I do a Trip I'll remember to break the "pressing rule." 
Here are my two finished mug rugs.  They are a bit bigger than I would like (it's always something), but I honored my instincts by not trimming and disturbing the pattern.  Also the rat tail binding wouldn't work for these - too many seams around the edges.  Besides, I had two wonderful already-made bindings from others projects.
My Trip Around the World mug rugs are ready for the mail.  This is an American design made with fabrics that read Asian, and backed with a white that features a metallic map of Africa. 

The best part?  I received a mug rug today from Elaine, who took the time to look at my blog to make me something I would like.  And she used a Trip Around the World design.  Thoughtful - perfect - modern.

I love my quilt guild girls and that I'm learning new things about rules.



Carol G said...

Thought provoking post. Glad you are enjoying your adventures "out of the box!"

Unknown said...

Hi Donna,
I really love your blog. I am glad I found it. I am enjoying spending time looking at all of your posts. I will be here awhile.

Unknown said...

I forgot to add, it is very nice meeting another left handed quilter, and the script was fun copying to my blog, and leading me to the left handed blog.

Emily said...

Such a great and thought provoking post! I come from the other side of the quilting world where all of these rule-breaking freedoms have been there from the start. I guess I must have been watching my grandma and my aunt since I tend to do a lot of things by the book anyhow. I'm having the opposite problem though. I'm having trouble doing things big. lol. Imagine how many full quilts I could finish if my blocks were 12" rather than 2"!