Sunday, 3 August 2014

Sew? So What?

So. I sew. It’s who I am. Thus, before I write more about my summer flowers wall hanging, I have a little rant to get off my chest. Just skip to the next paragraph if you don’t like reading rants. What happened was, I went to the hairdresser to get my hair cut, and we started chatting about camping. I told her I’d brought my sewing machine to the campsite. She started laughing. “I’ve never heard about anyone bringing a sewing machine to their campsite,” implying that I was a bit strange. Well, I’ll admit to being a bit strange,, but not when it comes to sewing at a picnic table. If you are a cycling enthusiast, you’d bring along your bike on a camping trip; if you were a reader, you’d bring lots of books; fishing fanatics wouldn’t forget their rods, and I’ve seen lots of campsites decorated with pots of flowers, which presumably were carted from home by gardening afficionados. So I take along my sewing machine and a nice stash of fabrics. Doesn’t that make sense? It does to me. And if you had a view like this from your sewing table, you might, also. So there. End of rant. (She’s a great hairdresser, and I don’t want to jeopardize this relationship, so you are getting the brunt of my feelings. Thanks for listening.)

Last blog, I wrote that I’d share progress on my Flowers of my Summer Garden piece. This post is more how-to than woo-woo – but who knows, there may be some deep metaphysical lesson embedded in here somewhere by the time I get done!

In my second blog about this subject, I’d suggested that my coreopsis wasn’t laying flat, and I needed to do it over. In the meantime, the sunflowers began blooming in our garden. I couldn’t resist, so I made a new square featuring the sunflower instead. I cut a sunflower head from its stalk and looked at it very carefully. Did you know that at the center of the sunflower head, there are hundreds of tiny, tiny flowers; the big yellow petals that we consider the flower are actually only decorative bracts.
There were over 50 bracts on one smallish head. Although I don’t  want to create a replica of a sunflower, it is important for an artist to get a sense of the subject, to look at its essence. I am more in awe than ever of the amazing complexity and beauty of creation when I look more closely at my subject, and I think that comes through in the final result.

I chose a green background, then began by laying out a circle that would represent the flower’s centre. I picked out three or four of my brightest gold fabrics, and cut out dozens of petals freehand.  Then, I began sewing, adding petals one at a time. I stitched them down with my free=motion foot, trying to make sure that this time the flower would lay flat. When I’d finished circling the head, I added more and more until it looked right to me.
Now it was time to create the centre, the real flower. I saw green, brown, gold, yellow and even black. To make my centre,  I used a technique taught by teacher extraordinaire Lorraine Roy, the “snippet technique”. Tree foliage and backgrounds are created when she cuts up fabric and other fibres into tiny confetti-like pieces, then blends the colours to get the effect she wants. Check out her website at

I laid out yellow fabric bits and yarns and went to town with my rotary cutter. Later, I added some greens and browns and sprinkled them throughout. It’s like mixing paints – so cool!

I arranged the snippets at the centre of the flower, then covered it with a fine-meshed tulle and stitched it down with my free-motion foot. Voila! A sunflower. Not as beautiful and vibrant as the Creator’s version, but then, I’m not The Creator –I am a creator, tapping into the vast well of Creativity with gratitude for such a fine gift.

Now it is time to make a decision. How do I create a wall-hanging with my four finished flowers? Well, yes, I have a wonderful stash of possible fabrics, but of course, being the fabric collector that I am, I had to see if there was something out there that was not just good enough, but closer to perfect. It had to be something that captured the riot of colour in our garden, yet didn’t overwhelm the piece. The polka-dots called out to me, and I said, “Yes!”

I still have some work to do on this: framing it, quilting it, binding it. Each one of those steps will take time. Because the kids and grandkids are coming to visit for a week, it will take longer than usual, I’m thinking. But that is part of the balance of life.

As I write this, it is BC Day weekend. We live in a beautiful province, and we have much to celebrate. Yes, I sew when I am camping, but there is also time to visit with the children and with friends, to sit and enjoy the world at the water’s edge. Wherever you are, I hope you, too, are able to take time to enjoy ...
Of course, the resident sweetie has to make an appearance somewhere in this blog. Here he is, checking out what there is to see at the water's edge.

No comments:

Post a Comment