There was a request yesterday to share the process of this technique, so here goes…
I love this method because of the way it combines layering and piecing, raw edge and turned edge. To me it is like the gathering of memories: piecing experiences together, engaging many layers of senses and emotions that might be a little ragged around the edges. A blurring of boundaries between times.
This little cloth is a simple four-patch, but you can do the same technique with any number of squares or rectangles. This is the same method I used on the large Friendship Cloth, which consists of twenty-five 10″ squares.
Prepare the backing fabric: mine is a sea-green medium weight woven cotton (furnishing fabric, originally I think for curtains), about 10″ square. You will need squares of lightweight fabric to use as foundations on which to layer fabric. I used four 5″ squares of lightweight shirting cotton.
Gather together a selection of fabrics to use as the layers. My theme in this cloth is sea and sand. I like to use a mixture of cotton and silk fabrics together; I like the contrast in textures.
Cut or tear small pieces of fabric and place them on top of the foundation squares until the whole square is covered, making sure that each fabric overlaps by at least 1/4″.
Pin fabrics to foundation when each square is fully covered.
Tack (baste) all layered fabrics to foundation square and remove the pins. I like to press it with the iron at this stage (from the back) to make sure the tacking stitches are loose enough for the fabrics to lie flat.
When all the layered fabrics are tacked to the foundation squares, flip the foundation square over and trim excess fabric flush with the edge of the square.
Arrange the trimmed squares as you wish. You get a surprising variation in effect just by moving them round and rotating them.
Sew top two squares together, right sides facing, matching edges and corners and with 1/4″ seam allowance. Repeat for the other two squares.
I like to press seam allowances open rather than pressing them to one side, as is usual in quilting these days. I don’t like the ridge that builds up from having all the seams on one side.
You should now have two sets of two squares with seams pressed open. Sew these together along the long edge, matching seams, edges and corners and again with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Press seams open.
Layer pieced top to backing; pin and tack in place. I don’t use wadding (batting), but this is the point at which to insert it if you’re using it.
Gather together a selection of threads for quilting. I like to use quite fine quilting threads, but I also use silk thread and cotton perle threads here and there for a bit of textural interest.
Quilt through all layers to attach the top to the backing, working outwards from the centre. I don’t use a frame or hoop; I prefer to support the work on a table top and hold it in my hands. This is the reason I don’t do perfect stitches. They are neither evenly spaced, nor are they evenly sized, but I prefer them that way. I think stitching is like handwriting, and is just as expressive and individual. If I wanted perfect, even stitches, I would use a machine.
You can either quilt each square individually, as I have done, or you could treat the whole pieced cloth as one square and quilt a design over all of it. I like the fragmented, pieced-together collage effect of treating each square differently.
This little cloth took just over seven hours in total.
Sea and Sand – complete.