It all started four days ago, when I decided to reread old issues of Quilting Arts magazine for fun. I came across an article by Ann Brauer in the December 2012/January 2013 issue. Ann's quilts are museum pieces and I've long admired them. One type, which she sells on her Etsy site, involves long, thin strips. Check out, for example, one of her beautiful bags, here.
The QA article explains how she does it. I was astonished to read that her strips are crazy-thin! They're cut at 3/4" and finish at 1/4"! I only make strips that skinny by accident! Plus she sews with utter precision and consistency. Each quarter-inch is dead-straight.
It sounded like the perfect New Year's activity. If I can't be vanishingly thin, at least my strips can be! So I threw a party, in this sense:
Rose Parade float got stuck in my head.)
The QA article includes Ann's step-by-step directions and tips, which are not mine to divulge. In a nutshell, it involves stitching the strips directly onto a batting and backing. Here's the extent of my precision.
Ha! I wasn't even drinking. This is how I always sew when I'm trying to go straight.
Now you know why I can't be permitted to make garments.
I deeply regret the orange. Let's pretend I was drinking alcohol-positive eggnog. I wish.
(For Ann's complete how-to, a link to buy the QA issue is at the bottom of this post.)
Ann's technique is an excellent way to start on New Year's fitness resolutions. Every strip, or every two strips at most, you MUST run (because you're so eager to see how it looks) from the sewing machine to the ironing board, and back. That means you'll be standing up and sitting down, and zipping back and forth, getting almost as much exercise as dangerously young Star Wars actors.
My rainbow bacon slab is made from solids, and measures 31" x 6". It has 27 strips, i.e. approximately 14 round trips between the iron and the sewing machine.
The same piece also works as a basket (need a base),
or a double basket:
Next, the piece I made mostly from batiks:
It measures 18" x 9" and includes 37 strips packed into those 9"!
What photos can't convey is how wonderfully bumpy-textural and hefty these pieces feel, much more than a regular quilt. I think it's because they're 5 layers. There's the back, batting, front, as in a regular quilt; plus there's the seam allowance of the strip you're attaching; the seam allowance of the strip underneath it. Those two seam allowances back everything.
This gives them gravity. Like a dog with a new toy, I have been literally carrying them around the house for two days (but not in my mouth), placing them upright on coffee tables. drizzling them down to the floor like waterfalls, arranging them like screens and sculptures and ocean waves, bending, folding, stroking and petting. I don't want to be separated from them, even for meals.
So what does Ann Brauer do with her pieces? Along with hanging them as art, she also makes them into placemats - no mealtime separation anxiety - as well as pillows - so you can sleep with them - plus purses, cellphone cases, tea cozies, and more.
I also tested the batik piece as a tray....
Or a basket that could conceivably hold this 9" pinecone.
I made another batik strip set that I turned into a little box (3 1/2" on a side).
I do have one tip for stitching a foundation-sewn project like this: Before you add each new strip, cut away all dangling threads from the previous strips, and check the back. These long, thick pieces act like a magnet for all the scraps, lint, threads, and small pets in a three-foot radius of your sewing machine. It picks them up, silently carries them along, without you feeling them because the sandwich is so thick. Then you (well, I) stitch them securely in place to the back. I am not showing you the results, because the whole point of this blog is to pretend that I am a competent quilter. OK, I'll show you.
Yup, I managed to stitch four long rows before detecting that the thread ends from previous rows, plus a massive, foldy scrap, had adhered to reverse side. If I were a surgeon, I would have just lost my license for accidentally stitching my forceps to someone's kidney.
- Learn about Ann's technique by ordering a digital edition ($8 cheap!) of the Quilting Arts issue here. No financial affiliation.
- An article she wrote about how she makes more uneven strips is here.
- From Ann's blog, here's how she joins sections: http://annbrauer.blogspot.com/2016/01/finishing-quilt.html
- More of her stunning pillows and purses: http://annbrauer.blogspot.com/p/small-works.html
- A nice article about Ann and her work is online, here.