Sunday, February 8, 2015

I Hated It When I Went to Sleep: Weaving Batiks Into Darkness with Cumberbatch

This is one of those 'What-to-make-when-you-can't-think-of-what-to-make' quilts. It will take a long afternoon/evening. You'll need batik fabric scraps, thread, and a campy Star Trek movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

Step 1. Go through your batik scrap stash, which I keep seperate from my main scrap stash, because of my pet theory that all batiks look great together (Except sometimes brown.)

Step 2: Extract random long strips, at least 12 of them. 1-2" wide is good. A few additional short strips are okay, too.
Step 3. At an ironing board or a wider surface, with a non-stick appliqué sheet on top, lay some out straight. Start weaving

Enjoy: Over-and-under is sooooo psychotherapeutic. Go over three if the strip is gorgeous.

  Cut some curvy strips and lay those in among other strips.

When happy with an area, swipe a glue stick or appliqué glue under the top strip at intersections and press dry. (In this picture below, I squeezed 'Quilter's Choice Basting Glue' from the bottle - but dipping a toothpick into the glue and inserting it between layers worked  better.)  Don't do every intersection, just a lot of them.

For the outermost strips, it's easier to use a glue stick.

Now there will be tiny gaps between some strips, so you need a batik background.

Step 4: Lifting carefully, test the woven unit on different batik backgrounds. When you find a background you like, glue the unit down around the edges.  Then put the whole thing on a layer of batting.

Now here's where I went wrong. I decided to cover each strip's raw edges with a satin stitch.

This was Saturday afternoon/evening, with my TV playing 'Star Trek: Into Darkness', in which Benedict Cumberbatch, as the evil yet elegant Khan, acts his nostrils out. Seriously, no actor working today has sinuses as expressive as Cumberbatch's. When he is onscreen, I cannot tear my eyes away from the miracle that is the fluid, flaring epicenter of his face.
(Here's a sketch of BC in a Starfleet uniform that my DD made for me.)
Fortunately, he doesn't have a lot of dialogue, so I got a lot of satin stitching done to the sound of starship explosions and actors thumping around a brewery,

The more I sewed, the more I recalled that I am not a fan of satin-stitch appliqué; I fretted that the thick lines detracted from the soft transitions between batiks.

But, like the Enterprise plowing into (spoiler alert) San Francisco, it was too late to change course.

We all neared the dénoument, Khan was interned in a cryogenic pod. and the hero, Captain Kirk/Chris Pine, a reckless teenage jerk until quite recently, delivered a Malala-esque oration at Starfleet headquarters. That's what being raised from the dead via Cumberbatch platelets did for him! I could have used some Cumberbatch platelets to avoid awkward satin stitching decisions! Instead, I retreated to my pod for the night, feeling defeated.

But to my astonishment, when I emerged Sunday morning, and ambled over to look at the quilt again - I quite liked it!
Of course I'm naming it "Cumberbatch."  If I could beam that satin stitching away without leaving a mess of holes, I would, but since I cannot. I have come to accept it. And you can too. A good night's sleep in the ol' pod changes everything.

Next week: More improvisational batik weavings. They got better, especially when I used a looser zig-zag instead of a satin stitch.

UPDATE: OMG someone actually made a literal Benedict Cumberbatch quilt! No financial affiliation, it's for sale on etsy, here!


  1. You are a very clever and creative girl! Stitch on.

  2. I really like how this turned out. What a clever idea. I even think some of my very traditional quilter friends might give this a try.

    1. Yes, what's not to love? If they have batik scraps, I predict they'll have a great time! Prints are a little iffier! Thanks for stopping by, Beth!

  3. If there's something you want to hide (the satin stitch) ... do more of it - maybe extend it out to the edge of the quilt?

    1. Margaret, your "do more of what you hate" theory is one that I implement a lot! Sometimes it works, sometimes, not so much, LOL!!!! Thanks for the comment!

  4. This would be a great technique for an interesting background. I would have satin-stitched it, too, and regretted it after finishing about half of it. Look forward to seeing your next version!

  5. Gosh, Cathy, I can't ever figure out if I am doing this correctly. Anyway, your batik quilt is delightful. You definitely have fun. Before you mentioned using a looser zig zag stitch, I was going to suggest that. I have found a regular applique satin stitch is very heavy looking.

  6. You did it right, Maggie! I am doing another one is a looser zig zag. I do like it much better! Thanks!

  7. oooh. I likiee! Especially the way some colors bleed into the background. And the little curvy inserts.
    You are so funny with your commentary too!
    LeeAnna at not afraid of color

  8. I particularly enjoyed hearing about your process of stitching the weaving and then changing your mind: it's encouraging to hear. I dig the black-work Cumberbatch! Thank you for sharing.


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