Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fabulous Fabric - Finally

The long awaited parcel from the US arrived this week. Seldom have I been so pleased to receive a text message from my daughter while at work! It was the cause of much celebration and swept me into almost immediate activity. Luckily for me I had the next day off so I spent most of it in the sewing room.

First up I had to finish off the Frida Khalo blocks. Having made 20 I decided that it really did need to be a bit longer so another 5 were made. For a change I had the perfect amount of fabric to cut the feature blocks - it could not have been a single block larger. It was clearly my time for something to go my way.
Having completed that and taken a quick photo, they have now all been taken off the wall and will now wait until sometime in the new year. They still all need to have borders put onto them I think. Time will tell.

By way of comparison, one of my friends has used the same block for a quilt for her granddaughter. Marilyn's version is just about as different from mine as you can imagine - pale and soft with the most wonderful dogs and cats featuring in the blocks. It's hard to imagine it not being adored.

So with Frida tidied away I turned back to the medallion quilt and am delighted to have the top finished without too many further incidents. I did have a heart stopping moment when I thought I had cut the precious border fabric too short but I'm pleased to report it fitted perfectly, once I had removed an errant extra row of checkerboard which had somehow found its way onto one side. How I managed that I will never know - but as I said this quilt has certainly presented me with some challenges.

And I know they are far from over yet - I have one month to get this quilted before the big birthday. It's only 85 inches or 2.2meters square and there's only the small matter of Christmas and a beach holiday standing in between me and its completion....

Oh yes - ever quilt certainly has its challenges!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fun with Frida Khalo

It's driving me to distraction waiting for the border fabric to arrive, especially as I can't track its movements. So in order to give myself something else to focus on, I've started on my Frida Khalo project. For once this is something purely for me - it's going to adorn the fold out bed in my sewing room when I need to transform it for guests. The best part of this is that I really don't need to be thinking about what someone else would like - I can just please myself!

The quilt really began with a book that my daughter gave me for my birthday this year - The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. It's about a young man who lives in the household of Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera when Lev Trotsky arrives to live with them. No sooner was I into it than I kept coming across fabric with Frida on it - one thing led to another, as it does.
The fabric, called 'Frida's Garden' by Alexander Henry fabrics, is quite something, although it doesn't quite capture the famous mono-brow. It has a wild and verdant feel about it and has monkeys and parrots which featured in Khalo's self portraits. It's a large scale print so I decided it would well suit this very simple block, Venetian Dreams which was designed by Janet Houts. The unfinished block is 15 1/2 inches square so it certainly comes together quickly.
To compliment Frida I've been cutting into a couple of rather treasured bundles of fabrics - one of Guatemalan fabric that I bought from Priscilla Bianchi when she taught at the Symposium in Palmerston North in 2007, and the other a group of Indonesian ikat fabrics that I bought in 2009 when we held Symposium in Wellington. It's a marvellous thing how fabric matures while waiting to be used in just the right project! As I am sure you will know Frida Khalo usually dressed in tradition Mexican textiles and clothes, so I felt she would enjoy sharing space with other traditional fabrics.
There are also little amulets sprinkled across the fabric - depictions of traditional Mexican metal amulets in the shape of hands, burning hearts, eyes and arms. Sacred charms to ward off evil, these were also often incorporated into her paintings. I'm making sure these little amulets are shining through the quilt. It's led me to reading up more on Frida's art and life - such a fascinating, feisty woman.
I've made 12 blocks so far - another 8 and that will probably be enough. I'll keep you posted.