You may remember the Under The Sea Block I blogged about in mid-June. Well, I have to admit something unflattering here: not every one of my projects turns out well. This one was a particularly epic disaster. I was nearly ready to embroider the seams and embellish this piece when I thought "Hey, what this needs is sun rays going down through the water to the ocean floor." A good idea, but.....I decided the best way to depict these rays of light was to machine embroider them with a pale blue thread. Again, good theory..... Unfortunately my sewing machine did not enjoy trying to satin stitch over so many seams going in a variety of directions. I don't think the muslin foundation was particularly helpful to the process, either. I shredded a lot of thread. I broke a bunch of needles. I muttered and fretted. I refused to change my plan, and eventually the "ocean" fabrics got stuck in the machine, and got damaged as I angrily removed the mess. I hurled the piece in the garbage (oh, yes, I'm that mature!) and stomped off to check my emails.
Now, this happened over a week ago, so I have now had time to step back and learn a few things.
1. Everybody Makes Mistakes
I know this sounds totally obvious, but here's what I realized - even my favorite art bloggers, Etsy artists and master quilters screw up sometimes. We see their best work, but even they must have pieces that didn't turn out the way they wanted. So I shouldn't be intimidated just because I see their masterpieces. There may have been 3 or 4 (or more) trial runs before they got the prizewinning version. So in the spirit of honesty, and to encourage you to keep experimenting and learning in your fabric art, I will admit it. Some of my projects turn out ugly. But often I achieve my goals and make things of beauty. And always, I can learn something (once I stop fuming and stomping around).
2. One Thing At A Time
The thing that caused catastrophe in this case, is a common mistake I make. I get so many ideas as I go along, that I am tempted to add every technique and embellishment I know to every piece I make. I finally understand why artists work in series - one idea leads to another, and another, and another. I don't need to throw the entire bead box onto each quilt; a little restraint and editing can be a beautiful thing. So the new piece pictured below is Under The Sea 2.
3. The Sewing Machine Knows
I'm not paranoid, I'm not imagining it. If I get stressed out or in a hurry when I'm sewing, my Janome knows it and rebels by malfunctioning. I need to relax or even walk away and take a break. When I go back to it, the machine once again works beautifully. I don't why, just trust me, that's the way it is.
Now on to the eye candy! Under The Sea 2...... This time I only pieced the ocean part of the picture. The sky, land and sand are single pieces of fabric. I think having the busy-ness in one section only keeps the focus on the ocean. This patchwork is done by English paper piecing and whip-stitching the tiny pieces (the smallest are 1" squares) together. This area will be covered in Kantha quilting (more on that in a future post), to tie the various colors together.
For the bottom of the ocean, I painted a piece of canvas drop cloth (Canadian Tire) with brown Setacolor transparent paint and some gold acrylic craft paint. I wet the canvas, scrunched it up, dabbed and brushed on paint, and added salt crystals as it dried. I'm happy with the way it turned out.
And here's the basic shape of the piece. I'm going to use a thin batting and some cotton backing, to highlight the Kantha quilting and help support the weight of the embellishments I will add. When I'm done, I'll add a false back, to cover up the thread ends on the back.
Under The Sea 2 by Jenni Godley