I haven’t posted much recently because I am mainly trying to finish things off and there isn’t much to show. I have taken two quilts to be professionally quilted which is a great way of getting them out of their plastic bags and off my workroom floor – so I feel like I am progressing the tidying up, although I then have to do something with them when they return. I made the first one to cover the sofa when the dogs are bounding about, but, of course, so much work has gone into it that I now can’t let them anywhere near it. It was made of scraps but these have been transformed into precious fragments after hours have gone into the cutting and stitching.
That aside, I have been finishing off a quilt that my sewing group made for me. We all took a month of the year and chose a theme and the others in the group, The Saint Andrews Quilters, made the blocks. So we have had pretty hearts for Valentine’s day, and sparkly fireworks for November, and shiny crystaline snow for January. My month was either June or July (I don’t have a great head for details), and I wanted to use up a stash of strawberry prints that I have had for a long time. I began collecting them because strawberries are the Medieval Historian’s favourite fruit. Shortly before they closed down Rose and Hubble, did a line of really luscious strawberry prints and I couldn’t resist. So, I chose a very simple Kaffe Fassett design and off we went. This is the quilt from Quilt Road, one of those irresistible Rowan books:
And this is the book:
And this is Kaffe wearing the quilt on the back of the book:
And now we are getting to the point of the post.
The quilt is very nearly finished. I am stitching the borders together, and it is really nice, but not what I was expecting, and this is what I wanted to blog about. I really love Kaffe Fassett’s work and have done for ages. I bought a copy of Glorious Knitting and pored over every beautiful page and photograph. I love that idea that you don’t just use one red you use ten, or ten blues, and a flash of lime green. I have loved his work for years. But my quilt, which I will photograph when it’s finished, just didn’t look like Kaffe’s: lovely as it is,it isn’t Kaffe. It has a large variety of blue fabric but it doesn’t have that Kaffe colour drench effect.
I was leafing through the introduction to the book and found out why. As he says, traditionally quilters use a lot of contrast in terms of light and dark. Make sure your lights are light and your darks are really dark, and be careful about those mediums is advice that I have been given on any number of workshops. And if you are interested in playing around with block designs, that is good advice. If you want those blocks to show up you have to make sure you have enough contrast in the fabric. But Kaffe isn’t really interested in making Irish Chains that leap out at you, he is interested in a wash of colour, so he deliberately chooses all medium tones. This is conventional wisdom overturned, but it does explain how his colour glows, and why my quilt with its strawberry prints on pale backgrounds don’t zing like his. The question then becomes, does this matter or not?
At one level it does because I started out to make a Kaffe Fassett quilt, but in another it is quite a good thing, I think, that I didn’t make a clone. I have got a quilt which mine and which makes me think of the Medieval Historian, rather than having a pale imitation of Fassett’s style, which he does much better than I can. Starting with a strawberry printed on white, I could never have achieved a Fassett colourwash, but I have achieved a quilt which will have tremendous sentimental value and which has luscious strawberries all over it. I remember a very well known quilter running a workshop in Bristol in which people used her techniques and closely specified materials who was then surprised when all the workshop samples looked as if they could have been made by her. She was really disappointed but gave people no room to improvise. I am not that good at slavish copies. Better a really good version of yourself than a pale imitation of someone else, as the saying goes.