back to my quilt roots -more or less


Strings. Strips. Stripes. Whatever you want to call them, they are where I started when my mother's friend taught me to make a string block on a paper square...sometime in the 1960s. A decade later that I found a quilting class and (ha - with a pattern) made what amounted to a string quilt.

I made a lot of detours since 1974, but whenever I was stymied I came back to my friend Helene's advice "when all else fails, sew strips." Last week in the studio I started doing just that. I cut without a ruler and sew together and the process is relaxing.

Here, I combined some of my beautiful (and not-so beautiful) African fabrics with Helene's hand-dyes and some South African hand-dyes and I sewed the strips together. This was the result. I left the pieces on my wall and went home.

But when I came back the next day, they looked too predictable, too structured, and while I couldn't put my finger on it - they didn't feel like mine. Do you know what I mean? Have you ever experienced this feeling?

Out came the un-picker and I went to work taking the stitches out of most of the strips.

When I sewed them back together I worked much more intuitively. I didn't overthink (as I had in the originals) and this is the redo, which looks much happier. Yes - and much more like mine. Sigh of relief! What am I going to do with it? Keep going? Make another one? slice it up? Or do I throw it into a box and leave it until it asks me to take it out? Maybe all of the above. Or maybe I have another idea...

In the meantime, I may go back to my triangles. We'll see. Very often my best work comes out of leftovers (which I have BAGS of).

What do you do when you are stymied? I'd love to know what works for you! Let's talk about it.


 all text & images ©rayna gillman 2019