On the Finishing Touch

After you have spent hours and months first piecing and then quilting a new work, you grow a little jaded and so, when it comes to finishing off the quilt, it can feel like a bridge too far. But if you don’t finish it off, then all those hours and months of stitching will go to waste. Yes, I am writing about myself in the second person, and yes, this is a conversation I have had with myself more than once.

The most recent such conversation had an added irritation. I had to sew a facing onto this particular quilt because I did not have any more of the charcoal edging fabric to use for a matching binding. I have been told that a facing is a better, more professional finish for an an art quilt than a binding, and so, I faced my fear, and did it. I first researched how to face a quilt (thank you google) and then very carefully measured, cut, pinned, and stitched the facing onto Honky-Tonk Blues.

Honky-Tonk Blues

I am disappointed that, despite my best efforts, the quilt does not hang perfectly straight. The undulation on the bottom edge irritates me, despite telling myself that it is keeping with the idea of the off-key honky-tonk piano that the quilt adumbrates. So, as I write this it is swaddled between two towels, with a large cutting matting weighting it down. Hopefully this will gently press the undulations into submission.

Now that I have got that off my chest, let me say that was very pleased to be asked to contribute a piece to an exhibition which will form part of FynArts 2019. This music and art festival will take place in Hermanus, South Africa, from 7 to 17 June. The Art of Thread exhibition titled Shades and Tones is curated by Dal Botha and will feature work by 33 fibre artists. The brief was to use fibre and textile to interpret a piece of music.

Not being well-versed in music, I was not sure where to start and decided to read up about the patterns in music. When I learnt that an octave of a piano keyboard is a reflection of the Fibonacci Sequence (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8…) I was inspired to stitch this sequence, using a set of plain fabrics with beatiful shades and tones that I had bought as a set of fat quarters (because I could not resist them). Working out how to construct the block was fun, sewing the 25th block was not as much fun, but by then I had used up all the fabric and possible colour combinations.

These photographs show the process, from working out the measurements for the piano keys and the construction of the blocks, to the pin up, and the completed top.

And the name of the quilt? It wanted to be called Honky-Tonk Blues from the start. When I found that the song is a guitar, not a piano, piece I nearly renamed it Bohemian Rhapsody. But the quilt objected.

To end off, here is a close up of the quilting.

10 thoughts on “On the Finishing Touch

  1. Oh, Marriss! Any piece of music can be(and does often is) transposed to another instrument…so to heck with the original composition for guitar (I’m a classical guitarist, so I can say this!). I’m sure somewhere there are bundles of sheet music with a myriad of arrangements for said piece for piano.
    Not to worry.
    ps-fantastic quilt, let us know how it fares in the show and if you liked the facing technique.


  2. A truly inspired piece. Good luck Mariss! And the undulation is your quilt’s natural fluid response to the irresistible tempo of jazz. It sounds almost criminal to try and hobble that. You could add that argument as a footnote for the judges’ behoof ;-))


  3. Congratulation on taking on doing the facing! I remember doing my first facing for an art quilt – I had to redo it a couple of times. It gets much easier and I have done a zillion of them now. I do not always do facing on art quilts or wallhangings, sometimes a binding is a better frame for the piece. Your piece came out wonderful and I am impressed with the research you did on piano keys. Oh and your stitching is wonderful!


  4. Amazing rippling, musical quilt! Congratulations on a work well done and on being invited to contribute to the exhibition. Thanks for sharing the process in making this quilt. Fascinating and educational…as always!


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