On Cutting Up a Quilt

Yes, I confess to having done this. And it wasn’t my first garish attempt (which became affectionately known as The Apocalypse) that I cut up. It was a later, more sedate piece, called Partial Fulfilment, that fell under the blade of my rotary cutter. Here is the original quilt:

Partial Fulfilment (205 x 123 cm)

Made in 2008, this quilt was inspired by a detail from a painting by Gustav Klimt titled, in translation, Partial Fulfilment. (The title has also been translated as Accomplishment). The central (loose) panel of the quilt is the fabric representation of the detail from the painting. Beneath the panel was a hand quilted outline of a labyrinth, stitched on a piece of plain cloth. I wanted to use a quilted labyrinth as the background for a tree and, instead of stitching another circle of paths, I used the existing, hidden labyrinth. But that meant I had to cut it out of the quilt. Here is the result:

Tree and Labyrinth (79 x 80 cm)

For the original quilt I had pieced borders to go around the central panel, and got a bit carried away. I do remember enjoying the process of piecing strips and more strips of blocks and then turning them into rows to make a frame. Once I had cut out the central piece for Tree and Labyrinth, I used some of the remains as backgrounds for small trees.

These three Shadow Trees were made in 2014 and each measured 25 cm square, so there was plenty of leftover cut-up quilt to play with and over the next three years I slowly made another six small tree quilts. Each one contains a hand quilted circle, or two. While I was about it I remade the trees pictured above. The plan was to hand stitch the nine small bound quiltlets together to form a small forest of shadow trees. I soon found that this was not going to work because the quilts were not perfectly square and the final piece would distort when sewn together. So I put them away and thought about what what to do next.

My regular readers might remember that I recently discovered the pleasure and quickness of quilting with a walking foot. While the foot was still on my machine I quilted a backdrop for the nine small quilts. I can’t decide what to call the piece (which measures 112 x 112 cm), but think I might settle on City Trees.

There are still a few leftover pieces from poor cut up Partial Fulfilment. But I think it is time to lay her to rest.

25 thoughts on “On Cutting Up a Quilt

  1. ‘City Trees’ is a good title — my immediate visual response to the piece was to see paths, windows – sometimes in rows as one would find in an apartment block, doors, roofs, houses — all built backdrops to the trees. The labyrinths, the circularity of soul.
    Golly Maz — you’ve got me waxing lyrical

    Liked by 1 person

  2. City Trees is an apt name.
    What a huge undertaking and with such breathtaking results. I’m wondering about time frame here…was this a long term project?
    I especially like the display layout of individual city tree “quilt-lets” incorporated onto to the whole of the quilt as a removable background…wow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Because I did the work piecemeal over 15 years (gulp) and because it evolved more or less of its own, it did not feel like a huge undertaking. But I am relieved the project is now done and shelved, as it were. Thanks for your vote for the name and for your assessment of the layout.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Okay just when I think I’ve seen your most spectacular work BAM – something else spectacular appears on your blog! The tree piece with the floating sections leaves me breathless!


  4. Great idea, Mariss! I love “City Trees” – both as a title and as a piece – and this is such a brilliant way to give a new lease of life to an older work that you’re not feeling any more. And isn’t this the very essence of quilting, too? Taking pieces of fabric and turning them into something new and wonderful!


      1. Sometimes it has to be done! I have a stash of old knitting projects that are waiting to be unravelled and remade into something better… I’m glad to see someone else is doing the same thing!


  5. Wow that’s brave to cut up a quilt. Seems it lived up to its name ‘Partial fulfilment’ then? I really like the new quilt and the title ‘City trees’.
    Actually one of my favourite memories of Grahamstown all those years ago was walking the streets at night and seeing some of the old street trees dramatically lit by the old-fashioned street lights that highlighted the structures of the trees in interesting ways.


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