October 19, 2020

The World Turns Upside Down - Part 2


This is a challenge project from the Just Wanna Quilt Facebook group.  We each got 2 packets of swatches from Free Spirit Fabrics, and the instructions were “make whatever you want”.  I looked at these luscious colors, and decided I need some of that brightness and beauty in these hard times.   

Casting around for ideas, I remembered a set of three little pieces I'd made back in the '80s that I'd also made with 2" multicolored squares.  These were a color theory experiment.  All have the same base with varied ideas for coloring the circle shapes.  #1 is bright, pure hues contrasting with the less intense squares.  #2 is low contrast, circle colors in similar intensity and value to squares.  #3 uses the very same fabrics for the circles as the squares, with top/bottom and right/left colors swapped.   




I made identical little (18") quilt tops out of the two sets of swatches.  I used the colors in a gradation of value with mixed hues, similar to my inspiration pieces.  I had to add 7 of my own fabrics to make the quilt tops square.  

The colors actually glow.  As I came downstairs on a dark, rainy morning, I noticed that even in the gloomy room, the quilt top on my work table was still glowing.  How cool is that!

From who knows where, I came up with the concept of rotating one of the tops 90 degrees, stacking them one on top of the other, and then using reverse appliqué to let the colors of the second layer appear through the first.  (Long story, made very short….)  At some point, I realized that it’s a social change statement - an even ordering of light to dark, opening up to show the underneath and mix the layers together.  You can read more about that in Part 1.

And then, I created a huge technical challenge for myself.  (I do this fairly often...) 

I decided that a simple reverse appliqué wouldn't necessarily look like there was another layer underneath.  I needed some depth.  Ideas I thought of and sometimes even mocked up were:  

1.  Put a piece of matt board between the tops (would look too stiff)
2.  Tuck some thickish perle cotton inside the turn under (made just a ridged edge, still not layered looking)
3.  Put a layer of flannel between the two tops (didn't show much)
4.  Put three layers of flannel between the two layers (that's what I ended up doing)

In order for that to work, I needed to have a much deeper seam allowance to both cover the thicker edge to the hole and still have enough fabric to tuck under.  Easier said than done I discovered!

Here's the technique I came up with.

 Baste around tracing paper shapes.

Cut top pieced layer and all three flannel layers inside basting line, leaving 1/2" or more turn under allowance.  Be very careful to not cut the back layer.

  Clip curves almost to basting.

 Trim off just the flannel layers to the basting line.  Be super careful to not cut either pieced layer.

 Turn cotton around and under the flannel layers.  Check shape against the tracing paper pattern.

 Baste around again.  Stitch underneath the turn under by holding the edge up and away a little bit.

 Joyfully remove basting and move on to the next shape.

 Finish some shapes and cut swatches to plan out the next.

All in all, it did work, but boy, was it hard to keep the geometric holes really true, and I got more puckers than I'd anticipated, and I hadn't considered that there wouldn't be any turn under at all at the inside corner of square cut outs.  I finally just forged ahead and did the best that I could.



 This hole is an homage to the inspirational little projects from the '80's.  It was tricky!  For the other two holes with shapes inside, I used the fabric removed from the hole.  For this one, there wasn't enough fabric to give me that large turn under allowance I needed.  So I had to cut a new yellow square.

And I do, indeed, love the result.  The colors are so gorgeous!  And the meaning I've given it is so true to my heart. 





The World Turns Upside Down - Part 1


This is my newest art quilt - I didn't start out to make a topical quilt.  I was just playing with some gorgeous swatches.

I have mentioned on this blog before how much I love challenge quilts.  This challenge is another one from the Just Wanna Quilt facebook group.  I looked at these luscious colors, and decided I need some of that brightness and beauty in these hard times.  We each got 2 packets of swatches from Free Spirit Fabrics, and the instructions were “make whatever you want”. 

My plan was to make two little quilt tops exactly the same, rotate one, and cut holes in the top one for reverse appliqué to let the other colors show through.

And then, as I worked on the quilt, I realized that I was making a portrait of one of the multiple crises that we are facing right now.  I realized that I was making a statement about the big changes we need to make in this country - the issue of increasing social justice and equality in rights and opportunity, becoming more like the nation that the Declaration of Independence calls forth.

This quilt represents the two layers of our society.  The layer that has been forced to the lower level for so long is now stepping forward, popping out, and better yet, the upper level is opening up to the changes.  Since the fabrics of the two layers are in different orientations, they mix together.  This is the restructuring of our society.  We are moving towards an even distribution of the different values and colors of fabrics....and of people.

I'd made my two layers with an even ordering of light to dark, a gradation of value with mixed hues.  The top then began opening up to show what's underneath and began letting the layers mix together.  

About the title:

I was having trouble naming this quilt, and then I heard it loud and clear while watching "Hamilton" for the fifth time.  The song "Yorktown" has the refrain “the world turned upside down”.  I’ve come across these words on several history sites - for one, it’s the title of this great blog with posts about all sorts of historic recipes and crafts.  It's well worth a visit if this is your kind of thing.

Today is actually the anniversary of the end of the battle of Yorktown.  Here are two sites that tell some of that story - the PBS series "Liberty!" and the site "AmericanRevolution".

There is a drinking song called "The World Turned Upside Down", and a folk tale about the defeated British marching out of Yorktown singing it.  There is no actual evidence for what, if any, music was in the air at that moment.  But it's an old English drinking song, themed on underdogs turning over oppressors or oppressive rules.  It comes from around 1650, and is about disagreement between the public and the English government about how to celebrate Christmas - the question of whether Christmas is meant to be solemn or celebratory.  

I altered the wording of my title to be  “The World Turns Upside Down”, since our turning is still very much in progress.

To see and read about the design and construction process of this little quilt (it's only 18" square), follow along on Part 2.

To be part of the experience of how this turning the world upside down thing is going for the U.S., vote vote vote and see you in November when we'll learn how we've done.