When it comes to stitching, I have a penchant for small things. I love tiny EPP projects, foundation piecing little Artist Trading Cards, making tiny appliqué mini-hoops, crocheting adorably small crochet animals, making tiny mini-quilts and sweet little pincushions.
Given the choice I would always choose to work on some tiny stitching project rather than a huge ambitious quilt.
There are a couple of problems with all this tiny stuff… I get super-tense about making sure each tiny stitch is at least in the right place. This results in gripping the fabric and needle for dear life, and the joints in my hands get really sore, and my shoulders feel like I have been working at the coalface all day! I have to remind myself to relax and breathe on a regular basis (maybe that’s not such a bad thing – a topic for a future blog post there!).
And then there’s my eyesight. I use reading glasses and and a magnifying lamp which helps a lot, but when I settle down for an evening of relaxation, I absolutely don’t want to be sitting there with my reading glasses perched on the end of my nose and the bright light of the daylight bulb affecting my ability to go to sleep later on!
So, my head, hands and eyes are telling me I need a break from all this close up work, and my heart seems to have recognised this, because I’m constantly being drawn to quilting and sewing styles where the focus is on big stitches, texture, improvisation and fun. Quiltmania, my favourite quilting magazine, has been a great source of information and inspiration on this. It was there that I first read about the kantha quilts of India, and more recently I saw the fabulous work of Akiko Ike (here’s a little introduction to her work), read about the style of stitching that she calls Chiku Chiku (aka Crazy Sashiko), and from there started to spend ages scouring Pinterest and blogs for pictures of Boro and Sashiko stitching which influenced her. I won’t go on about this – but if you are interested, the fabulous Susan Briscoe has written a blog post which serves as fab introduction and there’s a fabulous description of her meeting with Ike-san and her introduction to Chiku Chiku just here.
This is a very long introduction to telling you about my current project! Hidden away amongst all the gorgeous treasures at Beyond Measure (my new favourite online shop for stitchy gratification) there are the most wonderful bundles of wool tweed fabric (which are amazing value and top quality wool).
When I was lucky enough to my hands on one (kindly contributed to my stash by lovely Grace who is the brains behind Beyond Measure), I knew what I wanted to do (influenced by this beautiful Boro-inspired bag, and this one, and many more!). Here are some pics of my progress – I’m making it up as I go along, as you can probably tell.
I am making two panels for the bag front and back, quilt as you go style. I’m still working on the first side, and the great thing about knowing that I will be making the other side is that I can put what I learn into practice. I am going to end up with a bag with two very different sides!
I’ve used quite big pieces so far – but will probably add some smaller pieces (maybe circles) on top, further down the line. I am really enjoying the improvisational nature of the project, and my decision not to worry about whether I am breaking any rules (mainly because I am not sure there are any…).
Can’t wait to show you my further progress and what I am learning. And if you skipped over all those links back there – do go and check out Susan Briscoe’s lovely post about her meeting with Akiko Ike, it’s so nice!
Thanks so much again to Beyond Measure for the lovely lovely fabric. If you are feeling inspired, here’s the link to the wool tweed again, and they also have some wonderful Sashiko needles too. And if you fancy a day out, there’s a Beyond Measure Open Day in fabulous Todmorden on April 1st.