The Tree of Life part 11: the growing season

I have returned at last to The Tree of Life quilt.

Strips for the trunk and branches.

Strips for the trunk and branches.

About time, and past time, of course, but Christmas got in the way, and so did the quilts for the triplets, and then our sprint up to Cairns. So, finally, after doing all the other chores I could think of, including upholstering two more of the Dowager’s dining chair seats, I have opened up that particular Pandora’s box again. And it’s been surprisingly OK. I’ve spent a soothing hour or so cutting strips. The trunk and branches of the Tree are going to be cut from created fabric, made from lots of pieced strips of different widths and shades of brown. I considered a solid brown, but it was too heavy, too primitive, and I wanted a more organic look, so I’ve gone for strips to represent the growth rings of a tree.

The pieced strip: laying out the first branches

The pieced strip: laying out the first branches

It’ll be starting from a light to mid brown where the trunk joins the root system, and gradually darken towards the tips of the branches, since I’m hoping this will give the impression of branches silhouetted against the sky. Whether it’ll make any difference once all the leaves are in place I have no idea, but I’m completely working by instinct here, so bear with me!

I’m still considering the best way of constructing the tree. I’ve tried wash-out fabric adhesive glue stick and wash out adhesive tape. Neither gives me the good, firm, edge-to-edge adhesion I need while I’m appliquéing by machine. So I’m back to the lightweight fusible web. It’ll make things a little stiffer. But once washed, I hope everything will loosen up again.

Trunk and 4 branches done, three more to go.

Trunk and 4 branches done, three more to go.

Actually, washing this thing is giving me nightmares, since there are so many different fabrics and some very strong colours, any of which could be the one that bleeds and ruins the thing. I belong to the school of ‘wash after construction’ rather than prewashing my fabrics. I much prefer to work with the size still in the fabric, since it gives me crisper edges and makes the fabric easier to handle and less likely to fray. And the grain stays straighter, I think. But I pay the price in painfully crossed fingers when it’s time to wash the quilt… Of course, I wash it cold, a short gentle wash, liquid detergent and three colour catchers in the tub too, and so far, no disasters!  I know the accepted procedure is to prewash everything and then starch and press the fabric afterwards, but there’s a lot of fraying, the fabric isn’t as straight, and starch isn’t the same as size, it’s too ‘glossy’.

Anyway, by tomorrow afternoon, I should be ready to start appliquéing this lot down. Not a job I’m looking forward to, and one that can make or break whether this is a good quilt or an OK quilt. I’m hoping for good… Wish me luck!

That’s it for today.  I’m all pieced/traced/templated out.  I’ll be back tomorrow.


12 thoughts on “The Tree of Life part 11: the growing season

  1. tialys says:

    It’s looking great. I have several ‘pandora’s box’ projects going on somewhere which I must go back to sometime. I’m with you on the washing fabric after construction for all the reasons you have stated above but, also, because I usually forget.

  2. defensordelaverdad says:

    Reblogged this on Fabián.

  3. I wait with bated breath to see the result. Fingers crossed those strong colours behave themselves!

  4. Nanette says:

    It’s looking really good, I like your decision to go with the ‘made’ fabric, much more organic. I usually wash after as well, but I just finished a hanging letter holder for a friend, the main fabric had strong red poppies on it so I washed before and there was no running. But! when I removed the water soluble marking pen quilting lines later parts did run badly, so who can tell? I did some wailing and teeth gnashing but my friend wasn’t bothered, she said once all her bills were tucked in the pockets no-one will ever know.

  5. I think I am one of only a few prewashers in my sewing group. Old habits die hard. The good news is that modern fabrics are usually much more reliable.

    • katechiconi says:

      The exception being that wonderful hand-dyed batik print you just can’t resist, which subsequently bleeds brilliant blue dye all over everything… Hence my habit of washing everything cold, and with three colour catchers in the tub. It was a scarring experience!

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