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I love all things sewing!  It's all about the creative journey.  All my blog posts are letters to my sewing alter-ego - Lola!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Tale of Two "Sewing Cities"

A Creative Journey

Oh Lola,
In my wildest dreams, I never thought I could travel to so many interesting sewing destinations!  These destinations don’t even require any “real” travel.  I learned I could create my very own “sewing cities” with creative techniques, broken rules and just plain fun!

As you know, my personal sewing compass is all over the place.  I decided a long time ago to expose myself to as many sewing opportunities as possible.  I have tried heirloom sewing, garment sewing, quilting, machine embroidery and machine applique to name a few.  Some techniques deserve to be revisited and others are yet to be discovered.  My latest discoveries are very outside the box for me, and fall into the category of “Art Quilting”.

The first new sewing destination came to me through a class taught by Susan Powell at Thimble Pleasures in Chapel Hill, NC. The class, titled Cityscapes was a marriage of unstructured or free form quilting, art quilting techniques and machine applique.  The class was a wonderful opportunity to sew without rules.  Susan introduced herself as someone who prefers to sew without structure.  I loved her the minute she told the class,  “There are no mistakes and there are no rules!”  Our class journey began with new ways to look at fabrics. Thinking about colors and patterns as building blocks – literally – was a very interesting notion to me.  My eye was awakened to think of fabrics as windows, doors, roofs and roads.  Scale and form could be anything that struck my fancy.  The truly great thing about creating fabric buildings – no structural engineering required! 

Sewing and cutting without a definitive pattern was so liberating.  My buildings could be whatever I wanted them to be!  Motifs within my cityscape could go in any direction.  Seam allowances didn’t matter and straight cutting should be avoided!  My fellow students and I shared ideas, fabrics and one of the most collaborative classes I have ever attended.  Each of us had brought various fabrics to use, but before the day was out, little pieces of my stash found themselves into the artwork of my classmates and vice versa.  It was so fun to offer each other both encouragement and little bits of fabric.  When I look at my Cityscape, I can’t help remembering Susan, Sharyn, Nicole, Mary and all my other collaborators.  They each lent a serendipitous contribution to my finished art quilt that is both magical and memorable.  I loved this project so much; I plan on making more Cityscapes in the future. 


My second “sewing city” is a more whimsical but no less creative destination.  I arrived here via Karen West’s class, Fusible Applique Houses, also offered at Thimble Pleasures.  Karen’s samples opened new creative horizons for all of us.  Until that moment, I just never thought, I’d want a fabric with dogs or cats on it!  Remember – “never say never!”

The process was somewhat similar in that the rules were very outside the lines of conventional sewing rules.  I learned that Wonder Under and Fast 2 Fuse are my friends.  I also learned that it stinks to gum up your iron with sticky goo! I gained a new and serious appreciation for free-motion applique techniques and found even more ways to look at fabric as a building material!  My imagination grew whimsical wings and took flight!  I named my finished project – House of Possibilities. 

This class was another triumph of collaboration, sewing sisterhood, and creativity.  Thinking of fabrics as treetops, grass, roofs, flowers, windows and pets was like a trip into a fantasyland.  Layering and fusing the fabrics created a canvas for stitching details that brought the scenes to life.  I felt like Mary Poppins – ready to jump into the scene and explore the little worlds each of us created.  How fun it was to sew a perfect little house built entirely by the threads of my imagination.  Seeing how my classmates, Nicole, Debbie, Diane, and Bonnie liberated little butterflies, bunnies, puppies and kitties from their fabrics, helped me to think of my fabrics as characters with stories to tell! 

House of Possibilities

After my metaphorical travels, I find my creativity invigorated.  I am open to new techniques that will further my sewing journey.  I can’t wait to travel to my next “sewing city” and meet other sister travelers along the way.  All that’s required – a little imagination, a few scraps and a desire to “sew” out into the world!

Hugs and stitches,
Sew Sleepless