There continues to be interest in how I constructed the Escher Quilt. Specifically, Ina Veurink wanted more information about the size of the trapezoid elements. I just assembled one from scraps so I could answer her question.
I cut 2″ fabric strips to start, from the fabrics I was going to use for the trapezoids. So each trapezoid starts out 2″ tall. Next I trimmed the angles on each side using an equilateral triangle acrylic template which I’d marked with green tape at the 5 1/4″ line:
I laid out the 4 pieces: a 2″ triangle (in the quilt all the triangles are cut from the same dark fabric), 3 trapezoids (each 2″ tall, 5 1/4″ on the long, bottom side). I partially sewed the triangle to one end of one trapezoid
(NOTE: half the finished triangle blocks begin with the small triangle on the right, half on the left – I talked about that somewhere in the posts as I went along). It’s a partial seam because to fit the final trapezoid in, you have to be able to lift that first side of the small triangle to sew that seam. Next I attached a second trapezoid, then I fit in the third trapezoid, last I finished by completing the partial seam. Pressed and trimmed.
Finished triangle size: each side should end up at 6 3/8″ (although if your sewing was more accurate than mine on this test triangle you might actually end up closer to 6 1/2″). Whatever your final triangle size, all the triangles should finish the same size.
This is an advanced intermediate quilt (definitely not for a beginner, even with instructions).
Another note you wouldn’t pick up if you didn’t read through the comments is this one:
Just keep in mind you need 25 fabrics – one solid for the “background” triangles and any borders you plan on adding; 24 patterned fabrics – 8 light, 8 medium, 8 dark (https://jmncreativeendeavours.ca/2021/05/08/the-escher-quilt-2/)…. You’ll likely do a lot of auditioning to build a collection of 24 fabrics. As for the background, I suggest a navy (which is what I used given the colour blend of my fabrics) but black is certainly a good option (that was the background colour in the original photo I saw). All the best with this quilt. One other thought, because trying to pull together a collection of 24 fabrics can be daunting you might consider a kit that has selected fabrics for you (these quilt kits are reasonably priced: https://www.quilt-agious.com/shop/Kits/p/Escher—Batik-x46838321.htm).
I started working on this quilt around Jan 22. It’s gone more slowly than some quilts because there were decisions along the way I found difficult to make – but I completed it last night. Yesterday I finished quilting the wide outer border, added the facing/hidden binding and hand sewed it on the back. Label added last.
I’ve tentatively called the quilt “Planets with Moons”. The finished dimensions: 49 1/2″ wide by 68″ long – a rather large throw, a bit too long to hang on a wall unless you have rather high ceilings. It certainly is a good length if you’re a tall person!
I’m particularly pleased with the back strip. In fact, I’m thinking I might do an entire quilt based on that idea – a 6″ drunkard’s path block attached to two 3″ drunkard’s path blocks. The resulting oval shape is interesting. I wonder what it would look like if I limited my colour palette to two colours (blending various shades). Something to think about.
Quilting the project was somewhat complicated. I started by setting up a circular embroidery to fill the individual large circles and quilted them all. Next I had to design an embroidery to fill half the background square (I could only embroider two sections at a time (either left two or right two) because of the hoops I have. Filling the background took three days – a total of 35 embroidery repeats. Then I decided to adapt the circular embroidery into a long narrow element for the border. That left a small corner embroidery which I added to finish each corner.
The challenge with quitting in the hoop is getting the embroideries to line up and join. Lots of math involved in trying to position and adjust the size of each embroidery so the stitching is precisely where you want it (my Pfaff Creative Icon 2 has a “precise positioning” capability which makes quilting in the hoop possible). I did “touch” the large circles in a few spots but for the most part I managed to avoid crossing the circle/square boundary. I stitched both sides of the narrow batik sashing in the ditch but chose not to add a quilting to that element, it was narrow enough that it didn’t require quilting.
With this quilt now done, I can put it in the pile for the Art Labs showing in the summer. I will hang it with several other quilts I’ve made using Drunkard’s Path, showcasing the technique as an artistic choice. The other grouping I have ready includes three “Convergence” quilts. So far, then, I have seven quilts set aside for that show. I will now turn to working on smaller wall art pieces, including a set of 6″ x 6″ which I’ll show at Art Labs, but they’ll really be for next December in Tatamagouche!
It’s being able to show my art that keeps me working at it. There’s always some time pressure – keeping in mind how much I need to actually produce for a show to work. Fortunately, I don’t need all new pieces for each show, I’m able to show older pieces along with a few newer ones which creates a new context for each piece.
Carefully examine the work and the decisions in this example of Bisa Butler’s textile art. [Detail of “If I Ruled The World, Imagine That” (2022), cotton, silk, wool, metallic brocade, and velvet, quilted and appliquéd, 102 x 51 inches].
This complete piece is large 102″ x 51″ – the width of a king size bedspread and 2/3 the height. This portrait is one section of it and still you can see how amazing her decisions are regarding colour pattern and background!
As much as I enjoy creating image wall art, I can’t begin to think in the manner and scale that Butler does – notice the roller skates on the pants, the hair, and glasses frames, the shadowing on the vest, the detail on his hat. Her wild choices of fabric, her amazingly done appliqué work, the juxtaposition of patterns are simply wonderful. My works are small – hers are massive!
Here it is (for now). Today, I added a narrow batik inner border and a wider grey print outer border, both with mitred corners. Two things: the dark batik, which has sort of circular shapes, echoes the colours in the circles (Planets). The medium grey (with a darker grey print) blends the background elements.
The only uncertainty here are the small “Moons” bleeding into the borders (pinned in place). I definitely intend having them, the question is do I have enough or are there too many? Are they in the right places? I still have some somewhat larger ones – I tried a couple but they were too strong.
I spent most of my morning working with ideas for quilting the top. The finished circular block (made from 4 individual blocks) is 300mm x 300mm. I have a 260mm x 260mm hoop which will let me embroider a circular design that will fit within the circles (which are 250mm in diameter). However, the background presents a problem. I can stitch-in-the-ditch around each block element but I feel I still have to fill each corner with something. I could do that as separate embroideries – two blocks at a time, using a 360mm x 200mm hoop. I could also try creating a design that will embroider in the 360 x 350 hoop (the reversible hoop) but that hoop presents unique challenges because trying to match any line that crosses the midline is very tricky. When I’ve used that Grand Dream hoop in the past I’ve made sure the design elements come to the centre but not across it. The circles make that difficult to do. It’s a problem I still have to sleep on.
My next step is to make a final decision about the small “Moons”, fuse them in place, and edge stitch them. While I’m doing that, I have to come up with something for the quilt back. I don’t have enough of the grey border fabric to do a pieced back with that fabric alone – although I can use it along with other fabrics. I still have 7 unsewn Drunkard’s Path blocks and a bunch of smaller grey quarter circle elements I can add to the collection.
I just finished the decorative edge stitching on all the small circle appliqués. Slowly and carefully – using 50wt rayon embroidery thread (top and bottom).
In these detail photos you get a sense of the decorative stitching done along the circumference of each small circle. I used a silver grey thread for all the grey circles, and blended in a complementary thread for each coloured block.
Last night I added fusible web to the back of 9 grey fabric strips, then cut out circles of varying sizes from each. I placed them on the panel, then decided I did need a wee bit of colour against the grey so I added just a few coloured circles in the background. I’ve pinned the circles in place; next I need to press them, then edge stitch using decorative stitches with contrasting thread.
The addition of the small circles pushes the large circles back, foregrounding the small circles. I’m hoping the addition of the bright narrow inner border with a wider outside medium grey will stabilize the whole panel. I’m also thinking I might add just one or two small circles through the borders as well – we’ll see.
With a healthy amount of rearranging of blocks I finally settled on this array and sewed the panel together. It always surprises me how different everything looks when it’s all sewn together. The joins are not perfect but they’re more than passable – always an accomplishment when sewing curves that have to join on the circumference. I’m also happy with the distribution of the grey background colour flow.
My next idea is to appliqué smaller grey circles (in three different sizes) randomly on top of these circles to break up the regularity of it all. I’ve selected 10 of the greys I used in the background, I cut 4″ x 15″ strips, now I have to apply fusible web (Pellon 805) to the back each, then cut out circles. My plan is to use bright threads to edge stitch these small circles in place.
I’ve also picked out a bright batik that echoes the range of colour in the panel to use for a narrow inner border, then add a medium dark grey wider outer border.
It’s taken me three days to sew all 70 Drunkard’s Path blocks. It’s a rather slow process – I mark the centre of each piece with a small cut, place the “L” piece on top of the quarter circle, match and pin the centres, then align the right end of the curve and pin it, finally I align the left end, carefully place it under the presser foot, and slowly stitch my way around the curve. Many people prefer having the quarter circle piece on top, but I find I can ease the curve together more easily when the “L” is on top.
This is not a typical Drunkard’s Path layout. I’ve picked up the blocks and tried arranging them in a different way, but I seem unable to do anything other than lay out the blocks in alternating circles! So alternating circles I guess it’s going to be!
I’ve moved blocks around playing with colour placement; this may be where I stop. Next step will be to create rows and finish assembling the quilt top.
I know I want an outer sashing, although I have no idea yet what colour to choose. That raises the question of whether I want narrow internal sashing around the blocks as well. I think not. The sashing will need to be in some strong colour with a grey border outside. I think a grey sashing would fight with the existing grey backgrounds; a colour will fence in everything.
I finally finished the quilt yesterday. It’s taken days to decide what to do within the narrow turquoise border. It was just a tad too wide to leave unquilted but too narrow to mirror the quilt block embroidery. I finally set up a half block I thought would work and got it done. Adding the hidden binding took little time (including the mitred corners). I hand stitched it down last night.
With the two previous Convergence quilts in my collection I will have three possible quilts to show together next summer. I may not use all of them, that depends on what I manage to create between now and then.
I’m happy with the appliqué work – the edge stitching is barely noticeable, you have to look very closely to see it. I like how it extends the bright colours to the the bottom right of the quilt without hitting you in the face, leaving the upper right corner the unadorned turquoise.
I’m also pleased that my extending the square into a rectangle worked. I might play with that again sometime.
Now onto a bunch of unfinished projects sitting in my studio needing attention. First the fleece pants for my friend Joan; next the Kantha jacket remodelling for my friend Marlene, third the stack of six unfinished zippered bags from nearly a year ago – I did two last week, I’ll finish the rest up in a few days. There’s an Heirloom sewing workshop on my calendar but I don’t think enough people have signed up for that – I still want to use the panel I made a month or so ago to complete a nightgown, so that’s also on my ToDo list.
When those projects are completed I want to move on to some new wall art – I’ve just lined up a second summer showing – this one in Truro – I’ll need six or so pieces to display. They won’t be hung, they have to be attached to something firm in order to “stand” on a wide shelf – either some foamcore board or thin plywood. I have no idea how I’ll do that yet, but I’ll figure something out.
Just finished the borders (with mitred corners) and I’m happy with the colour flow they provide. The hexagons bring out the hexagon blocks / the dropping dots showcase the dots within the panel – and the many fabric joins don’t show and when the borders are quilted they won’t catch the eye.
Next step: edge stitch the appliqué – I’m going to use a pale grey Invisifil thread which should disappear into the fabric. I wish I had a golden shade but I don’t and it doesn’t make sense to order one online (even on Amazon.ca the cost is prohibitive!). So, the pale grey it is with a 60 universal needle – very fine (which I have in my needle collection).