Just Grew, Like Topsy

I feel this way about some strips I sewed together after my strip paper piecing marathon. It seemed too much trouble to sort and return the strips to their bins so I joined them in groups of red, blue, and sort of magenta. For now it’s called “Primarily Color.”

StartPrimarily ColorTo brighten the units up I placed them on fat quarters of yellow and orange fabric. Then I tried to whittle them into shapes that were a bit more svelte.

PrimarilyColor1First I tried a color gradation with the background fabric. Nice idea but it didn’t work with the long strips.

PrimarilyColor2Then I tried bridging the stacks with strips.

PrimarilyColor3I dropped the bridges, connected the stacks more, and added more insets.

PrimarilyColor4The rotary cutter diet worked. The stacks now have waists.

I fused the units with Wonder Under to dark gray felt. From here my plan is to hand stitch, then trim the felt edges, and sew the whole thing to red felt with machine quilting.

That’s right – no batting. There will also be no binding as the edges of felt don’t need to be finished. I may do decorative edge stitching, depending on my mood. I saw an episode of Quilting Arts TV where Jamie Fingal showed how she uses felt instead of the usual stuff. I needed no convincing to adopt this short cut and hurried off to Joann’s to purchase wool blend felt that was on sale. Sorry, the craft felt won’t do.

Where does Topsy fit in? According to the Longman English Dictionary Online, Topsy is:

a small black girl character in the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1851-52) by Harriet Beecher Stowe. When somebody asks her whether she knows who made her (that is, whether she has heard of God), she replies “I expect I grow’d” (=grew). People say something “just grew, like Topsy” when they are talking about something whose real origin is not known or about something that has gradually become very large.

I can’t say this project is very large (I think it will finish at about 30 by 38 inches) but I can attest that its real origin isn’t known. Possibly my subconscious knows.


Filed under In Process

6 responses to “Just Grew, Like Topsy

  1. I’m with Melanie, I especially like the orange-y one on bottom left and how it looks like a ribbon twisting around.

  2. It’s so interesting to watch this evolve–I very much like the direction it’s going! You approach quilting so differently than I do–it’s sort of like living vicariously through you!

    • It’s one effect of hanging around art quilters who started off life as painters and had never used a sewing machine before. They don’t know there’s a usual way to sew stuff together; they just know what they want to make. Any method is fair game if it gets them there.

  3. I like seeing the evolution, but I’ll confess … I love the sculptural feel of the top picture and hoped you’d just attached them (somehow!) to the crumpled backing, just like that. I do like the way you’ve achieved a twisting sense in the skinny-waisted stacks. The one in the bottom picture on the lower left shows best what I mean. Gives a nice 3d effect.

    • Now that you mention it, I did consider a picket fence arrangement for a fleeting moment. However, the logistics quickly overcame me – stiffening, spacers, etc. If I were obsessive I would create another version of this and do what I didn’t do the first time. At present the strips are fused onto charcoal gray felt in two groups with curved outer edges. I’m adding black big stitches about a quarter inch out from the shapes, and plan to machine quilt the whole thing to red felt so the red shows around the edge. Of course, that’s always subject to change.

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