Sunday, June 10, 2007

Shoddy Work?

Yesterday I finished the Orphan Train top. Woohoo. I'm quite pleased with it. Not the greatest photo in the world - that is a splash of sunshine on the log cabin zigzag blocks. This is about 66" x 69" and I'm not putting borders on it.

Sometime back Anonymous asked if my quilts were as shoddily constructed as Gwen Marston's. I've never been so lucky as to see Gwen Marston's work in person, but I'm sure that my quilts are far shoddier than hers. She actually measures (or at least says to in her books), which I rarely bother to do. I just slap things together. I get pleats and tucks and corners lopped off my stars:

I used this block, which was my first hand-piecing project. Since I had to cut it down some, I suspect I may lose some stitching. I didn't think to reinforce the seams until after I'd pieced it all together. I can do some repairs if the seams at the edges of the block come apart while I'm quilting it.

I love the three Mariner's Compass blocks that are in this top, but the reason I never finished that quilt was because the templates I traced from the book were inaccurate and the blocks seriously wobbled. So this quilt will undoubtedly wobble a bit.

So by Anonymous' standard am I shoddy? I'm sure I am. Depends on your definition of shoddy.

I consider my quilts uninhibited and carefree. They have all held together, no burst seams (except that darn Sunshine and Shadow which has poly-cotton fabric and thread with polyester batting) and no threads hanging off that look like you could tug them and bad things would happen. I've washed the quilts and they haven't fallen apart. That's not shoddy in my mind.

I was rereading a couple of early Joen Wolfram quilting books last night. I remember so admiring the quilts in them but now they look static and boring, no matter how colorful. I've greatly veered towards the asymmetrical and oddball, the imperfect and joyful.

I was inspired to go ahead and dig my orphan blocks back out and work on this quilt after getting the book Quilts by Paul D. Pilgrim: Blending the Old and the New by Gerald E Roy. The book shows 20 quilts made from purchased orphan blocks. In this quilt the blocks had fabric added where needed to make them the same size and then they were sashed:

This one is my favorite. Bigger chunks of fabric were added to get this puzzle together.
I love how the blocks were used without regard to perfection and pointy bits. The motif in the middle block just doesn't fit, but it's still so striking.

And on a final orphan block note, take a look at Quilting Twin Keryn's quilt top of crumbs and orphans. It is marvelous.

On the non-quilty side of life, Sweetie and I made it to Montmartre yesterday. I got us so close to the restaurant and yet I just couldn't find the right street. It had to be nearby - here's the seafood market where I took photos of snails... Took us a half hour of walking up and down streets and alleys before we finally found it. Lunch was delicious and well worth the wait.

I am such an idiot with directions. And my husband knows that, so why does he continue to trust me? I figure he's the bigger fool for trusting the idiot.

My husband finished rereading the first six Harry Potter books and has been moping. Not happy books. And now he has to wait for well over a month to get the next one. I'll start my reading soon. Right now the second movie is in the player - the mandrake roots are screaming. I don't need to rewatch this one; the Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite movie. And I need to rewatch the fourth one too to prep for the fifth movie. All this work we do for entertainment.

And speaking of entertainment, I am fully enjoying Kitchen Confidential. Definitely a series cut off before its time. The network only broadcast three or four episodes on tv, but more were made. What kind of chance is that to give a show?

I know some of you are cookbook obsessed. Have you been reading Ms Glaze's Pommes d'Amour? She's posting delicious recipes and now that she's not working at the meat station in the restaurant there aren't sad pictures of critters. I want to be her new best friend and recipe experimentee.


Kim West said...

That is a stunning quilt. I love the colors that you used.

I agree - shoddy is only when seams burst (I have made a few of those with my early quilts). Shoddy doesn't mean un-matching points, etc. The anonymous person sounds awfully like they are trying hard to become "quilt police" IMO.

I have re-read all the books again to refresh my memory on the Harry Potter books - I can't wait.

Donna said...

interesting idea to reflect upon what makes something "shoddy". For me, when someone calls something "shoddy" I think they're obssessing over the product instead fo the process -- Did the quilt maker have fun?, did/does hte recepient feel loved?, does the quilt do what it was intended to do (which I think is often to fill liesure time for the quilter)?

Shoddy refers to the speaker's negative judgement that the end product is not one she would make. I'm OK with that. She doesn't have to like my work (either artistically nor technique wise)! I didn't make the quilt for her pleasure but for mine and the recipient's.

Vicki W said...

The quilt turned out REALLY nice!

Fiona said...

All depends on your notion of perfection I suppose, personally I think imperfection is more interesting.

Joyce said...

Gwen Marston is my quilting idol (along with you, of course) and I feel really offended that her work is called shoddy. I haven'tseen any in person either but I don't call Liberated Quilting shoddy at all. Ann Onimous must be with the quilting police.

Anonymous said...

Your quilts are definitely not shoddy and I agree with joyce in that Gwen Marston is an amazing quilter! Her quilts are most definitely not shoddy and neither are the Gee's Bend quilts or the quilts of Anna Williams and countless vintage quilts made in the liberated style.

I've been re-reading all my Gwen Marston books these past few weeks and am totally taken with her ideas of free piecing. However, she also is an incredible quilter in the traditional range as well. Her books previous to the Liberated style ones show the most amazing piecing and quilting. She's really a all round quilter who can do any style she wants. She does say in her Liberated quilting books that she often uses only scissors to cut and doesn't worry about odd shaped patches.

I have come to believe that the liberated quilts are even more interesting to view than the traditional ones. In that vein, I've started doing some free piecing and I'm totally loving the spontaneous quality that keeps me interested throughout the process. Long live Liberated quilters!

Anonymous said...

Your orphan quilt came out wonderfully rich. I love the Antique Sampler too. It's the color that holds it together and the change in scale between the large center block and the asymetrical arrangement of smaller blocks around it give the composition life. Great! Thanks for sharing.

Quilts And Pieces said...

It turned out wonderful! I love it. And thanks for the link to Keryn's crumb and orphan quilt, I love it!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Incredible!!! I could never do anything like that, but I certainly admire those that can. It's stunning.

jovaliquilts said...

Whatever your style of piecing, you must be doing it ‘right’ because Orphan Train is just lovely! Those blocks are orphans no longer.

Quilting is about personal style. There are some quilts that need precision piecing to work and others that beg for a much freer approach. Van Gogh’s thick strokes and bold colors would look out of place on a Rembrandt painting, but that doesn’t mean Van Gogh wasn’t a great artist. I wouldn’t call Gwen Marston shoddy any more than I would say that about Van Gogh!

I do think there’s a difference between being free, playful, joyful and being lazy or careless, but we all make quilts for our own reasons and we get to decide how we make our quilts.

Juliann in WA said...

I love your philosophy about quilting and find it refreshing. I have take a 3 day workshop with Gwen Marsten and her work is also wonderful. She encouraged all of us to make it meaningful, to take risks, to enjoy the process. I really love those little pieces I made in her class. I need to remember to give myself some grace too. Thanks for the jump start.

Melinda said...

Gwen Marston was recently at our guild and taught two workshops and I was lucky enough to take both. She brought several of her quilts with her and there is nothing shoddy about her quilts. She calls her style liberated and I like that description very much. She does beautiful work and the quality is very high.

I can't imagine calling her work or yours shoddy - imaginative, colorful, liberated perhaps but certainly not shoddy.

Tazzie said...

I love love love the quilt top Tonya, the colours are just so striking. You are definitely the quilter I want to be!

QuiltMom said...

Hi Lucy,
You make beautiful quilts - they are not traditional but who says that it needs to conform to traditional designs or traditional rules of perfection. It certainly doesn't mean that your work is shoddy or less valuable- you use beautiful colors and combine interesting patterns-
I really enjoy your blog and appreciate your stories about life in Paris. Keep making your innovative quilts and sharing them-

Norma said...

I love the quilt..........and hate the "shoddy" thing. I also hate the "got to be perfect every seam lined up, points even" aspect of some people's idea of quilting. WE are human and human's make errors...........but they aren't errors unless we see them as errors!!! To me little things like this give a quilt its character. A quilt needs personality, people need personality..........if I want perfectly stitched quilt, I will buy one out of a package that a machine made! Shoddy..........oh dear what next? I love your appoach to quilting, you give back its life that the old make some money machine has taken from it the past few years.

atet said...

Tonya -- Orphan train is wonderful! Love the way this one has turned out.

As for the shoddy thing. Um, if it stays together and looks good, isn't that what counts? I mean, I've MADE a shoddy quilt (used really bad material -- thin, while cotton, not meant for quilting). And you know what? All of my seams lined up and followed the pattern precisely. Doesn't mean it isn't shoddy -- or that if I had it to do over again I wouldn't scream at my unknowing younger self to choose ANY other fabrics. God help the recipient if she ever chooses to wash that thing.

Your quilts are fun, playful, joyful expressions of yourself. Shoddy indeed. Humph.

Clare said...

You quilts are not shoddy. Mine are, but your's aren't! I love Orphan Train and am looking forward to seeing how you quilt it.

Unknown said...

Shoddy--what an interestingly loaded word. You handled that one very well. Applause here.

I have seen shoddy. That takes me back to a couple round robins I've participated in over the years, and is the reason why I am very selective about what I get involved in these days.

I'm all for precision piecing and quilting when it's called for. But I have seen alleged masterpiece-quality quilts that are static and B-O-R-I-N-G. Give me some improvised elements and a detail or two thrown in from left field any day of the week.

Holly said...

Wow Wow Wow to your quilt top! Absolutely marvelous.

Magpie Sue said...

Ditto on all the "shoddy" comments.

Ditto on how fabulous your quilt turned out.

Ditto on the poly-cotton blends in one of my first quilts coming apart at the seams.

I think it's interesting that Gerald Roy chose to use red for many of the compensating bits in the red and white and green sampler. No cowardice there!

All this input is making me rethink my plans for the collection of friendship blocks I received a couple of years ago...

Judy said...

Azkaban is also my favorite movie too! I need to listen to the book on tape before the next movie comes out and I don't think I can read the 6th book again yet. Too sad and depressing.

Great quilt...keep the sparkling touches of yellow and orange. it needs thsoe little sparkles to make it come to life.

Meeri said...

Colors in the quilt are awesome! I can't see any mistakes in the quilt, maybe I'm blind or something :D
Just beautiful. I'm at the moment in a quilting course, and our teacher is really neat, in her works. Every seam must be just properly etc. but as I've been in her course previously, she already knows me that I DO know how to make "perfect" work, but I'm not doing it as I don't enjoy doing quilts that way. I'm happy, she's happy :D

Laura said...

Wow what a great quilt! Anonymous does not sound like a fun quilter at all. I have seen a one woman show that Gwen put on with a bunch of her quilts. They were fabulous. Not only the design but the quilting.

jmb_craftypickle said...

I LOVE LOVE the Orphan Train...beautiful!!! Keep up with all the other extras too....I like the mixed one you were trying out on the next post!

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