Home is where the heart is and where I go to sew.
Summer as usual. Great classes at the workroom and my schedule is too busy to take one. Class in question this summer? Johanna Masko’s Machine Paper Foundation Piecing: Houses class. I’ve been meaning to make a wall hanging for home, (translation, smaller quilt project that can actually be finished and enjoyed in newly renovated apartment) and I’ve also been meaning to take one of Johanna’s classes. I keep daydreaming while reading Karyn’s blog, watching progress, enjoying the project sampler, dreaming of making my own house.
Weddings are also part of summer and I was looking forward to the wedding of my friend (and award-winning photographer, in case you need one) from college Karen, who lives in Brooklyn, NY. Originally from Montreal (we were immediate friends, both Canadians at RISD), Karen may soon be moving to LA. They’ll likely keep residences in both locations, as home is where the heart is.
While looking through their bridal registry, I realized that I really wanted to make them a wedding gift rather than buying one. I know their Brooklyn pad is small, so a full size quilt seemed neither practical nor realistic. Plus, if they are moving to LA, large objects are not ideal for transportation.
After a bit of thought, and growing jealousy as I saw students from Johanna’s class begin to construct their houses and landscapes, I realized that I could transfer my envy into a house of my own. A Brownstone, for Karen and Chandler, so that even if they move to LA, they can take a little piece of Brooklyn with them. Okay, so they don’t actually live in a Brownstone, but it is a beautiful building that called out to be drawn in fabric.
Here is the process of how this little building came to be. From Google maps, to drafting, fabric hunting, cutting, sewing, pressing and sewing again. Birds, flowers, windows and clouds all came together to make a one of a kind gift, a labour of love for my good friends. In my usual way, I paid great attention to the back as well as the front, drawing inspiration from the invitations for this personalized patchwork homage to their home.
Both tutorial and roadmap, may this journey inspire you to draw your own home in fabric.
Additional images can be found here. Enjoy.
Google Maps. Satellite. Perhaps the first useful reason to look up a friend’s home. The ability to retrieve many photographs of a building in another country, without having to send a friend into the street. For future reference, I did confirm with Karen that she did live in this building. Be aware, too many questions draws unnecessary suspicion.
I then sketched out a section of the building and used the handy dandy office photocopier to enlarge it to a reasonable ‘wall hanging’ size. From there, I taped it together and placed some graph paper on top. I am pleased to say I used the last giant piece of drafting paper I have held onto for decades. I never wanted to throw it out, knowing that one day, I’d actually use it. I am both glad I had it for this project, and glad it is out of my life. Storing rolls of paper is challenging.
I stopped at the workroom on the way home one night, to seek out the perfect stash of fabric for this project. Some sky, some brick, window materials and trim. I also asked a couple of unsuspecting crafters if this project seemed a bit crazy to take on, with less than a month until the wedding. They said yes. In retrospect, they were right, but I loved every minute of it, day and night.
Even though this piece will be wall art, I felt compelled to pre-wash all the fabrics with Soak. It was an Unleash kind of day. I am the one at the office who receives the calls when wall art quilt pieces suffer colour runs or other laundry crises, so always best to pre-wash.
First section first, a simple panel with some angles and sky. I wanted to ‘test the waters’ on this project. I realized, that unlike the formal class at the workroom, where paper piecing is an art form and each student’s house is the same size, I was drawing with fabric and my grids and graph paper were becoming more guides than gospel. As I completed the first panel, the project began to take on its own life and I became consumed.
The windows are my favourite part. I created tiny tuck pleats to replicate the panes of glass seen in the building. As I worked across the image, I took a break from bricks and windows to create the front entrance.
I made larger than life flower pots with liberty print flowers (what else?) and allowed the feature light bricks to become the focal point of the structure.
Since my satellite images blocked most of my view, I allowed myself creative freedom to imagine the building, or at least how the building might appear as if it were made of fabric. The castle top of the building proved great fun. An homage to my friend Katrina, I actually cut and measured exact squares with exact seam allowances so they’d be even.
When I finally finished the front, I realized I hadn’t yet considered the back. That same day, Karen’s wedding invitation arrived by post, providing inspiration for the back and finishing details. The shade of red and variety of prints in the invitation ( I LOVE envelope linings) sent me rummaging through my fabric stash in search of reds, dots and lines. I found the off-cuts of a quilt I made last year, pieces 6-12 inches wide from the trim of a patchwork back, in all shades of red. It was perfect.
Using my free-motion stitch regulator (thank you Ted) I named, dated and signed the quilt before assembling the various pieces of the back. It’s hard to see the writing, but that’s the point, I guess. It’s not obvious, you just need to know it’s there.
Once I finished the back, I pieced it with the front, batting et al.
I used my walking foot for most of the quilting, following the diagonal brick work designs of the original building and outlining some of the windows. I’m a bit addicted to stitching in the ditch. In my next project, I might purposefully avoid the ditch, in an uneven, asymmetrical kind of way. Once I had covered enough brickwork, I used the free-motion foot to embellish the lighter front of the building. I put the building number on the awning and swirled around until the fabric itself told me I was done.
I added some clouds to the sky and I was set.
I tried to find the perfect binding fabric and realized that the building needed to be a continuation of each pattern piece. The sky needed to continue and the building needed to continue. No framing necessary. I added three hanging ribbons along the top and sewed on the binding. I made a note to myself that I must either find my box of binding clips (clean my studio) or buy more. Random bobby pins will not cut it. It is worth noting though, that the paper clip worked shockingly well.
I’m giving them a Lantern Moon bamboo hanger as well. This is the kind I have at the office holding up another quilt. It’s my favorite. I don’t think it’s fair to give someone a hanging quilt without telling them how to hang it. Some people prefer invisible hangers, although upon investigation, I couldn’t find one that was both fantastic and readily available. I like this design, it matches the brickwork and hopefully Karen and Chandler’s home, be it in Brooklyn, LA or wherever their life takes them.