NOTE: Patricia Belyea is leading online Zoom workshops focusing on Creativity + Curves. To learn more +click here
By Patricia Belyea
WAUCONDA WA After I delivered my book manuscript, I was drained. It took me months to get back into the studio and create something new. The first intriguing quilt top I made was simple—a grid of blue yukata cotton squares with some inserted curved elements.
The most important aspect of the project was that I got started. I made SOMETHING. Not a masterpiece but it got me engaged in thinking of another way to play with quilt design.
So here’s what I've been up to for the last 15 months—Big Grids with Inserted Curves—leapfrogging from one idea to the next:
AN OPEN COURSE TO THE HEAVENS
This is Numero Uno—the first in the series. Note that the Inserted Curves land on the seams of the Big Grid. Someone mentioned that this quilt design looks like the universe—hence the name of the quilt.
HANAMI (FLOWER VIEWING)
The Inserted Curves of my second quilt top again land on the seam lines. This time the yukata cotton colors in the background contrast more—creating a checkerboard pattern in the Big Grid. Once there is stitching in the creamy white floral areas, the design will be more resolved.
There’s a saying in Japan: You can’t catch a catfish with a bottle gourd. Essentially this means that something just can’t be done. The Big Grid background of this quilt top is made with squares of indigo-over-dyed yukata cotton. Breakthrough—the Inserted Curves (bottle gourd shapes) float and don’t align with seams!
I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER AND EVER
The salmon-colored morning glory fabric in the Big Grid inspired this outrageous Inserted Curves design with infinity loops. I purposely drew the loops different sizes to avoid the proverbial question: What template did you use?
Two wonky circles transect the background squares of bold yukata cottons. Yes, I actually sewed the Big Grid together and then opened up the seams about 4 inches to tuck in the ends of each Inserted Curves segment.
I purchased four bolts of yukata cotton that surprised me. Only the first meter of each bolt was patterned (with a silkscreened motif) and the remaining yardage was solid colored. I made the Big Grid out of the solids and created a Venn-like diagram using the silkscreened iris for the Inserted Curves.
I made 11 circular patches to insert into this indigo-and-white-striped Big Grid. Using my editorial judgement, I stopped myself after I added just one Inserted Curves element! Once stitched, this uncomplicated quilt may be my favorite.
FLOWERS IN THE SKY
Flowers in the sky, in Japan, refers to the images a person sees with cataracts. Once I finished the Inserted Curves of the colorful central design, I knew I wanted something more. So I echoed the form with another floral shape plus leaves, and inserted them into the indigo-over-dyed Big Grid.
ROOM FOR ONE MORE
At Houston Quilt Market last year, I met Tina Hilton of Turtle Hand Batiks. Enthusiastic Tina sent me home with some of her global fabrics to try. This Inserted Curves quilt top is more sculptural in style. The theme comes from when I was pregnant with my second daughter, anticipating her arrival.
Both the yukata cottons in this Big Grid quilt top are from my private stash. I wanted just a touch of Inserted Curves, so I made skinny red lines for the curved forms. I almost added a large persimmon-colored circle to the top right quadrant. After a good night’s sleep, I changed my mind as I liked the integrity and motion of this composition.
FINISHING THE INSERTED CURVES SERIES
My vision is to create 21 quilts in this series. I look forward to seeing where my creative journey will take me and what the twenty-first quilt will look like!
Details for the finishing: backs will be made with yukata cottons, batting will be Hobbs Tuscany Silk, stitching will be by machine with the Baby Lock Sashiko 2 (it makes dashed stitches!) using Aurifil 12 wt. cotton thread.
When will I be finished? My estimate would be in two years.
MORE INSERTED CURVES! To see my progress on this project three months later +click here