Monday, December 31, 2018

Caged Samurai



I'm a bit behind in posting some of my final finishes for 2018. We're currently traveling away from the boat, helping again with family medical issues and fitting in a few visits with friends here and there. Today I have a little free time to blog and show you Caged Samurai, a finish from late November/early December.

This UFO was pieced over the course of many months. The central panel is an odd, almost tattoo-like graphic fabric. It was part of some big batch of scraps that I bought on eBay several years ago. The warrior wields a sword and strikes a fierce pose! I immediately knew I wanted to set him behind thin strips, as if being seen through vertical bars. The purple bars and frame were stitched on, and then he sat for a long time. What do you do with this kind of piece? It certainly wasn't meant to be a charity quilt for a toddler!

At some other point, I was playing with some Asian-inspired fabric scraps and used Anita Grossman Solomon's technique to make square-in-a-squares. The little squares piled up, then ended up in a baggie in a drawer. Then some other scraps got stitched together into long columns of coins, and ended up in a different baggie.

One day, all those parts told me they would probably work together, with a little help. I added the panels of fabric on the left and right of Mr. Samurai to improve the proportions and stitched on the Anita squares. That seemed a bit dark, so I added a frame and border of bright white to contain the coin strips. Getting closer to just right!

He then waited quietly on a hanger as a UFO for quite a while. One day last month, he told me to use a purple binding as a final frame, and I knew Caged Samurai was ready to be quilted. After a bit of stitch in the ditch to stabilize and define the different areas, I enjoyed playing with several different motifs.

In the coins, I quilted easy wishbones. In the squares, I did a simple dot-to-dot design in the outer triangles, and a curvy orange peel inside the squares. I was inspired by Vicki's use of the latter motif, and used her technique of chanting "fat skinny fat skinny" to keep track of which way to curve next!

The side panels are too busy to see any quilting, so I cheated with stippling using dark purple thread. I think. I couldn't see a dang thing as I stitched, so I might have drawn the Mona Lisa in there for all I know.



Inside the "cage," I used this serpentine design just to add texture without obscuring the face. The bronze colored thread looks just right in here among all the metallic gold accents.



In the white column next to the Anita squares, I mimicked the shape with more dot-to-dot stitching. It's a little wonky, but I'm OK with that.



The outer borders required just a little marking. The motif is sinusoidal waves filled with serpentine echoing, which takes longer to type than it does to stitch!



I marked the curves lightly to make sure that they ended the way I wanted in the corners.



The transition around the corner from the thin side borders to the wider top and bottom borders took a little head scratching, but I'm happy with how it turned out. White thread on white fabric, plus a trip through the washer and dryer to crinkle up, hides a multitude of "creative" stitches.



The backing is this gray quasi-Asian newspaper fabric, plus chunks of other Asian inspired fabrics. I call it "quasi" because there seems to be nothing readable among all those characters. I have an app on my phone that can look at images and pick out words and numbers in any language, but it found nothing but a few numbers in this. So it seems to be just scribbles, which I suppose is better than rude words. The big advantage of this backing is it hides EVERYTHING. Highly recommended for trying new quilting motifs!

Many of these metallic fabrics were quite stiff, and I worried that the quilt would be uncomfortable. But it washed beautifully and became wonderfully drapey. In spite of his fierce appearance, Caged Samurai is quite a softy.

A few days after I finished the quilt, I learned that a friend was really struggling to recover from a car accident. Charles is a quirky, irreverent, funny guy and I knew immediately that Caged Samurai had found his forever home. I am happy to report that Charles loves this piece and tells me that not only has he always adored homemade quilts, but purple is his favorite color! I hope it brings him comfort and healing.

Linking up with Tish's UFO Busting party.

20 comments:

Jeri Dansky said...

How wonderful that this spectacular quilt found its perfect new home!

Mystic Quilter said...

Sorry to read about the family medical issue which you're dealing with, I'm thinking perhaps a similar situation to last time, I hope things settle down for you all soon.
On to The Caged Samurai, he looks a real character!! An inspired idea to set him behind bars and the border treatment is a winner. So good to read that your friend loves his quilt and I'm sure he will certainly find great comfort in being wrapped up in his quilt.

Fiona said...

I love that quilt.... it's just perfect use of that panel and the other fabrics and great that it has gone to just the right person for it. Hope the health issues sort out for you soon...
Best wishes for 2019

Hugz

JanineMarie said...

This is fascinating, Louise. I do have to admit that I wondered just who this might be for the whole time I was reading. It sounds like it was just made for its forever home even if you didn't know who that was when you made it. I like that!! I hope all is going well with your family support. Life just really throws the curve balls, doesn't it? I hope things will settle down for you in the new year.

Janice Holton said...

Oh I love your Samurai! So glad you had the perfect, quirky and irreverent recipient for it. :D

Lisa J. said...

Hi Louise: I hope the medical issues can resolve quickly. Not great circumstances but I am glad you found a home for the Samurai . Thanks for sharing all the photos of the quilting. It's very inspirational and I'm happy to hear that once the quilts are washed our quirky stitches disappear...more or less. All the best for 2019

piecefulwendy said...

Oh my, I love this quilt! What a fun process, and it's so cool when a quilt talks to you. How fun that all those separate blocks came together to finish this quilt. The best part is your thoughtfulness and giving nature as you share this quilt with a friend. I'm sure he will enjoy this quilt, and I hope he makes a quick recovery while resting with the quilt. Happy 2019 to you and Sean!

Vicki in MN said...

So glad the Terry Twist worked out for you to use and you executed it perfectly. Nice that you found someone that would appreciate it so much since you didn't know what you were going to do with it.

djquilting said...

Louise, love the Samurai quilt and the way that all the pieces and parts came together. Then the perfect recipient appeared! Happy 2019. Doris

LIttle Penguin Quilts said...

What a fun quilt, Louise! I love what you did to finish it, especially that cool curved quilting in the borders. I'm wondering if I could do that with my walking foot! The best part is that you found the perfect person for that quilt to go to. Happy New Year!

Val's Quilting Studio said...

SUch a fun, creative finish and love that it brought comfort to your friend. Your quilting on it was fantastic btw. :)

Nicki said...

Since the Caged Samurai does not seem to by your "typical" style of quilt I was wondering what you would eventually do with it. I was glad to hear that it was the perfect quilt for your friend who has a long struggle trying to recover from his car accident. It amazes me to hear how so many quilts were "just meant to be" for some people. Thanks for all you do for so many people.

Kate said...

What a fun quilt! You made very good use of that panel and all those scraps. Even better you found a great home for that unusual treasure. Hope you can get back to normal soon. Have a very Happy New Year!

KatieQ said...

What an amazing way to use such an unusual panel. I love that you were able to find the way to design the quilt by the way the fabrics spoke to you. When my fabrics speak, they make as much sense as the graphics of your quilt backing. Sounds like the quilt and its new owner are the perfect match. I hope you have smooth sailing in 2019.

joanne W said...

Great design. Thanks for describing how it evolved into this fine finish. Hope the family worries resolve.

Sandy Panagos said...

Thanks for sharing your process. I'm not patient enough to do some and put it aside for a while. I admire that! So glad you were ready with it for your friend. Glad he likes it!

Claudia said...

Louise, love the design story for this quilt! Your creativity is amazing. I would never had know what to do with the Samurai. So glad the quilt now has the perfect forever home. Hope the medical issues are soon resolved.

Tish Stemple said...

This is one of those times you really have to listen to the inner warrior of the quilt and let it do its thing :) Love the story behind this quilt and that it found it's perfect home...down to the purple. If you hadn't told the story of the quilt, I would have just assumed those SnS and coin blocks where pieced purposely for this quilt.

Cathy said...

OMG, this quilt is delicious on so many levels! What a serendipitous coming-together of random parts. The colors, themes and shapes are perfect. And then the quilting you added - just WOW. Truly the finished quilt is greater than the sum of its amazing parts. And it sounds that it was meant to be the comfort quilt for a friend. You go, girlfriend!

Sandra Walker said...

'drawn the Mona Lisa in there for all I know" made me LOL! "suppose it's just scribbles, which is better than rude words' Oh you crack me up. Thank you for this wonderful wonderful story (after my own heart) to this quilt. At first I thought it was a lion in the cage, and then when I clicked the photo and it enlarged I SAW him!! You've truly done him justice; I would not have kept him, but you have tamed him and found him the perfect home. Don't you love it when quilts talk to us? I know many many have done to me too. It's truly kismet from the caging to the coins and SiaS and purple binding. Love how you quilted it; thank you for the details (the sinus-whatsit waves remind me of Kathleen Quilts' onion peel design, which is harder to do than it looks. I missed Vicki's skinny/fat chant post, so will check that out.