Earth Stories: Sticking It Together

My continuing saga of how the Earth Stories quilts came together…

Once the pieces are trimmed, I iron them all together. I do this by putting the original drawing right-side up on the ironing board and putting an applique press sheet on top. You can see the lines through the sheet, so I pull the paper backing off the pieces one at a time, line them up, overlap them where necessary, and iron them down.

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On a quilt this big, I needed multiple sheets going at a time…the quilt is 72″ wide and the sheets aren’t.

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I try to iron big sections together, but not necessarily all the pieces. I need room for adjustment later when I go to iron it down to the background.

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When I have super-small pieces, like in the skeletons, I often don’t cut those pieces out until I’m ready to iron them. Otherwise, I lose them. I’m not sure WHERE I lose them…it’s like that extra sock you can never find. Sometimes I find them two quilts later, a randomly numbered piece that has no home. So sometimes during this stage I have to redraw and recut a missing piece.

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If I can get away with it, I just make a note about the missing piece…they often show up later in a different bin.

This section below has about 250 tiny pieces in it. It was a little crazy.

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Oh yeah. This was also crazy. There was a lot of crazy with this quilt. It might have been funny if it weren’t so crazy.

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Earth Mother’s face coming together…and her heart. Her heart didn’t turn out exactly like I wanted. I remembered that when I did the next heart.

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And here’s the main character in the dream bubble…

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I actually divided the sky in half, but ironed both halves on the same fabric…

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Did I mention crazy? This is corn. I’m not sure in the end product that it was worth the level of crazy that I drew, but there it is.

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You can see the little corn tassels and leaves above ready to be ironed. If you ever see this quilt in person, please appreciate the corn.

Then I pieced the (huge) background and laid it out on my entryway floor…which it filled. My mom’s entryway is bigger, so I have done this at her house too. If I ever move, I will need one big empty floor…

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I lay the pieces out on the background and make them fit together. This is sometimes a really long and painful process. The dream world bubble was all one piece at this point…much easier to deal with.

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You can see I had the Earth Mother figure divided into three main pieces…top, bottom, and belly.

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Here’s most of it in place. I iron it down, best I can on a lumpy tile floor…I just need it all to stick together long enough to get it to the ironing board. Did I mention this is 72″ square? Yeah.

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And then I transfer it to my ironing board and spray each section with water (hoping fabrics don’t run) and put the heat on for 30 seconds at least, trying to get all the layers to fuse down.

It took almost 31 hours to iron this sucker together. I worked from July 11-31. I should add that I was going through a significantly traumatic event while this was happening, so I know I wasn’t working very well or efficiently. Technically you’d call my mental state shock. So I guess I should be impressed that I can create anything while in shock, although this task is really just about getting it done, not about being creative. An assistant could probably do this part. I tried to concentrate on what I was doing to distract me from the other crap, but I had a really hard time doing that well. I really didn’t care if it got done or not, except that I had committed to make the quilt for the exhibit, and I’m usually pretty good about commitments like that. I’m not a flaky artist. So I did it. It was, honestly, something to do. It’s what I’ve been doing for the last 10 months…just making the art, even though it doesn’t feel good…there are other things that feel worse, and this seems to occasionally make me feel at peace…so I keep doing it.

But just looking at that piece lying on the floor brings back how awful I was feeling. I would get out of bed, trudge down the hallway, sigh deeply, and just keep going. Every day. That’s not a life. But it’s the life that birthed this quilt.

Next post, stitching it all together.

2 thoughts on “Earth Stories: Sticking It Together

  1. I am so inspired by this post. I don’t think I can handle a 72″ square quilt (even in the best of times!), but maybe I can pull out some wonder under and play on a smaller scale.


  2. My mouth dropped as I scrolled through and saw the pieces fit together….. it just got bigger and bigger…such detail…it looks wonderful…….you are a gifted lady. Am sorry to hear it marks a difficult time for you.


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