Hi, welcome to String Revolution. I'm Léan, I live in Dublin with my husband and two little boys, and I am a dangerous stringy subversive.
My job is to radiate my creative truth, and to help you radiate yours. I create, without exception, every day. I write here when I have something to say.

(learn more about me).

Quilt: Root & Branch

Quilt detail

It is difficult to exaggerate how much I have been not posting here this month.

Yes, my friends. Whereas you might have thought I merely haven’t been posting, in fact I have been actively and positively not posting.

I have a problem.

It’s about visibility.

It’s about showing my process.

It’s about some very old fears and monsters.

Quilt inna bag

It’s about … oh, all right, it’s about this quilt, which I made for an exhibition and delivered last weekend. (That’s the bag I whizzed up for it on the morning of the deadline. It’s in there, all swaddled in tissue paper.)

Here’s my problem:

I love this quilt. I think it’s utterly fabulous. Looking at it, running my fingers over its seams and stitching, squeezing its squashy bits, makes me dissolve into a shimmering puddle of pride and happiness.

So obviously, I haven’t been able to tell you about it.

Observe!

I didn’t write a post when I was laying out the sky.

Quilt: sky layout

I didn’t write a post when I finished piecing the background.

Quilt: background all pieced

I didn’t write a post after I finished the quilting and put the borders on.

Quilt: borders attached

I didn’t write a post when I’d added the binding and placed the window.

Quilt: bound, with window

I didn’t write a post after I’d sewn on the stems.

Quilt: close-up of stems

In fact, I didn’t even write a post when it was all finished and delivered; instead, I waited until today, five days later.

The Revolutionary Horde: Bzuh? What gives?
Me: I know!

I suppose some small aspect of me has been grappling with the very straightforward, very tedious fear that you’ll think the quilt is stupid and ugly – and that therefore, I (by induction, right?) am stupid and ugly.

Yeah.

I’m clear-headed enough to know that this is premium-grade monster-twaddle – and indeed, that if you were the kind of person who would ever think that way, I wouldn’t want anything to do with you.

You’re not, of course. And that doesn’t solve my problem.

Because, you see, it’s the other aspects that have caused the real trouble. The voices that insist I’m too much, that I’ve done something too impressive, that having done it is bad enough without also wanting to open my big unnecessary mouth and talk about it. How boastful. How inconsiderate.

And by the same token, how insufferable even to be thinking in these terms – as if what I’d done was somehow exceptional. Ugh.

Sometimes it’s rather lonely, being me.

But enough misery!

Here – here, at last! – is my beautiful quilt, in all its glory!

SR-20110331-7

Vital statistics:

  • 79cm wide by 98cm high. (That’s 31″ by 38.5″, for inchmongers.)
  • 100% cotton (including wadding). Oh – apart from a tiny bit of metallic thread where the sun hits the sea.
  • Machine-pieced and machine-quilted, stems hand-appliquéd.
  • Took me somewhere around 56 hours to make, from start to finish, including design.

It’s called Root & Branch, and I made it for the Irish Patchwork Society Eastern Branch exhibition, which will be held in Dalkey at the end of April.

(If my quilt is one of those chosen to go on to the Society’s annual National Exhibition in July, it also has a shot at being shown at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham in August, and the Knitting and Stitching Show in Dublin in November. The glitz of that might well prove fatal. I’m just saying.)

The prescribed theme was “Branching Out”, and I started with the idea of a ruined church window with a plant climbing all around it.

As I made the quilt, I found myself thinking about new growing from old – old structures and patterns ceding to new ones – ruin and regrowth – “branching out” in the sense of progress, moving into new territory.

So as well as what I put in the picture, I used a combination of traditional methods (e.g. the square patches that make up the sky, the foundation-pieced sun) and contemporary methods (e.g. the dense free-motion quilting on the mountain and sun rays, the three-dimensional appliqué for the plant).

My favourite bits are the flower centres. Some of them are a bit bocketty here and there (haring through 15 of them at 2:30 a.m. on the day of the deadline will do that), but they’re fat and round and oh so pleasing to pinch.

SR-20110331-8

I poured my heart into this piece. It’s by no means perfect, but it’s as good as I could make it with my current skills and resources, and I’m intensely delighted to have brought it safely out of my head and into the world.

Thanks, beloved readers, for your patience. Perhaps next time I’m working on something this close to me, I’ll figure out a comfortable way to talk about it too!

19 comments to Quilt: Root & Branch

  • Léan! What a wonderful piece! Thank you for documenting the process, even if you couldn’t share as you went along. It’s nice to see it coming together in this recap post.
    Your design reminds me of an old church not far from where I lived about 15 years ago. The church had burnt down in the ’50s or ’60s, but its stone walls were still standing. Through the windows and over the walls, we could see trees growing inside. I loved seeing how life was growing back and taking its place again, in a new way, in that church.

  • Beeyootiful! Congratulations! With each photo, I said, “ooo!” and “nice!” and “great!” and “wow!”

    (And have you been to the Festival of Quilts yet? If not, you must come! It will blow your mind. And, we will meet up and have cappuccino and retail therapy together.)

  • Kat

    Oh my goodness it’s absolutely beautiful. I’m utterly in awe.

  • Oh. My. God. Is it for sale? Oh. My. God.

    Oh my actual god.

  • Oh wow, that is gorgeous! I thought it looked great even before you added the tree and the branches. Even if you didn’t post about it before, thanks for showing us the whole process.

    I have a long way to go…

  • Martin DeMello

    OMG, that’s a gorgeous quilt!

  • I am rooting for you (pun inevitable) to find the comfortable way to share your work as it unfolds, and at the same time, I love the watch-me-pull-a-rabbit-out-of-this-hat!-ness of seeing the unfoldment all at once along with the finished piece. It’s sooo dreamily mesmerizing, I wish I could stand right in front of it and soak it all in. Hooray for being done!

  • It is beautiful. And I notice that although you did not post any in-progress blog posts, you did take in-progress photos. This is not insignificant. Somewhere in there you knew that it was important to document that bit.

    Thanks for giving us that story and photos now.

  • I know exactly what you mean about not being able to post about things that are too big, too impressive, too personal. I do the same thing. But well done on squeezing out this clever not-a-post to tell us about it.

    The quilt is glorious. It is stupendous. I’m in awe. It’s beautiful and inspiring. Thankyou for making it, and thankyou for sharing it 🙂

  • You have every reason to love this quilt. It is absolutely beautiful.. Fab (And I also love its bag)

  • Jess

    That is just exquisite. Wow.

  • That’s just beautiful!

  • Miche

    That is beautiful, clever and very well-made.

    And so, by induction, are you.

  • I love all of it, specially the curlicue viney ends with the flowers.
    If you need to work on it without showing us, and then make a composite post once the whole thing is finished, then that’s how it works for you.
    I too, am inclined to not show a partly done thing, and then to reveal it all once finished (with or without a step by step of how I got there).
    Brilliant, beautiful work. Brilliant beautiful you 🙂 Hurrah!

  • OMG. It is gorgeous. I am in awe. It *is* art.

    I’m not sure that the process of talking about it while in progress is compatible with the process of creating it, neurologically speaking. (That is, I think if you talk about it or try to explain it while making it; it will change. Your words will make you see it differently or bind it all up in linguistics rather than the vision and emotion.)

    And besides, the dramatic unveiling was just astounding 🙂

  • Helen

    Utterly gorgeous, Léan!

  • Love this! Love the process pieces, cos it made me appreciate all sorts of details that I would never have seen if I had looked at the finished quilt! I thought it was gorgeous just with the sun and window and then when you added the flowers and vine, OH MY!! that’s so lovely!!

  • leannich

    Thank you, lovely people!

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