Back in December, I worked with a wonderful group of people at Temple Emanu-El of West Essex as they completed their semester of studying Psalms with an art project. Each person created a piece of fiber art which represented their favorite psalm or theme from the class. Over the last couple months, I sewed their artwork together into a piece of art which will hang on a wall in the synagogue.
The first task was to sew all their individual pieces so none of the elements in their fabric collages were lost while I worked. The fusible webbing we use in all my workshops is good, but when I’m making a permanent piece to display in a school or synagogue, I like to be extra safe and sew everything down with a buttonhole or zigzag stitch.
Next, we had to choose a layout. Some of the participants decided to take home their art pieces to finish them after the workshop and Susan Cosden, the Director of Congregational Learning, mailed them to me when she had everything back. There were 18 pieces, so we had a few options for layout.
We decided the three straight rows was best and then another block was returned to the synagogue, so a new layout was needed to accommodate it. I spoke with Susan about options and we decided to add a 20th block with text describing the project so it could be an even 5×4 grid (below left).
Next it was time to create the text block and sew all the rows together (above right), add a border (below left), and create a sandwich of the front and back with hanging tabs inserted carefully along the top (below right).
When I sewed the layers together and turned the piece right-side-out, however, it didn’t hang straight (below left). Something was off. I tried tweaking one side seam in the hopes that it would fix the problem, but it didn’t. So out came the seam ripper and I removed all the stitching around the edges, smoothed it out on the floor again, and carefully pinned it one more time. This time, the result was far better and the piece hung straight on the design wall (below right).
The piece has been shipped to the synagogue where it will be presented to the congregation at an upcoming Friday night service. I hope they enjoy it for years to come!