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Teaching Our Children To Bring Light

Teaching Our Children to Bring Light

As I was making Protective Instinct, a piece about sheltering our children from all the dangers in the world, I felt like the darkness was surrounding me and wanted to make a piece to combat those feelings. While I may want to protect my children from everything forever, I know that’s not possible and the best thing we can do is teach them to bring light to this dark world. To link the two pieces, I decided to use black and white with purple figures similar to those in the first piece. Instead of having the figures huddled in the corner, the figures in this piece would face the darkness.

I haven’t used paper piecing in years, but somehow, it felt right for this piece. I started with tracing paper the full size of the quilt (30″ x 30″) and created a design with rays from the bottom left to the top right. The fabrics would transition from white to black as they moved away from the figures. Each ray was assigned a letter A through E and each section in the ray got a number as well.

07 Full Template 04 Label Paper Piecing

I then selected fabrics for each piece in the template and pinned a piece of paper with the corresponding letter and number so I could start sewing. I didn’t want to cut the template, so I traced sections of the template onto another piece of tracing paper and used that as the paper piecing foundation.

09 Fabrics Labeled 10 Detail Fabrics Labeled 03 Paper Piecing

In this way, each section of the quilt top was sewn together right onto that tracing paper.

13 Paper Piecing 05 Paper Piecing White06 Paper Pieced Front

The sections were sewn together to complete the rays.

14 First Strip 15 Strip Sewn 16 Greys not right

17 Next strip 18 Next strip together 19 Two Strips

Once I had two of the rays together, I stepped back and realized that some of the gray fabrics weren’t quite right. So I replaced them with blacks that made the transition smoother.

24 Removing Gray 22 Change grey fabrics 23 Black replacing grat

That made it a little better, but not perfect. I decided to keep sewing the other rays to see how it would all come together.

26 New blacks 27 Third strip

29 Fourth strip 30 All strips

After I had all the rays on the design wall, I decided there were a few fabrics in the wrong place. So I did some more ripping out and replacing.

30 Replace Black 31 Replace black 32 Replace black

Once I was finally happy with the transition from white to black, I stitched the rays together. All the sections still had the paper backing, so it was time to carefully remove the paper without removing or loosening any of the stitching.

33 Replaced fabrics 34 Strips together 38 Paper off

Between all the scraps from the paper piecing and the paper from the back, it left a very large mess in my studio!

28 Lots of waste 39 Paper mess 40 Messy studio

But it also left me with the quilt top ready to go! I originally planned to use photo transfer paper, but the sample words I did were not fully transferring. I didn’t want to risk an incomplete transfer, so I went to Plan B: printing the words onto Extravorganza, a sheer fabric that can go through an inkjet printer.

41 Top without paper 01 Word Transfer

I thought that I would sew the words on first and then quilt the whole piece, but when I did a sample, I preferred the look of quilting first then adding the words. For the quilting, I decided to quilt half of the piece with white thread and the other half in black.

44 Words over or under quilting 46 Quilting

Once the whole piece was quilted, I decided which words would go where on the quilt. For the words in the darker areas of the quilt, I added a dark background so there wouldn’t be a bright white square around those words. I then pinned all the words in place and stitched around them in clear thread.

49 Words 50 Sew Words 62 TeachThemWords 51 Words Sewn

Next it was time to finish the edges of the quilt with a simple facing that wouldn’t distract from the piece.

53 Sew facing 54 Pin facing 55 Edges done

The last element was to add the people. First, I created the figures the same way I made those for the Protective Instinct piece. Some of the people for this piece were made while my son was taking a nap at my parents’ house!

20 Sewing People 21 People during Nap time 69 Stuff new people

Before I could attach them, however, I needed a platform they could stand on. So I made a small foam floor from one of the white fabrics.

52 Platform 56 Attach platform

And finally, it was time to pin and stitch the family in place.

57 Pin people 58 Sew feet 59 Sew people

And another piece in the Parenthood Series was complete! It’s hard to get a real feel for what the piece looks like through photos on the computer screen, but you can see this piece (and the rest of the series) in person at the Harrison Public Library through June 1! I hope you can make it.

60 TeachThem 61 TeachThemPeopleBack




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