“Let Down Your Guard” is about the conscious decision we make to allow another person to get close. When we come into contact with other people, especially those who may look or act differently, it can be difficult to peel back the defenses we build and allow the other to see our true selves. This piece represents two people opening up to one another, slowly leaving space to let the other in. The dense stitching and layers of fencing and tulle in the bottom corners symbolizes our natural inclination to guard ourselves from anything new or potentially painful. As the piece moves to the center, however, the stitching becomes less dense leaving room for the other side’s lines to enter and the layers are pulled back showing the soft and vulnerable fabric beneath.
The piece started with a search for the right fabric and thread. I pulled out all my blue and green threads and created a small sample to see how each looked on the fabrics. It was a tough decision but I ended up choosing a variegated blue thread and a solid green. I thought I would need both variegated or both solid, but this seemed to be the best combination for the piece.
As always, I started by layering and pin basting the fabric and batting and then started free motion quilting from the bottom left corner of the blue side.
I cut it a little close with the blue thread and there was very little left on the spool when I was done. Maybe I should have selected a different thread, but this one was calling to me. When I moved to the green side, the tension was off and the top thread was pulled to the back. After some adjustments, everything worked again and both sides were quilted. For the free motion quilting, I started at the bottom corners with dense quilting and moved to the top center, creating more space between the lines as it moved up. This represents our tendency to be closed to people we’re meeting for the first time and the slow opening up to the other. Some quilting lines crossed over the center line to symbolize the willingness to learn about another person.
Next, I started to create layers that would be pulled back to show how we have to peel back our defenses in order to truly get to know another person. To get the layers of black tulle to stand out from the piece the way I wanted, I created small casings at the top and one side of the tulle and fed pieces of colored wire into them.
Once all four layers of tulle were wired and secured, I started cutting hardware cloth for the top layer.
I wasn’t sure exactly how to place the wire mesh so I tried it in a few different places and decided it should cover the full side and then be pulled back. It didn’t look right when placed lower on the piece.
Before I could attach the wire, though, I had to finish the edges. I considered a border or binding, but thought it would distract from the piece, so I turned the edges to the back and hand stitched them in place.
Now that I had the exact size of the piece and the wire cut the right size, I folded all the sharp edges back and folded the outside edges back so it would slip easily onto the piece. I then curled the wire so it would fit just under the layers of tulle.
The wire then slipped onto the quilted piece easily and I hand stitched it in place. The piece is now ready to hang and I hope it’s accepted into a local show that’s coming up this fall!