Until I made my first quilt nearly twenty years ago, I only knew basting in reference to roasting turkeys. Now, of course, I know it to be the stitches that quickly and temporarily hold the layers of a quilt together. Weirdly, I really love the basting step. It is one of the only parts of my process that is fast and sloppy. Since adding piles of paint and gesso to my work, though, basting stitches are no longer practical and I have converted to a light-weight iron-on adhesive to serve the same purpose. I generally avoid adhesives and do not enjoy applying it as I do the stitches, but it gets the job done.  The backing, batting and top are now glued together into one big, soft sandwich.

Although I rely on adhesive to temporarily hold the layers together, I am still hand-stitching this piece into true quilt form. The full-body soreness of much of my process will slowly migrate to my fingertips alone as I force the needle repeatedly through the thick layers. I use a thimble when absolutely necessary, but generally prefer to use a sturdy fingernail instead.

After all my talk about French knots these last many weeks, I do not think they will actually make an appearance in this piece. I’ve realized it needs stitches that are rougher and rawer to relate back to the abandoned bathroom itself, rather than reinforcing the sweetness of the purple-and-pink fabric and piles of beads and candles. Because this is not a functional quilt and its structure is secured with adhesive, I can scatter the stitches willy-nilly with no care or concern for their density and consistency. I can apply them in a completely compositional manner, as an extra element to reward up-close inspection of the piece. Perhaps by tomorrow, their number will be great enough to warrant posting a picture.

Day Fifty-Six: Not French Knots | 2014 | Uncategorized