Are you a quilt artist and often wonder how you could make your work stand out? You are not alone. Over the years I have struggled with a variety of technical challenges when considering showing my work. I am a textile artist and quilting techniques factors into this description.
As I consider entry into specific shows I always ensure I read the entry guidelines very carefully. At this time, quilt shows favor the quilting to be visible from both front and back. This rules out stretching the piece on a frame and finishing the back to obscure the stitching. What are our options? We can resort to a variety of finishes to ensure the quilt hangs straight and supports the overall presentation.
Adding a binding appears to be the first choice for quilters. I am not saying this is not a good way of finishing, but let’s face it (no pun intended!): A binding looks great on a functional quilt. It further supports the intended use and strengthens the outside edge. Overall it will prolong the life of the quilt. A narrow binding also works great on a well executed, traditional wall quilt, as it supports the intended presentation.
It is important to ensure that such a quilt has been squared to perfection. A trained eye immediately detects the smallest variance around the perimeter.
Before I move on to other finishing options I want to stress that the binding fabric must support the overall appearance of the quilt. Too much contrast will draw the eye away from the quilt itself. I opt to use a fabric that has already been introduced into the quilt top. This ensures that the binding does not compete with the actual quilt design.
Lastly I want to talk about the width of the binding. Over the years trends have changed. I have seen the traditional 1/4″ go to 1/2″ and even 3/4″ width. I am not making a sweeping statement that these are not acceptable. Depending on the quilt I have seen a wider binding successfully support the overall design. A wider binding becomes an issue when it concerns miniature quilts. Depending on quilt show guidelines, miniature quilts can be 24″ x 24″ or smaller. Now, imagine a 12″ square quilt with a 1/4″ binding. The 1/4″ width works well on a bed quilt, does it have a place on a miniature quilt? My personal experience favors a narrow binding, if I opt to add one at all. I have finished miniature quilts with 1/8″ binding, have presented it with a pillowcase turn, and I have even used a facing. All of these are acceptable ways to finish a work.
Today’s image features a miniature that is stretched and framed in shadowbox fashion. I have a series of ten (9″ x 12″) miniature quilts framed and ready for a show and sale in May. I would never enter these into juried or judged shows. I have completely obscured the back by covering the stretcher frame with fabric, making it impossible to evaluate the stitching.
I don’t see many quilts on stretcher frames, but lately I have to say that when I visit a fiber arts exhibition I am drawn more to quilted art when they are stretched. I realize that many of us enter quilted art into a variety of venues and don’t want to limit ourselves. However, as we progress and expand the body of work we produce, we can make educated choices. Why not create a quilt and stretch it, if it means crisp corners, straight edges and a piece that hangs completely straight. Such a piece will stand up against any painting! This is a consideration if you are targeting the art market and plan to enter mixed art competitions.
Stretched quilts may be framed. An art collector will take this into consideration. It may make or break a deal.
Not interested in breaking into the art scene but want to improve the appearance of your quilt? Explore the possibility of facings. I blogged about the technique last summer. Here is a recap of the post.
I finish my work with facings about 75 % of the time. The main reason for this is the way the work looks in a gallery. It hangs straight and does not curl in or out, no matter how much humidity the work is exposed to. Facings allow me to still roll up my work to pack in a suitcase. They reduce transportation and shipping cost. They store easier and adding a facing is less time consuming than stretching the work on a frame. And best of all: I can still enter them into a juried or judged quilt show, if I so desire.
This has become a rather lengthy post. I hope it as shed some light on adding a professional finish to your work. Feel free to weigh in with comments, suggestions and ideas that have worked well for you.