Indigo and Led Zeppelin

My son sent me the indigo dyed fabric in this quilt for my birthday. Oh happy day! The deep indigo color is so vibrant and rich – and from the little bit of dyeing I’ve done myself, I know that a blue like this takes multiple trips into the dye vat, and getting it so evenly dyed takes time and care. The fabric comes from a company in Japan, called Buaisou. From their website, I learned that traditionally the process of indigo dyeing was divided into separate specializations, but Buaisou does everything themselves – from cultivating the indigo, fermenting the leaves, designing their products and, of course, the actual dyeing. Their website is beautifully done and is worth the time to check it out:

I love it when the packaging is almost as pleasing as the product itself – and this one was a delight to open. I even tacked up the little 8″ x 10″ poster on the right (photo below) in my sewing room for inspiration. A friend of mine whose daughter-in-law is Japanese tells me the characters mean “indigo blue” and “flower”.

As you would expect, this fabric is more expensive than quilting cotton, so I knew I would need to come up with a small project, as I didn’t have a large quantity to work with. I hung the indigo from a door and let it live there while I thought about what I wanted to make with it – every time I walked in or out of my sewing room I gave it a little pet as I went by.

Lately I’ve been doing some curved piecing and also thinking about adding negative space to traditional blocks so thought maybe I could do something with both ideas. I first roughly sketched on paper, then used my Electric Quilt 8 design software to play around. EQ8 is good at allowing you to change colors and designs without redrawing from scratch – but the most important thing it did for me with this little quilt, is figure out fabric requirements. I wanted to end up with as little waste as possible – and by the time I finished cutting the indigo melons and circles, I only had a 4″ x 6″ piece left over. Below is my EQ8 rendering, and as you can tell it’s very close to the finished wall hanging – the main difference is the absence of the border. I decided to leave it off once I had pieced it all together – I liked the look of the design going right to the edge of the quilt.

I used Latifah Saafir’s 10″ clamshell ruler, “Clammy” to cut all the pieces – she also has a great website and tutorials for curved piecing should your interest lie in that direction. I highly recommend both her rulers and her website:

I have always wanted to try quilting words or quotes into a quilt, but frankly lacked confidence I could get it done legibly – and picking out mistakes would not be fun. And more importantly, I have never been inspired by any so-called inspirational quotes, therefore could never think of a saying worth quilting… Then I listened to my own heart and heard it singing rock ‘n roll lyrics – an object lesson in “do what moves you”! Thus I have combined a special fabric and Led Zeppelin lyrics – for me it really doesn’t get any better than that.

I pushed the contrast and shadows in the photos below so the quotes would be readable. In reality, they are legible, but also subtle. You might have to take a second look or a step closer to really see them well. I’m not sure it warrants a picture light hanging over it, but I think a small lamp sitting on the shelf below the quilt would cause the writing to be in relief and easily read. Just in case you can’t read the lettering, here’s what it says:

“And a new day will dawn for those who stand long, and the forest will echo with laughter.” Led Zeppelin from Stairway to Heaven, released 1971.

“For peace and trust can win the day, despite of all your losing.” Led Zeppelin from The Immigrant Song, released 1970.

I can’t even type those quotes without singing them in my head and humming the tune!

I practiced a crazy amount of times with the writing – both on paper to get the spacing and the size, then with several quilt sandwiches using scrap fabric to get the feel of moving the whole quilt around. I used my domestic machine to do the quilting and the writing, and I used two layers of cotton batting to increase the loft and make the wording stand out. The rest of the quilting is mostly filler designs meant to add texture but not to take away from the whole. The overall dimensions are roughly 33″ x 33″.

As I mentioned earlier, I liked the design going all the way to the edge of the wall hanging, so I didn’t want to add a frame by using traditional binding. Instead, I used a facing. This is the first time I’ve finished a quilt this way, but I will definitely use this method again. A facing is similar to a binding, in that it is a single fold long strip of fabric. It is sewn to the front of the piece, than folded over to the back and hand stitched down (which is why I don’t normally use this technique…) None of the facing shows from the front – pretty much like a facing in garment sewing actually. The triangles on the corners cover the ends of the facing strips so that no mitered corners are necessary. An added bonus with the triangles is that they can be used to hang the quilt – I have thumb tacks pushed into the triangles from the inside, then into the wall to hang this in my sewing room.

Somehow I deleted the other photo I took of the quilt back, without Frankie (the second Blue Beagle), but this one is cuter anyway and I think you can still see the facing just fine.

If you’re still reading at this point – thank you! I love my little birthday wall hanging, it brings me joy every time I look at it!

Happy quilting everyone!

3 thoughts on “Indigo and Led Zeppelin

  1. Absolutely gorgeous and a perfectly wonderful use of that fabric treasure! Wow! That indigo is so dark and rich and even! Definitely done by a master! Love those very special quotes made even more special by being in your own handwriting! Facing was a perfect choice and the quilting is wonderful as well! Superb!

  2. 99, So much to unpack from this blog post. Big shout out to my friend the TEXTILE ARTIST, you made this beautiful fabric truly sing – this is next level amazing! You are so right – the Buaisou website is smashing and I took the 2 minutes to watch how indigo is made – wow – just wow – I had no idea what it takes to make such a lovely color. 2. I’m still in awe of the writing you created from the domestic machine – I keep trying to visualize how you did that? Rock-on! 3. Do you have a picture of the project hanging on the wall to see the whole project, the close up shots are fabulous but I wanted a chance to step back and enjoy the whole visual. Xx, 29

  3. Never mind about the whole project pictures – I see them now – I was in a weird user agent – all good now. The quilt is just delightful – Robert and Jimmy would be thrilled! You should send a photo to their fan club 🙂

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