There for a reason

This week I finished my hawk quilt. It’s been quilted, squared up and a facing added (instead of binding). Overall, this is a simple design; a bird on a branch. The fact that the hawk is 24″ tall is really where things got complicated. All said and done, I used 18 colors of thread to finish this piece. In my Paint with Thread classes, I teach the exact techniques that I used for this piece, except I significantly scale down the number of thread colors.

When I create my art quilts, I always use an oversized background fabric. Whenever you add heavy stitching (e.g., quilting or thread painting), the fabric pulls in and you wind up with a smaller piece than you started with. The amount of shrinkage correlates with how much stitching you add. At the end, I square things up, removing the excess fabric.

When I create, I go through various stages of anxiety. This is especially true when I’m creating for a deadline. Each step of the process supports the next, if anything goes wrong the outcome might lead to starting all over again. Hopefully, if the worse happens, I can develop plan B, but that’s not always the case.

Squaring up a quilt is anxiety provoking for me. At this stage of the process, starting over is not a welcome option. I realize the anxiety is helpful by making me hyper-alert and focused on the process so I do it correctly. Why? because if I do it wrong my rectangular quilt could wind up with obtuse angles versus right (90°) angles. Obtuse angles make the quilt look skewed and hang wonky or ruffly. I embrace the perfectionist in me during this process, because it will show if done wrong. I just have to remind myself to breathe, this anxiety is there for a reason.



  1. Martha Ginn says:

    He’s going to be so amazing (actually already is!) on display. I share your anxiety with the drawing up of thread painting. But being able to cut the main character (the hawk) from the backing and applying him to another background as I think you said you do is a real lifesaver. Do you use the same bobbin color throughout on a project like this? Nice work!

    • Nanette Zeller says:

      Thanks Martha! Yes, that’s what I do. Frequently, I’ll use my left over bobbin spools. So it’s not always the same color throughout, that’s the only reason I’ll change bobbin colors. Or if there’s pop-up bobbin threads are obvious.

  2. Michelle says:

    I always find your work amazing and inspiring! Your hawk is majestic!! The sharing of your creative process, including the anxiety, helps me to normalize and embrace my own on this creative journey! Love you, my friend!! 💜

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