Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Power And Glory: Part One

This is the story of one of my quilts.

In 2013 an album arrived at just the right time, with exactly the type of music I needed. It instantly made me happy every time I listened to it, and still does. That album was Gloryhammer's 'Tales From The Kingdom Of Fife'. It was brilliant cheesy power metal with just the right touch of seriousness to make it more epic than silly. Plus the singer wore green armour! Instant perfection. :D
So when Gloryhammer were announced for this year's 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise they were the one band out of all 40 I was hopping up and down excited for. I couldn't wait to see them play the album that had helped me get through the year. And they did not disappoint. I had to stay up until 5am to see their first show on the Pool Deck stage of The Majesty Of The Seas, and even though my body was screaming obscenities at me by then, it was very much worth it. I've seen a great deal of bands live, and the show those guys put on was just incredible, and one of the best I've ever seen. Epic in every sense of the word. And just so damn fun. That one band, on the first night, singlehandly made the whole cruise and trip to America worthwhile for me. I could have gone home happy right then.

I knew I needed to make a Gloryhammer quilt.

I'd been wanting to try my hand at a reverse applique quilt for a while, having been doing Alabama Chanin-style hand-sewing and reverse applique for most of last year (you can see some of my work here). So I thought it would be a good time to try it out for the Gloryhammer quilt. A mixture of my loves of quilting, handsewing and power metal, and designed completely by me.
My vision was actually pretty close to the end result.  Masculine charcoals and greys serving as a background for the Hammer Of Glory, which was in colours reminiscent of the album's cover.

I started out by drawing four block designs, all at a finished size of 12 inches(yes, I'm Australian but I quilt in inches because it's easier) which I intended to mix and match for the background.

My super-original designs. :P

After making up trial blocks, it soon became clear they'd create too much...noise in the background if I did more than one so I narrowed it down to just one of them which would be repeated, but turned around.

Eek! Numbers and scary stuff!
And then it was time for shopping. And for the fun part, putting my ideas to work!

Here's how the background turned out.

For the underneath layer that was going to be revealed when I cut the background layer away, I first sewed my blue fabric together in strips.

And then I cross-cut that piece into more strips and pieced them back together to create a strip-pieced kind of jigsaw puzzle.

My project stalled for a bit there because I was coming up to a scary bit so I procrastinated. But hey, I finished a whole different quilt-top while I was procrastinating so it's okay! :P
I'm no artist, and my drawing skills are pretty non-existent so to design a Hammer of Glory was a pretty big and scary task. I needed it to be all mine, so that the quilt was completely of me, meaning I couldn't just copy the Hammer from the CD's booklet and instead had to draw one up myself. I started looking at warhammers from games that I love (I'm usually an axe girl myself, but was actually using hammers as my main character in Dark Souls 2 at the time to get into the spirit of things) and pictures of them on the internet. In the end, I came up with this one:

After that, it was just a matter of putting all the layers together. I traced my Hammer onto freezer paper so I could stick it to the blue layer, and it would stay in place while I sewed around the outline a few times.

Here's where I was testing layout, and my first glimpse of how it would look in the end.

Once all the layers were sewn together (I went around the whole outline twice, almost a quarter inch from the Hammer template, to allow for when I eventually cut it out), it was time to make the back.
I ended up making two backs for the quilt because after I'd completed the first one, I didn't think it worked. It didn't have the same feel as the front of the quilt, so I kept it to use for something else and instead made a different back for the Gloryhammer quilt where I did a giant approximation of the block I'd used for the background on the quilt top, and built it out from there. I used some wizard, knight and dragon fabrics to give a nod to the epic cheesiness of the album.

Basting time!
I baste my quilts on my son's desk that is on casters, so I wheel it out of his room when I need it, and use bulldog clips to secure the quilt while I baste. Usually I watch a live music DVD, but this was a weekend, so I watched Mr. Strange play Dark Souls 2 instead.

At this point I was getting rather impatient, for two reasons. Firstly, because I still hadn't cut the background layer away to reveal the Hammer, so I wasn't even sure it had worked. And secondly, I'd decided I wanted to give the quilt to one of the Gloryhammer lads so I was fast running out of time as their Australian tour(which I was dubbing "Gloryhammer weekend" because we were sending the kids to my parents' and going to three shows) was approaching rapidly.

Okay, here ends part one (this post ended up being much fatter than I'd expected :P ), check back soon for part two which will be all about the quilting and the Hammer's big reveal....


Udpate: Part two is now up.

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