Friday, December 9, 2011

The Largest Thing I've Ever (Kindof) Made.

So.  This story is long, maybe, I think. But here goes.
Last year I was asked by my church (Redeemer Fellowship, holla), to sew Advent decorations for the sanctuary. 
The church is giant and beautiful and 122 years old, and I gleefully accepted, and then realized I had, like, three weeks.

Grand ideas for a massive, glorious, banner were made and then immediately scrapped; and what we ended up with was a 15 yd piece of the fakest polyester dupioni you've ever seen, hemmed on the sides and thrown over a rafter. I called it The Worm. It looked like a worm. A shiny, sparkly, purple worm. It was serviceable but unfortunate, and plans were made to try again this year.

And soooooooooooooo, fast forward to this August, and the wheels begin to turn again. This time, however, there was TIME and SKETCHES and DISCUSSION and MATH. The fuzzy ideas of the previous year came into focus, happily colliding with my newly found love for Korean patch work, pojagi, or, as I call my method, faux-jagi. My friend Alex mentioned in this blog post how she and I had started experimenting with the technique, using this tutorial by Victoria of The Silly BooDilly. 
So I wrote a proposal. And then ordered 6 bolts of shot cotton. And then waited for them to arrive. And then stared at them guiltily whilst I finished a few other projects. And then it began.
And I should say right now, the title of this post is misleading; I did not make this banner. I had so much help from other women in the church, many of whom I had never met before. We talked and we sewed and we cut and they ironed. Oh, how they ironed! Oh, how little I managed to iron! It was truly glorious. I asked them to sew the seams completely randomly, and then sew those pieces together randomly, and so on. There was no deliberating, no second-guessing, we just put it all together and let it happen. I was confident that it would be done-- only because at the end of the day, it wasn't in my hands, (my ridiculous, scattered, faulty hands); but it was guided by, and to the glory of Someone Much Bigger.  It was EXCITING, and it was AMBITIOUS, and it was PRETTY and we were OPTIMISTIC!  Anything, after all, was better than The Worm.
Near the end though, when I was constantly dragging 30 ft. lengths of patchwork around the house, sewing through the night, and seeing purple everywhere I looked, I began to get anxious. It all revolved around one issue: Would there be enough light? The whole point of all the Pojagi piecing was that light would shine through the thick seams to create one giant, glorious, abstract design. If there wasn't enough light, the whole thing would just look like a giant purple sheet. All of the work, all of the Fold-Stitch-Iron-Stitch-Repeat, it would all be INVISIBLE. I was terrified by the thought that it might just end up being The Worm's big brother.

The final day was spent frantically sewing, ironing, binding, and pinning. Brian was drafted and spent most of the day ironing, a service for which I will owe him for the rest of my life. It turns out, friends, that 60 ft. of anything? Is a LOT. I had three 60 ft. sections, each between 1.5 and 2 ft. wide, to sew together. And then bind. Not all of which, of course, managed to happen, but eventually it HAD TO GO UP.  The last half-hour of sewing was not pretty, my friends. But I gathered up my giant pile of banner and wrestled it into the car in a giant heap that I couldn't see over. When we arrived at the church, I spent ten minutes pulling pins out of the unfinished bits, and praying that the height would hide the many (MANY) unfinished edges. I was tired and unbathed and hungry and WEEPY. And then it went up.



Light, dude. Providence.





26 comments:

Coujones said...

It looks amazing!

mjb said...

This is so beautiful! I love that you were able to contribute something that will be used in worship.

Carla said...

Wowsers, Lauren! The pictures are incredible so I can only imagine how lovely it is in "real life"....definitely guided from Above. Congratulations on following your "gut" on this wonderful project.

beth lehman said...

lauren - what a great idea - i bet it's amazing - shot cotton really works with that pajogi... i would really like to try something on a smaller scale!

Lesly said...

That is spectacular! The best Christmas decoration I've seen!

Shea said...

Lauren! Are you kidding me?!
I had heard you talk about this massive project and knew you were hard at work, but WOW.
I am speechless and I've only seen the photographs.

I can only imagine the twinkle in your eye as you sit in church, below that beautiful creation.

Wonderful work, friend!

Mary Anne said...

Wow! What an amazing community project - you all will remember this for a very, very long time!

Rebekah said...

Amazing! It's gorgeous...so many seams!

I love seeing modern textiles used in churches!

craftytammie said...

i was a little baffled by your example at guild last week, (umm, why is there a flashlight?!) not really seeing where you were going with this. but now - i totally get it. it's amazing. and i'd like one for my patio, please.

Kim Eichler-Messmer said...

It is so beautiful! And big! Nice work, Lauren.

Andrea said...

It is gorgeous. I bet it looks stunning in person. Your blog post was wonderful, it had tension, conflict and suspense it. ;-) I'm thankful for the happy ending!

Marilyn said...

Truly glorious, Lauren--the most incredible Advent visual art I've ever seen! Thanks so much for sharing your photos and story!!

teaginny said...

It looks completely amazing. Masterpiece!!

Kate said...

Ummm, hell to the yeah. You are made of win.

Unknown said...

Simply beautiful!

Kristin said...

It's spectacular. Just like you. (And is that Kona Cotton? What colors? I love them all.)

samandpeteVDP said...

I'm new to your blog, and I'm so very glad I stopped by. This is absolutely gorgeous. The light is perfect. Really inspiring, and simply stunning!

ScrappyStuff said...

Total Awesomeness!!! When are services!

felicity said...

Completely and utterly beautiful. Nicely done. On this and also avoiding a lot of ironing!

Esch House Quilts said...

Just stunning, Lauren! Congratulations to you and your team.

Melissa said...

Absolutely beautiful! Such a huge undertaking with stunning results. You and your team should be very proud!

betsy and emily said...

That's gorgeous! Way to be the best sewist ever!

Rebecca said...

beautiful! it's amazing to see a project that is totally done randomly have such a cohesive effect...and that the whole community got to be involved in putting it together.

Jen Petersen said...

This is amazing! I co-pastor a small church with my husband, which is full of artists - I appreciate the banners and liturgical colors coming from the body. It's beautiful and plays nicely on the playground with the beautiful architecture of the church building itself. Well done.

Kat said...

Lauren it is SO beautiful! You and your ladies did a wonderful job. Sounds like I should never complain about something being big and hard to handle again. I don't even know big!

Ps...I haven't cut my hair yet!

Oil Cloth Junkie said...

Oh my goodness, that is just beautiful!! You and your cohorts should be so proud of yourselves and all your hard work. (and the just the idea of wrangling all that fabric makes me kind of itchy and weepy so you've got extra points in my book for actually doing it ;)