Pieced, Appliqued and Quilted
No. 140 on 200 Quilts List
This was the quilt top in April 2014, held aloft by my husband. Then it went AWOL for a while, as I’ve mentioned before.
Realizing it was do-or-die time, I printed out several of these “faded” photos to doodle on, to try out quilting. I thought about quilting it all in lines, a la “the hard-edge industrial look,” but I wanted it to represent garden, blossom, flower, soft, and fragrant more than I wanted it to look like it had been scraped by a saw. I’ve read lots of print articles about how to quilt a quilt. What they don’t tell you is that starting to quilt a quilt takes massive doses of courage. Gigantor-sized, even. Sketching it out helps me visualize what I’m doing and sparks that bit of courage to get going.
I have good success with Superior Threads’ line of threads called So Fine, but I filled in with Gutermann, which also works well for me. Yes, I kept filling bobbins to match all the quilting in the flower part of the quilt, but for the rest of the quilt, I used a neutral-colored Bottom Line (in this case, white) in the bobbin. Bobbin Statistic: 10 (in other words, how many bobbins it took to get this thing quilted)
Matching the colors, section by section. Where did I get this idea? Look on your iPhone home screen for the Photos button.
I needed to draw on the feathery components with my marker. That’s called Finding More Courage. I don’t know why I thought you had to just go at it without marking anything. Marking (in blue for longer time and purple for shorter time) is my new best friend. Just keep it away from the iron and out of the sun.
I loved seeing the quilting in the last light of day, the deep shadows calling the stitching into relief. Another Courage-Enhancer.
The last two pictures are shots taken outside, for its formal portrait.
The backing fabric is Wild Garden by Dan Bennett, for Rowan/Westminster Fibers. Now you can see my hanging system!
This quilt was a turning point for me, in terms of gaining skills for free-motion quilting. I learned about marking, about when to mark. I slowed down, remembering what my teacher this summer used to say when she’d watch me: “Elizabeth. Be more deliberate.” It helped to repeat that often as I stitched, and helped me avoid many of my earlier mistakes.
I learned to depend on the wisdom available through social media. Two quilters on IG, Linda, of Flourishing Palms and Leslie, of PlainandFancy were always there with tips and tricks. But without all the lovely likes and happy face-emoticons and positive comments from all the readers, I wouldn’t have been so courageous, I’m sure. It was if after every quilting session, all the fans in the bleachers around my sewing room would stand up and cheer me on. So gratifying, especially as I felt like I was on thin ice most of the time.
One day in the mail, a card arrived. It was my father’s stationary, my address written in his bold Montblanc pen, which in this note he called his Meisterstuck. My father has been one of my best cheering sections in my life, right along with my mother and my husband. I’ve written about my father before, his courage in renting himself a studio after he retired and pulling out paints and brushes, a good example to all his seven children. His brief, descriptive note now hangs near my sewing machine, reminding me that my work extends sometimes far beyond my little room, far beyond my own little place. And, on this day in December, I honor him: Happy 89th Birthday, Dad! You are a treasure.
Because of you, Dad, because of so many people, and because the creative urge is made manifest in me through quilting, Colorwheel Blossom is finished, and is hanging in my hallway. It’s a nice feeling to walk by, letting my fingers run across the soft trellising, the vines and flowers. It brings a smile to my face as I pass by this garden.