I love hanging out with creative types because you never know what will spring forth from their brains. At a recent meeting I saw the ultimate quilter’s holiday diorama.
The artist took an artificial foam pumpkin, cut off a third of it, lined it with sewing patterns, and decorated it for the holidays. There’s Christmas and Halloween/harvest quilts, two cats, baskets of yarn, fabrics, and sewing notions, a sewing machine, and even a cutting mat. The outside of the pumpkin is decorated with all sorts of charms, mostly skull related as the maker has a thing about them.
Man caves have nothing on quilters’ caves.
As I worked on a quilt called Kansas, the piece I wrote about here, I decided it really needed a river meandering through the fields with oxbows and other curvy features.
This is an aerial photo of the Kansas River in Geary County, Kansas. Locals call it the Kaw.
To create the river of my imagination, I laid a long, thin strip of tracing paper over the approximate center third of my top, and drew a curving line on it. Then, I cut along the line, put down the paper where I wanted my river to flow, and marked the line on the quilt with a blue, water erasable pen after I fused all the quilt layers together. Yes, I use fusible batting, Hobbs 80/20 fusible.
I ended up stitching over that line eight times with different blue-green thread, and even did bobbin stitching to emphasize the line. When it still didn’t stand out enough for me, I pulled out my paintstiks and a stencil brush, and got really emphatic.
The rest of the walking foot quilting is either straight lines to emulate plowed fields or curvy lines to follow the river. If you imagine the view from a plane flying over Kansas I think you might come up with something like this.
I think it needs a horizontal orientation to echo the shape of the state.
I knew I was in trouble when I saw more than five tops on my to-be-quilted list. And I cheat on that list as a series of small quilts aren’t even mentioned. There was nothing for it but to plunge into fitting up backs for my tops.
So my main quilting related activity over the past week has been piecing together backs. I did free motion quilt a small improv piece and a wall hanging, but I won’t continue to bore you with my FMQ travails except to say that the piece below quilted up problem-free and the other one didn’t.
Back to those backs, all but one is pieced as I like that look and I have very few large pieces of yardage. I even pieced a back for a top still on my design wall. I gave myself an extra scoop of coconut chocolate chunk ice cream for that bit of forward thinking.
To keep up the pressure on myself to get stuff finished, I’ve paired my tops with their backs and hung them in my fabric closet. That way every time I venture into my stash I’ll experience guilt about the unfinished stuff and start quilting instead of piecing. At least that’s the theory.
It’s really hard to see the quilting in most pictures of quilts, which is frustrating. I look for all the examples I can get as it’s the quilting that can take a quilt from fine to fabulous. Since I’m not even up to novice level at free motion quilting I’m always excited when I come across pictures of quilting that’s achievable with a walking foot. Thank you, Google and Bing image searches, and modern quilters who think straight lines are just fine. Of course, nothing beats seeing the quilts in person. I guess that’s why my quilting friends are always up for road trips to shows.
The quilt at the top was exhibited at FAVA in Oberlin, Ohio, this year. The picture shows only part of the quilt. The one on the bottom was featured on the Pink Chalk Fabrics blog.