I finally had a little free time after all the design projects to fondle some actual fabric!! So I wanted to dive in immediately. So I get out my collection of “orphans”, these are shapes and templates left over from other projects which I file away in baggies for just such an opportunity. I peruse my collection to find the shapes that interest me and that I think will play nicely together.
This is when the play begins. I “Ouiji” the shapes around and let them start talking to each other. Eventually, a composition begins to settle in, but not until lots of options have been tried.
It is a stream-of-consciousness exercise as I listen to the conversation of shapes. I really enjoy this part of the process, as I have very little idea of where the shapes will take me. But part of the trick is starting with shapes that speak your language… shapes that are personally meaningful. You may have noticed that there are shapes that have become a regular part of my design vocabulary, spirals, dandelion leaves, bugs, blossoms, etc. These are motifs that I have collected over the years and that I can use in any combination. I am always on the look-out for new shapes that will work for me.
When the composition is finalized I make a tracing to record the arrangement and then applique each shape, starting with the back most pieces. Each piece gets finished with embroidery and the background behind it gets cut away. Then I pin baste with batting and backing.
The first quilting I always do is to outline each shape in the ditch with 12 wt. topstitching thread using my open- toed walking foot and a long stitch length. Each brand of 12 wt. thread gives a slightly different look and performs a little differently. For this outlining, Sew Sassy by Superior supplies the nice heavy outline that I really like.
Because I want these nice outlines to start and stop cleanly, the threads at the beginning and end of each stitched row must be tied and buried on the back side of the quilt. This job is made much easier using an easy-threading or self-threading needle. With these needles the threads simply snap into the eye from the top of the needle. This can be an extremely tedious job, but I love it… very meditative and also a nice time to listen to books-on-tape.
After the quilted outlines are done the other quilted details get filled in, like the extra stitching on the flowers and the echo quilting on the cloud.
In this case, I was not satisfied with basic quilting. The quilt was not dramatic enough, it needed some punch and “attitude”. So I decided to quilt over the whole piece with a series of spiky brambles. But first I needed a guide, so I drew the guidelines on Golden Threads tracing paper. The paper was pinned to the quilt and stitched through, again with 12 wt. thread.
The stitching perforates the paper, making it easy to tear away. Now I have a baseline to build from. I echo quilted very closely on either side. Then I added the brambles with a simple blind hem stitch. I think this final addition makes a world of difference. The final piece is 17.5″ X 19″.