Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Quilt garden

This quilt has a long history. It started out at least 12 years ago. I had seen a quilt called “Leanne’s House” on an Australian site and thought it was lovely, with a combination of embroidery, appliqué and pieced blocks, but the colours weren’t quite “me”. Then I came across a booklet of garden themed embroidery patterns and decided to make my own. 

For years my take-along sewing to quilt meetings and such were these little patches backed with a thin layer of batting and embroidery floss in bright pastels. I was teased relentlessly about my never-ending work, but was determined to enjoy the process and not rush anything.

At the same time I was plotting and planning the layout of the quilt itself. I had originally planned on making 12 20” blocks, but after lots of revising and redrafting I ended up with a 9-block layout, making it a 60x60” square quilt. Once the embroidery blocks were finished I started on the appliqué and the same teasing ensued – what never ending quilt was I working on now? – nobody realized it was the same one! I plodded on and went along with the jokes on my behalf, but eventually I got to the point where all the appliqué was done and the piecing could begin. 

That part didn’t take that long, and using a drawing app on my iPad as a tool to keep track of what I had finished and what needed to be sewn next, I finished my nine blocks and put them together. I used fabric to match the floss I had used in the stitched blocks. 

The leftovers were pieced for the backing. I did a lot of freehand quilting in green rayon thread, making up patterns as I went along. After finishing it with a dark green binding I should have been done, but no, I wasn’t quite there yet.

Now on most of the quilts I have seen with stitchery on them, the stitchery-blocks have been left unquilted, but with my dense quilting on the rest of the quilt, this didn’t seem right, so I ended up adding some more stitches by hand. A scattering of seed stitches in cream floss on the cream coloured background gave just the effect I wanted, and I got there in the end. 

When I started this quilt I had my middle sister in mind. She’s a keen gardener and the theme seemed just right for her. However, her decorating style changed along the way, going into the gray and neutral spectrum and I began thinking that her tastes had changed so much that she wouldn’t like it. I needn’t have worried though: when she happened to see it while I was working on it this spring she jokingly said: “I hope that one’s for me!” Bingo! The surprise and joy when she opened her birthday present from me was really worth all the effort. It was hard to give away such a labour of love, but I know it has gone to the right home!

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