My quilts design themselves. In a way, all of my creations do. That’s because much of my inspiration comes from the fabrics themselves. Well, sort of.
I make both functional and fine art, and the two often influence each other. This was certainly the case with my latest quilt, Lavender Morning.
A while back I showed you the stitch meditations I made during my jury-duty wait. One of them was a small olive and lavender piece. I really loved the way it looked.
When I went on immediately afterwards to make fourteen artsy pouches, I made one in a similar color combination. That was when I realized that I really needed to make a bigger art quilt using the same palette.
Last year, I made three quilts in a series I tentatively called “Color Explosion,” but later renamed “Colors of the Day.” I wanted to add one more piece to that series, and this color combination seemed just right.
I gathered the fabrics I had in those colors, and started playing. I lay them on my recently-excavated design carpet (did I mention cleaning up my sewing room at the end of last year?). Then I moved them around until I found a composition I was happy with:
I tried to listen to the fabrics. The ikat-like stripe on the bottom wanted a design companion, so I added a fissure on the left.
I then added one on the right, too, for balance. The light green fabric with the circles stood out to me, so I decided to make circles a central motif in this work. I played with filled and empty circles, trying to balance both the composition and the colors. Moving circles around took quite some time.
I settled on this:
For the previous quilts in this series, I mixed machine quilting with hand stitching. Choosing embroidery floss for the hand stitching part is always one of the activities I enjoy most!
When I hand stitch, I like incorporating Sashiko stitching. I often enjoy combining different kinds of stitches in my work. I don’t try to be perfect. I’m not a machine, and believe that it’s the imperfections of the human hand that give a piece character.
Some parts of the quilt, though, require machine quilting. Mostly parts where I want the fabric itself to shine, as machine stitching doesn’t “steal” the show the way hand quilting does.
Sometimes, though, things don’t work out the way I want them to. After thinking long and hard about how to stitch the upper part of this quilt, I decided to go with wavy lines, to continue playing with the circular theme. I used a dark purple thread, but it just didn’t look right…
And so, I spent an entire afternoon undoing the machine quilting (I don’t recommend doing much of that if you can help it! Tedious work…):
I replaced the wavy lines with zigzag stitches, in a lighter-colored lavender thread. Now the quilting was much less dominant:
At that point, the flowery fabric above asked for design companions, too. So the stitching on the left-most panel involved uneven flowers in three different greens:
It just so happened, that I had similar flowers blooming in my garden right then!
I used felt as batting for this quilt, and the top and back fabrics were rather thick. I also did a lot of spring fruit-tree pruning right around then, and ended up with rather sore hands. But I think it was worth it. Finally, the quilt was complete!