This quilt has been the banner of my blog for several years now and yet I don't think I ever got around to writing about it. The name is tacky, I know but could never think of a good name that fit. You'd think after the amount of work it took I would be willing to spend some time thinking of a better name but no... That's not the way I roll. (Scroll down for pictures)
I found the quilts of Deborah Kemball in an old issue of Quilter's Newsletter and completely fell in love with her style. It has such great movement and flows wonderfully from one design to the next. The applique looks organic and diverse and yet the actually pieces are very simple. I picked up her book Beautiful Botanical's and decided to create my own design using her technique. I can't tell you how many times I flipped through the book, I've nearly worn down the spine...
I started with the tree trunk in the corner. Not exactly sure what I was thinking at the time, perhaps that I would add larger corners so the design would be somewhat symmetrical, regardless, it got the ball rolling. From their I added the vines to get a feel for the overall flow of the piece. I wanted to recreate the feeling of movement I saw in Kemballs works and it's all in the vines. I thought they would be difficult to maneuver but because they are so thin and cut on the bias it was pretty easy to form the smooth rounding curves. After my vines were in place I started picking flower designs out to the book and spacing them somewhat evenly around the top one at a time, balancing large and small designs. I believe I started with the pomegranate looking things. Eventually I started drawing out my own flowers.
The applique along took over 4 years to complete. I took it with me on trips and to the hospital. I stitched along while watching countless movies and TV shows (I have no idea how many shows I watched in their entirety while working on this but I pretty sure Stargate is one of them and that's saying something). As the design grew I embroidered runners and embellishments to eat up a little of the emptiness. I eventually didn't know what else to add and that was that. I was done. Throughout the span of the project I completed my student teaching and senior recital, graduated from college, moved back to Washington, got my first teaching job, finished my first 2 years as an elementary music teacher, and taught myself how to free-motion quilt on both a domestic machine and a longarm. Four years is a long time.
At this point I was fairly confident in my free-motion skills but I had just purchased my longarm and didn't quite have the fluency on it to be comfortable quilting something so intricate (I'm not sure if I would feel confident now....) so I opted to quilt on a brand new Tula Pink Bernina B350 that I had borrowed from a friend and it was glorious. I traced around all of the appliqued design with ease and started filling in the background with dense McTavishing-esque swirls. I used 2 layers of batting, 1 cotton and 1 wool, to make the applique pop once the background was quilted down. I think it worked out beautifully.
After all was said and done bound it in a gold sateen and rested in on a banister for close to 6 months... Not the best decision I'll admit. Eventually I "hung" it on the wall with thumb tacks. I should probably come up with a better solution, but for now it works.
Here are some close up pictures of the quilt because if you are anything like me you are really only here for the pictures ;)
While quilting I added ghost images which replicated some of the applique motifs and, in the case of the gladiolas, took the place of the applique leaves.
I love quilting feathers and had to add them somewhere so they came off the vines.
The ladybugs were actually added after I finished the quilting... I forgot about some of the joins in vines and had to hide last minute them and a ladybug seemed like the perfect remedy. The details are drawn on in fine tip sharpie, hah!
After all is said and done I am so happy with how this project turned out. I love that I get to see it whenever I head to my sewing room. I should probably submit it to some type of quilt show someday...