Birds of Amicalola

On a recent visit to a train station and refurbished old store, I took my camera and a quilt.  Birds of Amicalola posed on a bench and in front of the weathered boards of Mildred’s Store.

The quilt is made using the same basket pattern I created for Miss Lily’s Baskets.  In this quilt, I used charm squares of Kaffe fabrics for the appliquéd baskets and Cherrywood hand-dyed blue fabric for the background.  I made a lot of these blocks (I still have quite a few left over for some yet unknown project) before deciding how to assemble them.

I had some bright fabric on hand that had birds flying all about vines and leaves.  Those birds said, “we want to fly amongst those baskets.”  And the leaves seemed perfect for the wreaths in the baskets of the three focus blocks, so I fussy cut the leaves and birds and attached those elements with the invisible basting stitch I had learned from Jude Hill.  When I quilted, I stitched those pieces down with free motion stitching before moving to the background quilting.

The quilt measures  51 ” x   58″ .  The background quilting was done using silk thread (100-weight) on top, two-ply cotton (50 weight) in the bobbin.  The vine in the border is quilted with 30-weight polyester thread.

 

 

Photos of this quilt in progress were included in the post here.  Oh, and we were on a trip to Amicalola Falls State Park when I added the birds and leaves to the basket blocks.  That’s the source of the title.

 

 

And here is a closeup of the vine stitched on the border.

And, and update to include a photo of the entire quilt.  Here it is hanging in our local guild’s show.  The ribbon is for Best Machine Quilting on a Home Machine.

Fern Fronds and Fibonacci


A historic covered bridge seemed the perfect backdrop for a quilt photo shoot.  On a beautiful spring day Jim and I loaded the car with a couple of cameras, a couple of tripods, and a couple of quilts.

This stop was at the Red Oak Covered Bridge near Woodbury (details and a map can be found here: http://www.exploregeorgia.org/listing/476-big-red-oak-covered-bridge).  The quilt you see is my Fern Fronds and Fibonacci quilt, made in 2007.  It finished at   56” x 61” and features a sunprinted image of an Australian Tree Fern (Cyathea cooperi ) which was growing in our backyard garden at the time.

Some of my first explorations into putting images onto cloth were through the process of sunprinting.  This predates the printing, painting, and dyeing I’ve been exploring more recently.

The life size image of the fern frond measures 29“ x 34“.  The turquoise and white blueprinted image needed some color to give the quilt a more spectacular “wow” factor, so I chose to include a variety of brightly colored fabrics in the border.

Many batiks were used, along with some fossil fern prints.  I still love that line of fabric, and continue to use them a lot.  They are soft and loosely woven, but to me this makes them turn easily for appliqué.

To create a unique border, I referred to the Fibonacci sequence – the infinite mathematical sequence 1,1, 2 ,3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34… .  Each term of the sequence (after the first two) is found by adding the preceeding two terms.  For those of you who want a math review:   t1 = 1, t2 = 1, tn+1 = tn + tn-1.  And the answer to the inevitable test question, “is it arithmetic, geometric, or neither?” can be found at the end of the post.

The Fibonacci sequence is found in the growth pattern and leaf structure of many plants, including ferns. Google will help you with more intense investigation if you want to pursue it.

To interpret this into my quilt, I made colored rectangles all 1” tall, but whose widths were 1”, 1”, 2”, 3”, 5”, etc.  To avoid single loooong bands of color, I did not use a length greater than the 34” (limiting myself by the dimension of the plant image itself), I just repeated that sequence in a spiral until I was satisfied with the look.


The woven ribbon portion of the border was a design taken from one of Sally Collins’ books.

I was very inexperienced with machine quilting at the time and didn’t feel confident stopping and starting at the edge of the design.  So I quilted the grid in the sunprinted space by hand.  Make that read BY HAND.  That pretreated fabric is more closely woven than your normal quilting cotton making this a less than pleasant experience.  I used Dream Cotton batting which is nice and thin and generally easy to quilt through.  But now I know that wool would be sweeter to needle.  I don’t think wool batting was widely available at that time.

Then I dared to freemotion quilt fern fronds in the border space.  I traced a section of the fern, transferred it to the fabric using a lightbox, then stitched with an invisible polyester thread.

As I write this, I am amazed at how much I’ve learned since that experience.  But even though it’s full of what many would see as mistakes; I love this quilt.  I still love the fern.  I love the unique opportunity to combine nature and mathematics in fabric, and I love that I’m still learning things about quilting.

At the time I printed this image, I made many more blueprint images of plants including multiples of this plant.  I love planning ways to include these fabric images in new projects.

Older posts with details of other quilts with sunprinted images are these:

http://sandygilreath.com/gbi-blues/,

http://sandygilreath.com/whats-in-a-name/ (this one had a sunprinted label)

http://sandygilreath.com/annie-maes-lace/

Answer to the math question:  neither.  Arithmetic sequences are generated by adding a fixed constant to one term to get to the next; geometric, by multiplying.  Neither is the case in this sequence.

The black & white photo with color accent is Jim’s darkroom magic.  The other photos are mine.  If you think the fern is blurry, it’s not the camera.  It’s the motion of the fern in the wind during the 15-minute sun exposure.

Diggin’ in the Dirt

With a fence full of flowers like these, is it any wonder that gardening and tools are in every room of my house?

I love diggin’ in the dirt this time of year.  My morning walk has me counting the hostas that have raised their heads above the soil line, inspecting the buds on young trees, and even pulling a few weeds here and there.  Dirt therapy has always been a good thing, but at our house we seem to be more immersed in the pleasure than some years.  Perhaps because we were traveling last spring and didn’t get to enjoy newly emerging growth in our yard we are appreciating it more now.  And the dogwoods and azaleas have never been prettier.

While in the sewing room today, I noticed that not only were digging implements under the needle of my sewing machine, but the design wall holding projects in progress has gardening as a theme, too.

The ongoing free motion quilting is on my version of Lisa Bonjean’s Primitive Garden.  It’s wool appliqué on cotton, including some flannel and some homespuns, too.

Primitive Garden is not the first time rakes have appeared on one of my quilts.  This little wall piece pictured above (Off to the Garden, 22″ x 21″) is one I quickly assembled when I bought my Bernina.  I was anxious to drop the feed dogs and quilt, so the appliqué is fused.  You won’t read that often here, as I prefer needle turn appliqué.  But on this occasion, fuse I did.  I added a cotton ball for the tail and danced with my sewing machine.  This wall hanging helps us welcome spring every year.

As usual, click on any image to enlarge and see details.