It’s still hot. The calendar says tomorrow will be fall, but temperatures still reach 90 everyday.
Nonetheless, I have some pumpkins out in my house. I love the fall colors. Maybe it’s the vivid blue skies when the humidity drops, maybe it’s the complimentary colors of the turning leaves and that glorious atmosphere. I wince whenever Tess, our guild’s Challenge Queen, requires a bit of orange in a quilt, but I don’t know why. I could just always put a pumpkin in.
In recent years, I have collected pumpkins from other artists including needle-felted beauties by a north Ga artist, wooden pumpkins a friend made, and several pottery ones from Shelby West and Charlie Bob West. But many of my autumn decorations are of the fabric variety.
Fall Baskets was made in 2008, using autumn colors of batiks and quilting cottons. This may be the first quilt I designed using Electric Quilt software. Now using EQ7, I sometimes turn to this software to audition such quilt features as block size and width of borders and sashing. This one finished at 45″ square.
This Sunbonnet Sue piece is one of the first times I made one block ( 9″ x 12″) and said “done.” Quilting, a binding, and it’s a remarkably fun way to welcome the season. The block is from a book by Betty Alderman. I guess it’s unnecessary to point out that the apron is a little brown check.
I have a few quilts with pumpkins on them. Some wool appliqued pumpkins, some needleturn appliqued ones, and even this fused one (sorry, I don’t recall the name of this pattern or the designer).
My favorite fall quilt is Stella: Harvest Princess, finished in 2004. It uses raw edge techniques in the manner of Rosemay Eichorn. Fall motifs were cut from a commercial autumn print or two, pinned to a base fabric, and free motion quilted with a flannel layer as batting. The technique was fun, the motifs whimsical, and the learning process was transformative. I use this raw edge appliqué method still. Looking at this piece for the first time in almost a year, I wonder why I don’t play with those decorative stitches on my machine any more, or use metallic thread very often. It was FUN to do this experimentation. It measures 25” x 16”.
There is more to Stella’s story – there was quite a learning curve for this one. I saw the technique on Simply Quilts, bought a book by Rosemary and studied her technique, cut and pinned the raw edge motifs in the fall of 2003. Then it sat in a basket for almost a year, waiting for my free motion quilting skills to improve to the point of completion. Finally I dared to load the machine with some invisible thread and give it a go. When asked at my guild how long it took to make it, my answer then was, “a day and a half, or a year and a half, depending on how you look at it; actual construction time, or time from beginning the process to sewing on the label.” That’s often the most direct answer I can give. I work in spurts on some things.
A couple of years ago, Jim and I spent a lovely fall day in Porterdale, GA, where we saw hundreds of pumpkins for sale in and around an old jailhouse. I took many photos, planning to make a quilt someday called Pumpkins in the Jailhouse. Maybe this year will be the year that gets done.