Sunday, 4 January 2015

Talking Quilts

Wishes to my readers for a very good New Year.  I took time off in December to do some quilts for clients, do some organizing and cleaning (ugly word but nice results) and of course doing some quilting.

I finished a Christmas UFO from last year.  It was just a fun thing to do with leftover fabric.  I like to have something to play with on Hortense, my long arm, to see how certain things work and how I can bend functions to my own way and create designs.  I also added some beading which is a fun thing to do to jazz up a quilt or hide a mistake or misfit or whatever.
Actually it amazes me sometimes how fabric that on its own is not necessarily appealing can be changed by mixing it with something else.  The blue figured fabric was a Christmas one but not colours you normally associate with Christmas.  The red was not as rich as I like my reds but together they appear quite luxurious.  

After completing this UFO  I moved on to a talking quilt after finally digging out my cutting table.   Why I call it a talking quilt is because it has kept up a little conversation with me for years.  

When I lived in Ontario I used to go to a shop in Oakville called Jillybean's Pride.  When I needed to escape from a HIGH stress job I would take a day and go to a course in quilting.  I was not really a quilter but there were stirrings of interest and just relaxing with others who loved learning and loved fabric was worth a million dollars in relaxation.  Of course I started with a complex quilt (still not finished) and moved on through to this one that kept talking.  

The ladies who taught at the store had gorgeous quilts displayed and this quilt with  Chinese symbols was one of them.  It just called out to me, so in spite of my job I indulged in the quilt as a Block of the Month.  Well the job won out until I came to Nova Scotia and finally retired.  I had done 8 of the 12 blocks.  I hung them up hoping to quiet them from nagging me.  It did not help so they went into a see through box as part of an organization of to do's.  In spite of being one of many boxes they came to the top.  It must have been all that nagging they did.  But I had lost interest in the original design and some fabric had disappeared.

So, the blocks and I auditioned fabric in my stash.  And we found some.  It is very different from the original but I believe it works.  The original had light colours as borders, pale yellow in fact.  The blocks looked tired in their box but improved as they were sewn together and borders put on.  Here is the progression in pictures and of course the quilt began to chatter and be alive as the borders were added.  Quilts do talk as you work on them.

 First was a narrow black border which defined the blocks.  The blocks are so very different from each other. Then came a border with a fabric I really did not like after purchase but the colours blended with the reds in the blocks.  The blocks and I auditioned several fabrics (found some I had forgotten I had).
You can see the quilt become more alive with the red border that has golden medallions.  Then a 5 inch border of Oriental fans gave a completion to the quilt top.  

The blocks have stopped nagging but the quilt is asking when I will find time to do the quilting.  
The applique is up to 5 layers deep.  I do pick them complex.   This will take thought but in the meantime the quilt is not talking but shouting.  In spite of that I need to block out my desire to quilt and think about a pieced back; the type of batting (two layers?, wool?) and the quilting.  EQ is great for creating pieced backs and I have lots of the border fabrics left.

There is another reason to call this a talking quilt.  As I went about working on the quilt, I walked through memories of a lovely shop and the pleasure of escaping from care to the gorgeous fabrics and quilts all round on shelves and walls. Colour and texture, the feel of fabric, is a great pleasure.  The shop was always full of happy people with chatter from the class room and smiles where ever you looked.  I am glad this quilt has bridged my life and takes me back to happy memories.  It brings back friends and memories of learning the rudiments of quilting.  At the time I had no idea quilting would be such a big part of my life.  

So quilts do talk.  Not all set up the clamor this one did but I am glad it did.

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