Hat on Top, Coat Below


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Done and Fun

July 21, 2008

Longtime readers may recognize this quilt: it’s Skiing in the Trees, which I started in August, 2005 as part of the Modern Quilt-Along. Early on, I made steady progress on it, finishing the top and the back by mid-September of that year, at which time I wrote that the top and back were “going to sit for a while”. That while turned out to be almost three years, but once I got back to it, progress was pretty swift. I basted the layers together two weekends ago and put the last stitches in the sleeve yesterday. (I still need to make a label, but I’m planning to wait until I have another one to do so I can make more efficient use of the printer fabric sheet.) I’m not sure what purpose the waiting served; the quilting design I used is pretty much the first idea that came to me in 2005—flowing lines going from left to right (or right to left, depending on which side was easier to start with). The lines remind me of the tracks in the snow left by skiers going through the snow. I was careful to avoid quilting through the branches, because it’s best to ski between the trees and not right over them. I used six or seven different threads to do the quilting, ranging from white rayon through sparkly silvery metallics to blue rayon. I generally used the lighter values of thread at the top and the darker at the bottom, similar to how I arranged the blocks. I’m pretty pleased with the overall effect.

The motivating factor that finally got me to finish this up was FunQuilts coming to speak to our guild this month. When I saw that on the schedule earlier this year, I figured that was a sign from the universe; it would be great to have this quilt done for show and tell after the lecture. I figured it would be even greater to take one of the classes they were doing that weekend as well, so I took that Friday off so I could be in The Role of Color in Your Quilts session. Given that choosing colors and fabrics is my favorite part of the quiltmaking process, one I’ve read a lot about and taken other classes on and feel pretty confident in my ability to do, I wondered how much I’d get out of this class but figured at the worst I’d get to spend a day thinking about and doing things I liked. I got so much more than ever expected—the class was excellent. I wasn’t sure ahead of time which half of the FunQuilts duo would be giving the class; it turned out to be Bill Kerr (the first thing I learned is that his last name is pronounced “cur” like the first part of “current”, not “care” like the guy I used to work with who had the same last name). Before class started, I had the skiing quilt folded in front of me and was snipping stray thread ends (I’d finished the binding just that morning and hadn’t had a chance to clean it up yet) and wondering when the best time to show it to him would be when he finished a conversation with another student, recognized the pattern from the little section that was visible, and came over to see it. I basked in his comments and then it was time for class to start. The day was a good mix of lecture and hands on explorations, with illustrations from other disciplines in art and design besides quilting, though there were plenty of quilting examples as well. We even got a sneak peek of their new fabric line. I already knew a lot about combining fabrics, but I learned so much more throughout the day. The first exercise involved interpreting a painting in fabric, which was fun if a bit frustrating, but I especially liked the second task in which each student got a pair of prints to combine with other fabrics into a 5 x 5 grid. The pairs of prints were nothing we would have ever picked to go together; I got a green, lime, and brown graphic wavy stripe and a delicate, painterly pink and tan floral. It was very interesting to see what everyone did with their pairs and hear Bill talk through each of the combinations and point out what worked and why. I found the whole experience very energizing. As we were packing up after class, the other half of FunQuilts stopped in and I was fortunate enough to be able to show my quilt to Weeks Ringle as well. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

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