My most recent pictorial quilt was a departure for me in that my customer had definite ideas of what he wanted yet gave me full rein within those restrictions. He wanted a seascape, preferring an abstract but allowing for a few organic shapes. He wanted no defined picture – that is, no discernible top or bottom – but beyond that I was free to be creative. His mother’s clothes were mostly lovely pastels, knits, cottons, and linens, but with a smattering of almost every color one could ask for.
Creating the Picture
I had started on the upper right corner of the quilt and found that sewing together curved pieces of various fabrics had its problems – a bit of puckering that couldn’t be ironed out. Instead of undoing my mistakes, I decided to cover it up with hanging kelp. (I once did the same sort of repair while constructing a miniature house and was told by a contractor that this was often their solution to problems.)
When I use applique within a quilt, I prefer to satin stitch the edges rather than using a super glue that can’t be quilted. The picture below show a portion of the quilt during the design phase where I’ve pinned cut pieces to decide their placement.
I loved creating this work. After about a week or so of cutting small pieces and attaching them to my design wall, I thought this piece might well have been named “Currents,” for a definite flow had developed with the direction of the waves – almost beyond my control.
In the final design of the quilt, I subtracted distractions and finishing touches, repositioning the jellyfish, for instance, so that its ‘flow’ was in sync with the currents. I used fabric from several gorgeous dresses the mother had worn to the weddings of her children to construct the slightly hidden school of fish (as well as the jellyfish).
The outer border was constructed of denim cotton which I bought because I needed to use the mother’s clothes on other quilts. I chose an ornate luxurious quilting pattern (a Loricles ‘Cosmos’ template) for the quilting. For the backing I used a Japanese material showing stylized blue waves, as my customer loved Asian fabrics. The wave pattern was appropriate, of course, but the color matched as well.
When he received his quilt, my customer said, “The quilt is magnificent.” Every quilter out there knows how good it feels to hear those words.