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I recently worked on a King sized quilt top that was really fun to plan out and design. The client was quite easy going with the quilting to put on the top - but specified that a tree off center was to be a feature on the quilt. Usually a quilt top has blocks and boundaries to keep your design in line and contained. This one, I figured to be more of a modern landscape.
I planned to do organic flowing lines in the background with swirls to show movment. The bottom of the quilt, brown prints, indicated the ground, and so I quilted swirls, leaf shapes, pebbles and lines in a flowing, more dense design.
The spruce tree required a bit more planning and practiceI did a google image search - continuous line drawing – spruce tree; spruce tree drawings, etc. to come up with five or six images that I could play around with. I would sketch them out on a scrap piece of paper, and then decide if I could manage that type of sketch as a large scale drawing on a quilt. After analyzing and coming up with two designs that I thought would fit well with the fabric selections in the quilt top - I forwarded these two images to my client and had her choose what style she would prefer for the top. When that was decided, I did a little bit more sketching on my whiteboard and paper.
Next up, I had to estimate a scale for the quilt- off center and large enough to look like it was ‘part’ of the quilt. I actually laid out the quilt top on my floor and used string first and then painters’ tape to place an outline of the triangular shape and vertical trunk of the tree first. After a few shifts in location and sizes, I then added a few tape ‘branches’ to mark out the different layers of the branches. The tape worked well – but it does come off easily. I also used a marking pen to mark some of the branch layers
Quilting the tree was not as easy as I thought - after doing just a single outline, I realized that I would need to do a bit of thread ‘painting’ to give more texture. When doing this type of quilting, it is really important to step back a few feet as well, to get the whole picture of what the ‘painting’ looks like. I had to be careful not to do too much thread painting, to keep the quilt soft and pliable. Using the machine, my nose is often about 6-8 inches away from the quilt top – and so I see every. single. stitch. And that can make one a little neurotic. ;-)
Back of quilt - photo edited a lot to show the tree - the backing is actually a dark vivid orange.
The end result photos were really hard to capture the design and the texture - the backing colour was solid orange – anyone have tips on photographing orange? But I did want to share my thinking and quilting process with you - maybe it can help you in a future quilt. Some of the following photos have been edited, lightened, etc to show more detail of the stitching.
Batting - Quilter's Dream 100% cotton
Thread - Glide thread top, Wonderfil Decobob bobbin