Tuesday, March 1, 2016


I recently was asked by a dear friend to quilt her bargello quilt from a class she took.  She used great autumn colors as well as prints with leaves and nature motifs to establish a theme in her project.  When we got to discussing quilt designs, she knew she wanted whimsy, but also wanted to incorporate her theme of autumn leaves into the quilt designs.  We had fun looking at leaf samples and drawing out a few sketch ideas, and settled on one kind of three section leaf and curls for the outer border, then swirls for a thin sashing, and all over oak leaves (five section leaf) with echoes and swirls for the center bargello section.  Her backing was pumpkin colored flannel, which was soft and cozy, but some of the detail of the quilting was lost on the back, as the thread sunk into the nap and left behind mostly a feeling of texture.  All in all, I was very happy with the outcome, and that the theme was successful in its execution from piecing to quilting.

A couple of weeks later, I heard from another lady in my friend's quilt class who had liked my work and wanted me to quilt HER bargello as well.  I was excited to try a completely different approach to the same basic quilt, but when she brought it to our consolation, she had liked the whimsy of the autumn quilt and wanted to use a theme for her Christmas version as well.  She had picked fabrics with holly in almost every print, and a tone on tone holly and swirl print for the backing.  So we again went to the theme, in this case holly, to help us select the quilting designs.  We ended up sketching the outer border with holly, berries and swirls, and she did not want dense quilting, so I tried to do more curls and swirls than holly leaves.  In the thin sashing, once again she liked the curls, so we did simple reverse curls about two inches apart to keep even this smaller detail more open.  And for the bargello center, we went with a meander of curls, berries, and occasional holly leaves in the busy piecing.  I love how this turned out.  It is somewhat similar to the autumn quilt in style:  whimsey and curls and natural motifs, but used the elements in the fabrics to help us settle on a quilting design that made the whole thing cohesive and theme oriented.

I sort of hope I'm not developing a personal style that I can't break out of, so my next personal project will be something completely different, like ruler work, to keep mixing it up a bit.  Over and over I hear quilt teachers mention your personal style developing over time like a signature.  But it's always a part of a quilter's journey to stretch, learn and grow, and I hope I can keep fresh ideas and emerging skills at the forefront of my own quilt projects to continue to improve.

What a pleasure to work on two such fun projects, and thank you to both quilt makers (Debbie and Karen) for trusting me with your lovely work.