Quilters Lead Pieceful Lives.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sari Safari

Last December we traveled to India. It was a fantastic experience! We saw many amazing things, ate lots of delicious food, and met many wonderful people. We also had the opportunity to ride an elephant and a camel.

As I did in Japan and Thailand, I was fortunate to be able to purchase some locally made fabrics. Some were at a store in Jaipur, the rest came from the "Ganesh Handicraft" store in Udaipur (thanks, Mona!). What an amazing place! The walls were covered with quilts of every size, color and pattern. Here are some of them:

So I took these as my inspiration to make a quilt that captured the essence of India as well as our personal experience there. Thus the camels and elephants!

The fabrics I purchased were cotton and a very coarse, open-weave raw silk (I really only wanted cotton, but Ganesh only carried the silk). The silk has a beautiful sheen to it, but it was very difficult to work with. Had I known that up front, I might not have made the paper-pieced animals.

I ditch quilted it using gold metallic thread. This is the same type of thread that is in the red medallion fabric, and it also reinforces the sheen of the silk.

Click to see other views.

And, to see our India photo album click here. It is best if you do "slide show", "full screen", "one page at a time". Then you can read the captions better.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Through A Glass Darkly

This is a very unusual quilt for a number of reasons:

First, the idea. It came from a picture of a rug (below) that I noticed in a magazine while we were in Healdsburg, California for my mom’s and sister’s birthday party in 2005. I liked the playful, condensed block of colors against the larger, dark background.

Next, the design. Obviously, the quilt could not be anywhere near as large as an actual area rug. I figured that about 40” x 60” would work. So there had to be enough repeats in the center medallion to produce the intended affect, but overall it had to be small enough to allow for a large background and border and still fit into the desired size. Additionally, the colored rectangular mini-blocks had to be designed so that each had a slight tilt. Then, there are the smaller square blocks in the alternating rows, and a thin sashing strip that separates them (the vertical sashing is incorporated into the mini-blocks). The fabric for the main background is actually black with some dark blue highlights (hard to see, but they really are there). This was done to add some interest and avoid a dull, flat looking expanse without directly moving the focus from the center. The goal was to make the medallion “pop” both visually - through the colors-on-black, and physically - because it is actually floating above the background’s surface!

Then, the execution. This is the most unusual aspect of this piece. It is actually a quilt on a quilt! First, the medallion: The mini-blocks were pieced and cut as regular rectangles. Then I used a template at an angle to create the tilt. And, in a very rare approach (for me at least), I pressed the seams open. This was done to avoid extra bulk in the mini-blocks and also to minimize the visibility of the seam lines. The blocks were then assembled into rows and joined to the sashing and the square-block rows. The medallion was then made into a sandwich with batting and a piece of muslin. The top, bottom, and side sashings were intentionally left large so that they could be folded to the back and whipstitched in place. Then the entire piece was set aside.

I did not want any seams to mar the expanse of the background, so it was cut from one single piece of fabric. The borders, batting, and back were added as if this were a regular quilt top. I then stiple quilted in wavy black lines to mimic and reinforce the back-and-forth motion of the mini-blocks. The binding and sleeve finished off this part of the project.

The medallion set was then centered and ditch quilted on top of the larger quilt.

Finally, the name. Once again, I am at a loss for what to call this piece. So I am calling on everyone to be creative and come up with an appropriate (and unusual?) name. Submit as many entries as you want (along with an explanation if necessary). The winner will get a morsbag in the color of their choice.

And what’s not unusual about this quilt? It will hang in Pauline’s apartment of course!