Monday, January 28, 2008

Emerald Oceans - my first art quilt

Here are some photos of a quilt I just finished (after getting my machine back from the shop).  I'm still working on the binding, and it's the first time I've bound a quilt using anything but my machine. I've used only two fabrics for the top: a brown marble Moda fabric for the border, and feathered print by Robert Kaufman.  I saw the green print at my local quilt shop and fell in love.  On the bolt, it starts with the lightest shade of celadon and fades to a deep forest green.
I didn't use a pattern, but imitated a borgello style of quilt.  If you're not familiar with these, I suggest you check out this book by Marge Edie. They are very fun and easy to do.
It only took a day to assemble the quilt top. The technique I used follows:
  1. I used about 1.5 yards of the green printed fabric, and started slicing in strips.  I cut an equal number of 3", 2.5" and 2" strips for this quilt.  
  2. Next, I sewed each strip into a loop, end to end, so the lightest part of the print met the darkest part (I pressed toward the darkest end).  
  3. Then, I arranged the loops on the floor, and straightened the seams out to make a horizon.  
  4. After I was pleased with the arrangement (I used alternating widths of loops for interest), I cut each of the loops open at the top, and straightened them out.
  5. After numbering the strips carefully with chalk, I sewed them together.  For some reason, my strip-style quilts tend to warp slightly upon assembly.  To fix this, I alternate the sewing direction (that is, sewing from top to bottom and from the bottom to top) when assembling the quilt.
  6. I added a border when I was finished.  This also helps some with getting the fabric to behave itself.
I used a soft 100% cotton batting with low loft, and a fun modern print by Michael Miller for the backing.  For the quilting, I wanted to try my hand at a few free-motion styles.  I used five different colors of thread, including silk and variegated thread. My machine is happiest with Mettler silk finish 100% cotton, but I was also able to use the silk thread without incident.

I marked the quilt with chalk before beginning--simply three wavy lines across the quilt, about where I decided I would switch thread color.  The sky area is quilted in ivory in a meandering curls pattern.  I did wavy lines for the next two shades, echoing each other and becoming more flat as the approach the bottom.  
The last two shades at the bottom of the quilt are in landscape style free-motion, which is a little harder for me than the other styles, but I am pleased with the results.

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