The flip side of course is that it requires about 30 hours to custom quilt this 93" quilt. She specifically requested feathers, so I feathered-a-plenty. I have used a Hobbs Heirloom wool over Hobbs 80/20 batting, and most threads are Glide or SoFine. With this much busyness and movement in the piecing, the quilting needs to be intricate, but not overly busy. It needs to unify the quilt, and accentuate the features of the piecing.
The center of the quilt (below) turned out amazing. She asked for feathers, and definitely got them. The black around the flying geese is micro-stippled, and those curved geese pop out really well. The decision to micro-quilt between ever other radiating ray was made yesterday by the client (after I showed her pictures of one of my quilts before and after filling these spaces). It was a good bit offill work, but it makes the rays so vividly evident. To me, this is one of the defining features of the piecing, and it is better because of the quilting.
One of the things I found challenging to deal with were the way that each circle star unit is finished. These are pieced, then fused down to the checkerboard background. Then, a black bias piping is stitched atop the raw edge. In all but one location, these pipings were appropriately attached, but the added thickness of the 3 extra layers of fabric made stitching near to the piping difficult. I wanted to ditch-stitch along the edge of the piping, but it was really hard since the hopping foot wanted to catch on the added thicknesses. This should merely be a lesson for the readers. If you do this technique, it will indeed look great. It is a clean finished edge. It does, however, make it way harder for the longarmer. Originally, we discussed a plan to quilt flying geese into the black borders, but because it was too hard to get right next to the pipings, another plan was conceived.
The eight largest mariner's stars received simple detail quilting on top of the piecing. They have pebbled backgrounds, and are completely SID in monolon thread as well. Each of the eight stars is detail stitched in a coordinating color thread - yes, eight different colors. I did a small-ish feathered wreath in the center, and a squiggly sun look up the spokes of the star.
The serpentine black borders that are around the stars are pieced from several different black solid and print fabrics. To unify them, I did a peacock-type filler (rather than the serpentine geese) in a charcoal gray Glide thread. Using black would have been too hard to see well, and the gray makes all the areas appear as the same fabric.
One last peek at the front of this quilt (I know, it's hard to get enough...it is amazing)...
Before I show you the gem of the quilt (aka, the back), let me share something that the owner shared with me. When she made this quilt a year ago, her husband had just been laid off from his job. She, an oncology nurse, needed a quilt project that would really challenge her and take her mind off of their troubles. But because of the money hardships, she had to make this from only fabrics that she had in her stash. If you look closely, you will see some wonderful gold-colored satin fabrics that are snuck into the piecing. They are my favorites, and really help to give the quilt depth and personality. At some point in the winter last year, she was forced to sell or all things her sewing machine in order to make the house payment. This was a sad necessity, but forced her to not be able to continue working on the piecing. Imagine working all day with cancer patients only to come home to the challenges that were at home. Some months later, her husband did get a job, and he at some point after that surprised her by brining her home a new sewing machine. She was able to complete the quilt afterall. Life is better now for them, and I am blessed to bethe one chosen to custom quilt this gem for her.
Now, want a look at the back??? It is a mottle fabric, which is more caramel colored than the pictures show. I think it may be a Cherryood hand-dye, but I am not certain of that. Because it is not printed, the quilting shows wonderfully on the back.