Thursday morning started with a bang -- a good sort of bang. No, make that an awesome bang. Picture this, it is 6am, and I just have my coffee. The rest of the house is asleep. I went to my computer to check up on things before I went to quilt on a very time-consuming Baltimore Album quilt. I knew that this was the opening day for Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival, but I also knew they were getting a snow storm, and the usual people I might know going, were not going to be there until Friday. News tends to filter slowly from this show unless there is a person you know on the ground, so to speak. Anyhow, I had a number of emails already, and a message from my sweet friend Sherry Reynolds of congratulations. My quilt Big Bertha, which I will not show because everyone has seen a bazillion pictures of it, it won the Best of Show! This is such a bittersweet win for this quilt. It is at most 3 shows from being retired. It is aging out, and has run the show circuit hard for 2 years, racking up many awesome awards. It is the reason my family can afford to do a 2 week trip to Europe this summer! It started it's shows at MQX in 2013 with a BOS, and this is very close to it's end of life, so another BOS is delightful.
A while later, one of the vendors posted a picture of my other quilt that is at the show. Let me introduce you to The Jester's Folly. It is the 38-ish" silk quilt. I have showed a few snippets of it's creation, but realized that finished photos were never shown. This quilt won the wall quilt's Best Machine Workmanship award!
So, without further adieu, here is the finished quilt. I like to show the top before quilting so you can truly appreciate how much detailed machine quilting can transform and even alter a mostly basic pieced top. I think that this is a perfect example.
Aha...I am seeing the light bulbs going off, as you are seeing the octagon I was talking about. When I sat down to design the quilting, I immediately saw the octagon, and saw it as a way to get rid of that wide olive border I placed on the center star block. Using a wide border was my way of enlarging the quilt, simply. Creative quilting easily masks the fact that it is boring!
So one of the most common questions I get from quilters is "how do you know what to quilt where?". Sometimes it is obvious, other times, it comes by drawing several wrong choices. One thing I can say is that to keep this with the Jester theme, I knew I needed the 30-60 diamonds. They just speak the theme. So O placed them as you see below, in the rather large-ish dark green corners in a cluster of 3, AND (remember that wash-rinse-repeat thing) - you got it, repeat the diamond motif into the inner border too. To give some variety, the diamonds end and straight parallel lines run into the pink jester-spikey things. They really oughta have a name!
The outer border, which if you remember I used straight lines on against my real wishes, needed the curved quilting to soften the edge. My style of quilting can be very rigid and geometric, and curves help to juxtapose that. The arcs of pebbles tie into the octagon of pebbles, making that a repeated and useful motif. Sections of pebbles can be pretty, but they can also be monotonous and over used. I prefer to use a motif judiciously and with purpose.
I tend to repeat many motifs, right down to cross-hatching (using a 1/2" curved hatch in the HSTs) as well as 1/4" in the outer border. They are different textures, yet similar. A word about using lines to get a design to show...It was a challenge to get that octagon to be a prominent design feature. To do this, there are two parallel 1/4" lines, pebbles, and then another set of parallel lines. Tip to remember - if you want a design to show on an otherwise busy background (while the solid silk is not really busy, the multi-colors and way I pieced it make it busier than a single fabric), you must stack parallel lines. One stitched line will vanish. Two parallel lines will show, but only a little. Three parallel lines, which create 2 ridges of positive space, show more. You get the idea...Places on this center design that show prominently had the design quilted with more than 2 lines!
I added what have to be the largest crystals I have ever used - some are size 30 and 34! I just hope that they are still on when the quilt arrives home. They were being a little persnickety the day I mailed off the quilt.
Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Hope you tolerated the long quilting discussion. Many people ask what goes on inside my head as I design, and this is it. And if you are lucky enough to be coming to MQX in April, you should be seeing this quilt hanging in the show!