Quilting Adventures in a Wild Garden
I’ve been machine quilting much more than usual during this extended time at home. I’m learning a lot. I am so happy to have finished My Wild Garden recently.
It’s an improvisational quilt, which is a fancy way of saying I made it up as I went along. You’ve never had so much fun as improv quilting allows.
I started this quilt eight years ago during a retreat in Spokane with Mary Lou Weidman. It was so much fun because we quilted all day, learned new things, had delicious catered meals and became acquainted with quilters from all over. The group was smallish, maybe a dozen people.
The quilt grew during the week and took unexpected twists and turns.
Then it languished in my UFO pile for a time, but I finished piecing it not long ago, added applique and started quilting.
In my head, every thing I quilt is for practice. This takes the pressure off. It lets me relax and enjoy the process. I’ve since learned that it’s good to have a plan for what you will quilt before you begin, but for Wild Garden, I did not.
I started with a small crisis on the blue stick flowers, whose fusible web was not holding firm. And I set the bar low. The sticks are only 1/4″ wide so my only goal was to quilt each stick and not veer off onto the background.
I discovered that I could travel between the flowers and it wasn’t ugly, and that I could quilt the small leaves at the same time. I decided to create a vine of sorts to fill the space and allow more traveling.
It’s not the most natural looking vine but it got the job done.
I thought it looked wimpy so I quilted over it a second time.
I used Handi Quilter’s Versa Tool ruler to quilt straight lines in the angular red flowers. I’ve avoided ruler work forever because it sounded like just one more thing to manage. I have enough to manage! But I was wrong about this. A machine quilting ruler lets you do things in a new way and they look different from what you’re used to.
Now I realize that ruler work is another tool in my arsenal of machine quilting tricks, and I think I’ll use it often.
I filled some of the background with pebbles roughly the size of a quarter. I was surprised at how forgiving they were. I’m anxious to add pebbles to another project.
The big red flowers got some meandering in two sizes…
…and some straight lines. This was after I tried some petal shapes that looked horrible and had to be frogged out.
I tried some ribbon candy above this flower and did a wavy grid to the right. Now I can see that the grid looks out of place. It’s too regulated to be part of a wild garden!
All of the leaves and the stems were quilted in one way or another.
They’re not perfect but they’re okay and they’re definitely good enough for a wonky improv quilt.
Up in the top left corner, I used a scrappy Dresden plate for the sun.
It took a bit to figure out how to make it work. In the end, I appliqued only the portion over the quilt, leaving the edges loose.
After the quilting was finished, I bound the quilt. Then I created a facing from another Dresden plate of the same size. It looks nice and finished from the front and from the back.
I used lines of echo quilting to emphasize the sunshine. I just did them freehand without a ruler and they’re straight enough to work.
I love adding a black and white striped binding to a colorful quilt. It’s a trick I learned from Rita Hodge at Red Pepper Quilts.
I’m thoroughly enjoying the HQ Capri stationary longarm. So much throat space, support for the quilt and stitch regulation to boot. What’s not to love?
My Wild Garden will go into a couple of trunk shows: 1. Make Extraordinary Scrap Quilts and 2. Taste Test: Unexpected Sampler Quilts. There will be quilt guild meetings in the future, won’t there? I am sure hoping so!