Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Going Out of the Lines

This little quilt took years to piece. I was piecing it when my children were quite small. As the Christmas season approached I'd get the urge to find my stash of Christmas fabric, get it all out and ponder about what project to work on. I think the first year all I finished was the star in the centre. The following year I made it through the first border. There were probably a couple of years when I only managed to get it out, look at it and put it back again. But one year I found some great stripy fabric that went perfectly and I was able to finish the piecing.

By this time I was machine quilting on a SuperQuilter frame. I'd recently upgraded my sewing machine from a 30 year old school's Bernina 808 to a JUKI TL98P and I was loving those extra 2 inches. This quilt presented me with one of my first opportunities of 'going outside the lines.' I was fed up with stitch in the ditch. I wanted to try an overall pattern. Many hand quilters do this to great advantage. Look at some of the Amish quilts we all love so much, and you'll see that the quilting has a life of it's own and often ignores the piecing pattern completely.

I used a gold shade from the MasterPiece range, Wheat Fields #157. I choose this fine thread to blend in to the pieced fabric underneath, giving me texture without drawing too much attention to itself. The quilting pattern is one that I stumbled on myself. It's a looser, more flowing version of a smokey spiral pattern that I'd used earlier to come out of chimneys. I called it Filigree Scroll work. It's a free flowing pattern, easy to move with in any direction.

Well, it took years to piece, but it was quilted in an hour. It did take a real effort of the will to ignore the piecing and cross over the lines. But I'm glad I did. Standing back from the finished quilt, I realized that an overall quilting pattern could hold the quilt together visually as well as practically. I also like the way a curvy pattern helped the quilt to hang more gracefully. Now I use this quilt each Christmas. But I keep it handy all the rest of the year as a teaching tool to demonstrate the value of going outside the lines.

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