Every so often, you find a project that has you step outside your comfort zone. When you take that step, you grow as an artist and a person. Garden Steps has been one of those projects for me from beginning to end.
At the start, Northcott had just signed an agreement with Frond Design Studios to carry their beautiful and very artistic fabrics. Designers were sent electronic swatches and asked to develop unique designs, preferably something deconstructed. My style is typically more constructionist – I take blocks and motifs with the intent of blending. This was the complete opposite. I kept the deconstruction simple, remembering what I had learned about modern quilting. And I took a lesson from Coco Channel “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” I had to stop myself from doing too much. Northcott provided excellent design parameters and Garden Steps was created as a simple but elegant quilt with Frond’s stunning fabric.
Moving from the design screen to my sewing machine was simple. That was part of the beauty. Garden Steps has large simple pieces and assembles very quickly. Most of my quilts take at least a few more steps. This was definitely a welcome change. Remember that not all change is difficult.
The next challenge came on the longarm. Traditional block quilts provide hints on how to quilt them. The blocks provide outlines and ideas. Blank spaces lend themselves to heavier quilting. Appliques like to be outlined and echoed. Panel quilts are a little more challenging. They either call for thread painting to highlight the panel or an all over design to stabilize the panel. The borders on panel quilts are much like traditional quilts, the pieces help guide the quilt design. Garden Steps, in my mind, didn’t fit the panel or the traditional mold. Nor did it seem to fit the modern style where the quilting was the star. I wanted the panel to shine, even in its deconstructed form.
I don’t know about you, but sleep seems to bring on the best ideas for me. Unfortunately, those ideas pop into my head after a few hours of sleep. That means I am wide awake at 3 am working through the logistics. By 4 am, I have snuck down the stairs, careful not to wake the hubby or the fur babies. In this case, it meant sketching the quilt ideas on the image. Then, moving the rough idea to the quilt with chalk. Everything clicked. The next step was to load the quilt onto the longarm and get busy.
Two different leaf motifs were used on the outer borders to create a frame. The yellow border was left puffy. The quilt center was where I had my fun. I extended the fabric design across the negative space. This means the petals of the iris were outlined onto the blue sashing. Then, I added fern-like feathers or frond to the rest of the quilt. This idea came from my own garden where some of my Siberian Irises are set against a backdrop of Ostrich Ferns. It was also a nod to the Frond Design Studio.
Binding was completed during a car ride from VA to NY and back. I was excited to be a little productive on the ride 🙂
I hope that you enjoy Garden Steps and the brief story behind its creation.