Friday, May 5, 2017


The last few weeks in the studio were spent working on another "String-Me-Along" quilt top (pattern by Dodi Lee Poulsen, available at Fons & Porter's website). This time, purple is the popper. It would be more of a popper with white polka-dots instead of black, but this was the only cotton polka-dotted purple I could find online. And for some reason I was bent on purple.

Right after the photo was taken, I was reminded that it was the one-year anniversary of Prince's death. Coincidence? Anyway, Purple Rain it is.

After finishing the quilt top, the mood to sandwich and baste just didn't strike me. Instead the top was put aside for an Asian print fat-quarter that's been beckoning from the shelf for years.

This is only about 1/4 of the piece, but you get the idea. There were four different vases in it, each of which I backed with fusible and then carefully cut out for raw-edge applique.

[Note: I always turn down a corner when photographing a fabric, as the 'wrong side' sometimes works better than the 'right side' for a particular quilt. I keep these photos on file in my computer, categorized according to type, for quick reference.]

Several Stonehenge fabrics (by Northcott Mills) were auditioned, and these two, to the right and below, were chosen for the background and the inner border.

Apparently I'd failed to photograph the outer border fabric (also a Stonehenge) for my files, but here it is in the finished quilt photos.

29 x 19 inches

As you can see, there were some issues with squaring. I steam-blocked the quilt, first pinning the pink border as straight as I could get it--which wasn't very straight. Blocking did improve it, and of course after the quilt dried the outer edges were trimmed square and then bound, so ultimately the quilt is square. So, what was the problem? Well, the background fabric, which is not nearly as densely woven as the batiks I usually work with, should have been stabilized for such dense quilting. Lesson learned!

The next photo shows the texture a little better.

The foreground feathers were drawn freehand on tracing paper, re-traced on freezer paper, and thread-traced right through the freezer paper onto the quilt with a 100-weight (very fine) thread. They were then free-motion quilted over that fine thread tracing with a contrasting 40-weight variegated thread, and then re-stitched for more definition. (The feathers above the vase were quilted in a 100-weight thread that matched the background, for a much more subtle appearance than those in the foreground.)

The inner border features the only decorative machine stitch used on the quilt, a Greek Key stitch. This, too, would have benefited from some stabilization.

The vases were outlined with an applique stitch in clear mono-poly thread.

There was a bit of a fight with the fabric in the area between this vase and the feathers, and it won a couple of times. Again, not stable enough!

Speaking of stable(s), it seems we're in for a cold, wet race day tomorrow for the 143rd running of our famous Kentucky Derby here in my hometown (I'd bet on a mudder...poor horses!), but we've been lucky compared to a lot of folks in the U.S. Thoughts and prayers for all who have been or are being affected by destructive spring weather.

'Til next time,



  1. Another very interesting and informative post! I'm surprised since everything including the border is densely quilted it would give you trouble. How would you stabilize? Do you put a layer of it next to the backing, then batting, then the top and then quilt?

    1. Hi, Carol! The Stonehenge fabric is great, but is a little more of a woven texture than the batiks I'm used to for my quilt top background. In retrospect, I would have used a Pellon Featherweight fusible interfacing to back it (the quilt top), as I've done that before and it's light enough that the quilted texture was still fairly obvious when finished. I'd hesitate to use anything heavier, though.

  2. In spite of your stabilization woes, this is a beautiful piece! I love how the vases stand out so vibrantly, and the feather quilting swirls around them.


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