Sunday, October 3, 2010

Floral Applique Quilt with Embroidery

Quiltmaking has been a favorite hobby of mine for a long time, but I don't have a chance to indulge in it too often anymore. Last winter, however, we had an 8-day power outage, and I had lots of time to do anything my heart desired ... that didn't require electricity! So, I finally had a chance to finish a quilted wallhanging that I have worked on, off and on, for several years. (To be honest, I think it's been over ten years!)

The quilt's design was taken from the book A Bouquet of Quilts: Garden-Inspired Projects for the Home  by Jennifer Rounds and Cyndy Rymer.
Each flower in the 4" squares was applied to the background using fusible web, then I hand-embroidered around each individual applique piece with ivory perle cotton using a feather stitch.

This quilt traveled with me on vacation for many years - to Maine, North Carolina, Texas, Arizona, Colorado - it was easy to take a Ziploc bag of squares and work on the embroidery during long car rides or on rainy days at the beach.

The watering can and flowers in the large center square were hand appliqued using a freezer paper applique technique.
Stems and leaves were hand embroidered using DMC floss.
After the squares were all finished, I stitched them together and added the border. Then I tackled the daunting project of feather stitching all the seam lines.
A hand-appliqued vine adds interest to the border and repeats the colors found in the flower squares.
After finishing all the hand applique and embroidery on the wallhanging, I had to decide how to quilt it. I hadn't hand quilted for years; machine quilting is more my thing, mostly because it allows me to get more done in less time, but this quilt seemed to cry out to be hand quilted. It seemed like sacrilege to even think of  zooming around at breakneck speed on this quilt with my Bernina, after the hours I had spent with it in my lap, slowly and methodically creating stitch after tiny stitch.
So, with a sigh of resignation, I took up my needle and started quilting. I'd already spent years on this piece - what did it matter if it took another year or two to finish it? What's funny is that I found that I truly enjoyed the hours I spent quilting. It gave me a good excuse to sit down and relax a bit, and there's something so satisfying about seeing those squares filling up with all that neatly spaced echo quilting.
 
So, while I waited for the power to be restored after the big blizzard last February, I snuggled up under my quilt (to stay warm!) and resolutely worked to finally finish it. Before the lights came back on, it was done! It now hangs in the main hallway of my house, so I get to enjoy it every day. In the late afternoon, the sun slants across it, highlighting the texture of all that quilting. It's beautiful!
 

8 comments:

  1. You are truly beyond belief Leslie! This is spectacular. I'm in awe of your many talents (nd patience too) ~ they are just endless!

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  2. What a work of art you have created, it is just beautiful! I agree with you about the hand stitching, it fits the piece. I too find it relaxing to sit and do hand stitching, wish I had time these days to do some quilting.

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  3. What a lovely work of art! You must take a look at "Stitch" - a documentary film from Alabama Chanin. Growing up in the South.
    Hope your power is restored, but it looks like a blessing to be without power for you.
    pve

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  4. There is nothing quite as beautiful
    as hand stitching. I love your
    quilt and I know it has brought you
    serentity.
    Doris

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  5. Thats gorgous! Ive been working on a hand done quilt for years also. I figured since my grandmother could make quilts and raise 7 kids I should be able to make one in my life! Wonderful design, thanks for sharing.

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  6. I've never quilted, but your beautiful piece makes me want to start. It's breathtaking! Thanks for sharing it!

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  7. How very beautiful! I'm so glad you hand quilted it as it is exquisite. A question though. Are the flowers with feather stitch all around them, hand appliqued using needle turning and invisible stitch first, or are they stitched on using feather stitch?
    Sara

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  8. The flowers with embroidered edges were fused on with Wonder Under. It was a time saver, plus then I only had to embroider through one flower layer instead of the two layers that a seam allowance would have given me. The feather stitch reinforces the raw edge and prevents raveling, although since the quilt just hangs on a wall that really wouldn't be a problem anyway.

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