For Jolene

44" x 53"

July 2013

Having finished her brother's quilt, I then started on Jolene's quilt. Where her brother's quilt was a challenge for me (being out of my comfort zone of girly quilts!), this quilt for Jolene had the exact opposite problem: too *many* options! Either end of that Bell Curve (too little options, too many options) pose the same paralysis of action.

Whilst perusing my inspiration folder, I found a picture that I could use as a basis. The inspiration quilt came from the 10/25/2012 blog entry of Piece and Quilt by Natalia Bonner. It's not Natalia's pattern but no reference to where the original idea/pattern came from. If anyone does recognize this inspiration quilt, I'd sure love to know who to give proper credit.

As you can see, the inspiration quilt has flowers on straight line stems. Most of my quilts have straight lines on them via the piecing and I welcome the opportunity to incorporate curvy lines when appliquing ... which is what I did on my version. I substituted a curvy stem which covered the entire right side of the quilt.

One other change I made was the size of the half-circles in the vertical seam. On the inspiration quilt, they are all the same size. I varied the size of them on my quilt.

Otherwise, my quilt has the same look-and-feel as the inspiration quilt.

However ... and there's always a "however", isn't there? .... once I put the top up on my design wall, it looked to me that I should have curved the leftside vine with the bright turquoise flower upwards more. There's a big, ol' empty space in the middle of the quilt. ::sigh::

The existing vine and flowers weren't getting moved because they had already been stitched down by machine ... with very small stitches.

Ah, well .. such is life.

A solution needed to be found. I didn't want to put another vine and flowers in there; I just needed "something" to visually take up that space.

Butterflies! Butterflies and flowers go together like peanut butter and jelly!

And I had just the fabric to fussy cut and needleturn applique some small-scale butterflies in that space. After the quilting was done, I hand-embroidered the antennae to the butterflies.

For the backing, I used a sherbet-colored, rainbow fuzzy fleece.

Once the top was completed, it was time for the quilting. I know, from experience, that intricate, involved quilting does not show up well on prints. It's better saved for solid (or near solid) fabrics. And, in fact, when I do quilts for others, I tell them that ... why pay for complicated designs when they aren't going to be seen?

But for my OWN quilts, I can do what I want! I had seen a fantastic arched design, using arc templates. Here was an opportunity for me to experiment a little. I would put a series of double-arcs down the length of the blue print on the left-hand side. The red lines in the photo to the right show the quilting design. Rest assure, the actual quilting lines were MUCH smoother than the hand-drawn lines in the photo!

This did involve just a little bit of marking on the top, for reference points. I used the edges of each half-circle as the base of the arcs. I measured up a certain amount above the half-circle (I don't remember exactly .. maybe 3"?) and put a dot. That would be the point of the first arc.

I wanted this to be a double-line arc, so I put another dot about 1/2" (or maybe 1"? I don't remember) above the first dot.

But this still didn't take up enough of the blue border area ... so I repeated the double-line arc a certain distance above the first arc.

Beadboard lines were quilted in the remainder of the area.

To hold down the area inside the first arc, I quilted a "question flower" or "baby's bonnet" ... from the bottom, draw a question mark, repeat the curve back towards the staring point, put a series of humps along the outside of the outer curve to get back to the starting point again and move on. It looks remarkably like a flower and you just can't go wrong. I sure do like designs like that! :-) (Note: my question marks are actually closed loops, but the technique is otherwise the same.)

You can see the design much better on the back.

For the quilting in the half-circles, where appropriate, I followed the design in the fussy-cut fabric. Otherwise I used the question flower design.

I used two layers of circles, appliqued one on top of the other, for the flowers. I quilted the same question flower design inside the flower to hold it down. Some of the inner flowers were fussy cut, so in those cases, I followed the printed design instead.

I also stitched in the ditch around the circumference of each of the flowers and along each side of the vines.

That left the background quilting. Oh what to do??????

I have a series of free-motion quilting books by Darlene Epp. She is Da Bomb! I LOVE LOVE LOVE her books! She guides you through a series of designs in increasing complexity but it never seems difficult. From her "Pocket Guide to Freehand Meandering", I remembered her two-loop meander.

In my situation, I was calling them "fireflies" because don't fireflies flit amongst the flowers? Besides, it sounds whimsical. I like whimsical. :-) (and so did Jolene!)

The label was put on. THIS time I didn't use that gawd-awful stiff pre-fused stuff. I used other non-fused printer fabric to print my label and put on my OWN fusible (Steam a Seam 2). Boy, that worked SO much more nicely than the other label! This label is firmly adhered to the backing fabric AND it's not stiff at all.

That left the binding. Binding is kinda routine, right? But for this quilt, if I used a blue binding, it would starkly contrast on the white side. If I used a white binding, it would show up like a sore thumb on the blue side.

Solution? Use both! But with a twist! At the seam line between the blue and white, I joined the two colors in a straight seam. Normally, I would use a diagonal seam in the binding (to better distribute the bulk) but if I did that on THIS quilt, it would be jarring to the eye. Having a straight line seam in the binding was the perfect technique for this quilt at this point.

One last item .. the pillow case! I used plain white fabric for the body, as it was a very soft fabric. I didn't have enough of any of the blue for the band but I *did* have yardage of the butterfly fabric (the stuff I fussy cut the appliqued butterflies from). The accent was plain turquoise.

Jolene loved both the quilt and the pillowcase. In fact, it turned out that she LOVES butterflies. So my choice of fabric for the pillowcase band was absolutely perfect. It was as if someone had been whispering in my ear. :-)

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