This one is in the “Thank Goodness it’s Finally Finished” category! I started this quilt in September, 2013, hoping for something easy and quick, and it was neither. It’s not that the piecing is complex (it’s not) or that any of the construction was terribly difficult (it wasn’t), but it turned into much more of a “thing” than I’d anticipated.
It’s modern-ish. That’s part of the problem, at least for me. It’s outside a number of my boxes, one of them being that I work well from a pattern or at the very least a definite plan, and this quilt had no pattern and only a very vague plan. Rather than purchase anything, I used some Quilter’s Dream batting that I had (which I’m just going to note again that I really don’t like), and between the weight of the quilt and backing and the weight of the batting, this quilt was a total bear to push through the machine for quilting. Then I couldn’t resist complicating things with embroidery, and that takes a while. And yes, all of this is self-inflicted!
In the end I got it done and I’m pleased with it, though since the last embroidery stitches went in on January 1, I was sorely tempted to call it a 2014 finish so I could feel like I got more done last year. I decided that would be cheating, so I didn’t. 🙂
Even the picture taking was delayed by the lack of a sunny day, and though I don’t have a fantabulous place to take photos of anything of any size right now, I wasn’t going to wait until I fix a better place to get it done. When the sun finally showed its face at my bedroom window, pictures were taken despite the (still) imperfect lighting, the lack of great props, having nowhere to hang the quilt except on the antique mirror and the cats “helping.” Perfection is not required!
This quilt started with a roll of Artisan Batiks precuts from Robert Kaufman that I’ve been staring at since I brought it home from Quilt Market in 2009 (I think). I’m not a big fan of precut fabrics because you can’t easily prewash the fabric and they’re not always accurately cut, so when I started this quilt I tried to take those limitations into account and plan for them rather than being tripped up by them. I cut random-sized bits from each strip in the roll, sewed them together sorta randomly, and then arranged them on the design wall so that the colors blended well. See, that’s a lotta random stuff in there, and I don’t do random very well!
In the beginning I also thought I was going to do something totally odd and use a high thread count sheet as the background fabric, but I fell in love with Essex Linen along the way. In certain lighting, the white Essex Linen has a plastery sort of look to it. The texture is a nice contrast to the much finer weave of the batik fabrics, though the linen also added quite a bit more weight to the whole thing than regular quilting cotton would have. In my head I had been thinking of this quilt as a lightweight summer sort of thing, and it’s definitely not that. That’s not bad, just not what I was expecting out of the project which is simply due to a lack of forethought!
I quilted the center of the quilt with stitch in the ditch horizontal lines that extend past the colored batik fabrics to the circle edges and the rest of the quilting on either side is vertical wavy lines with a few small loopy circles, using white Aurifil 50/2 cotton. I added a few more lines of quilting with some #2021 Aurifil 12/2 that Alex Veronelli was kind enough to send to me years ago to try. It’s a subtle difference, but the 12 wt. thread quilts up beautifully. I didn’t mark the quilting lines which is definitely outside my comfort zone. I can follow a marked line like nobody’s business, but quilting freehand larger designs intimidates me greatly!
The circles are hand embroidered with #5 hand overdyed pearl cotton from Weeks Dye Works. I also added a bit more embroidery around the outside edge of the quilt after I applied the facing, using more colors of the pearl cotton and changing the colors as I stitched so that the colors would coordinate with the batiks in the quilt center. The Weeks Dye Works pearl cotton is really easy to blend this way and provides a nicely delicate edge detail.
And there it is, or at least most of it! One of these days I might have to get the quilt stand set up properly for photos. If I make something like this again–and I might make it into a pattern–I’d probably do a variation without the circles, just to see. For the time being, Softly Spoken will live on the back of the couch waiting for a good movie on the television and a couple of cats to snuggle with.