Saturday, February 22, 2014

Colorado FROM My Mind

Colorado From My Mind

In the fall of 2012 friend Carolyn and I took a Quilting Adventures workshop with quilt artist Sue Benner.  We had a wonderful time, enjoyed the other art quilters, and loved being in a class with such an accomplished artist.  She was teaching a class called "Sewing the Land:  Fused, Collaged, and Quilted Landscapes."  Sue's quilts were spectacular, assembled from a myriad of strips of all sorts of fabrics--cottons, silks, even polyesters.  She encouraged recycling fabrics by buying clothes from thrift stores and cutting them up to use in quilts.  (Shades of our grandmothers!)

For some reason I had a very difficult time "pulling off" this method.  In my quilt above, the SKY is the only section of the quilt that employs the true "Sue Benner" technique that she was teaching in that class.  After that, I confess I abandoned the strips and assembled my quilt as I have done in the past with other scenic quilts, cutting larger pieces of fabric that corresponded roughly to the elements in a photo.

When I came home over a year ago, I was not happy with my quilt, so I rolled it up, stashed it in a closet, and really forgot about it.  Recently, however, I ran across this quilt.  When I pinned it up on my design wall, I saw it with different eyes.  I could see that it had real potential!  So I kept three-quarters of the quilt, substituting, however, the four fabric shapes that you can see at the bottom for other fabrics that seemed out of place to me.

Today, having just finished my March 15th Material Mavens quilt, I was ready to start a new project, so I got back to work on this one.  I completed the fusing, squared it up, and then began free motion quilting.  Now, I am not comfortable free-motioning, not at all, but I am determined to get better at this technique.

One of my many quilting books suggested using a Superior Threads monofilament thread called Mono.Poly, which I had recently purchased.  Too, it suggested the size needle to use (#10), leaving feed dogs up, and putting the length and width of the stitch at 0.  I did all of this.  I have to admit that leaving those "dogs" up gave me a sense of more control and seemed to work for me as well or better than lowering them.  I followed the contours of the land forms--the mountains, the foreground, etc.--and then followed the contours of the myriad of shapes used in the sky.

I am calling this quilt "Colorado from my Mind" because though this quilt began as one based on a photo taken in Colorado, the new additions were not based on that photo and came totally from my imagination.

This quilt is not yet bound. I am contemplating using Benner's method of multiple zig-zag stitching along the edges, or I might bind it conventionally.  For now, I am happy looking at it pinned to my wall, almost but not quite complete!

Close-up of the free motion quilting.  Not perfect, but I am proud of myself for quilting an entire quilt in this manner for the first time--except for the small 12"x12" quilts I make for the Material Mavens group.  Now if only I can make myself practice this stitching daily!


  1. This is a lovely quilt. I can't see why you didn't like it. I love to free motion quilt and do it almost daily. Feed dogs up or down...I usually use colorful rayon thread, but monopoly is good until you feel more comfortable. It is all about practice and establishing a rhythm between moving the fabric and speed of the machine. I used to put my machine on half speed. It also gave me a sense of control.

  2. Good pointers, Jane! I really vastly prefer colored thread, but since this was a learning project, I thought it safer to use the monofilament. I don't care for its shiny look, though; I ought to have used smoke-colored!

  3. I don't know much about all your techniques, but I love CO and I love this quilt - especially the details of the sky.

  4. I really love this one, Alice. It almost looks like a photograph to me . The name fits perfectly, too.

  5. Amazing what a little time and perspective can make. How rewarding that you could see the potential in this quilt and want to "go back in" and finish it.
    Sky is mesmerizing as I can "see" the clouds moving behind the mountain.

  6. I agree with Andrea. I love the sweep, even movement for the eye, of the mountains and the actiion in the sky. I also am amazed at the distance of a single day can make in perspective and appreciation of a piece one has worked hard on. I love Jane's experience and advice as well. I think you will be glad you changed your mind to try free motion quilting again. The rewards are great!

  7. Well Alice!!! Sue would be very proud of you. I love the way this turned out. It is really one of my favorites of all of your quilts - well, I like all of yours! Great job with the free motion quilting. I think you should send it to Sue!