I’m a member of the Jersey Shore Modern Quilt Guild. We had a program this year that we worked on all year long. The theme was Back to Basics, and we explored half square triangles, from fabric preparation to finishing a quilt. Each member worked on a quilt using half square triangles. This is Deb Hunter’s.
I’ve been sitting on it for a few months. Honestly, I’m a little intimidated by Deb’s artistry. I love having artist friends, but most of the time I feel like I’m faking it. I want to be an artist, but I don’t think I’m there yet. She told me the full title of the quilt is “Standing on the Shore, Looking at the Ocean”, and that I should use that as my inspiration for quilting. She also told me she likes my work, and didn’t want to give me too much guidance.
While I love hearing that people like my work, the no guidance part gives me a little anxiety. I feel like my quilting might be a little over the top for some people, or that I may go off in a direction they weren’t expecting. I dithered over this quilting for far too long. I hope that someday I will be delighted when the clients wind me up and set me loose.
My initial plan, which Deb liked, involved footprints on the beach. The logistics of that slowed me down for a while. Should I use my Donald Duck feet? No. Deb’s feet? Well, I don’t have easy access to Deb’s feet, as she keeps them with her, and she is always on the go. I eventually decided that flip flops would be just right, so I picked up a pair of kids flip flops to use as a template. My other templates are seashells I’ve gathered from local beaches. I like the fact that Deb and I live on the Jersey Shore and the shells represented on the quilt can be found here.
To start quilting, I loaded the quilt onto the frame, and basted it all the way down. That allows me to move around on the quilt without worrying about creating puckers. I knew I wanted to use two thread colors, and I did not want to change more than once. I used a turquoise for the watery lines and a beige for the sand. I also got permission to use a double batting. I start with a layer of Hobbs 80/20 on the bottom, and a layer of Hobbs wool on top. The 80/20 gives a nice firm layer to work with, and the wool adds some incredible dimension. Show quilts often get double batting layers to show off quilting work.
I spread the flip flops and shells out along the bottom of the quilt, and traced them when I was happy with the distribution. (This is not the final position of the items – just a progress photo that seemed fun.)
I used a fancy ruler from Quilter’s Apothecary to make the little circles in the flip flops, and a different rulers to make sure the lines inside were straight, as they appear on the actual sandals.
I didn’t agonize about the quilting within the seashells as much as the sandals. The shells were used as tracing templates, and I did free motion lines with the machine to mimic their natural patterns.
The background of the sandy section is pebbles. I did all of the sandy sections first, starting at the bottom of the quilt and moving up. Pebbles take some time. They are excellent for zoning out and losing track of time. Also, my kids can sneak up and scare the crap out of me when I’m lost in the pebbling.
I love taking photos of the quilt as I quilt it. Watching the wool smoosh down is amazing. It can be a little nerve wracking, too. It looks like there is excess fullness on the blue triangles before I quilt them, but it all works in so nicely. I might have to try leaving some of these puffy un-quilted sections in a future piece and see how they look.
The blue water was done as wavy lines – this is a calm day on the ocean. I thought about adding curvy wave lines, the ones shaped like C’s that tip over, but I couldn’t figure out how to work them in. They just didn’t feel right in this piece.
I did the water from the bottom of the quilt up, too. The motion of filling in the lines felt more natural going that way. It was a little strange, because most quilts I do from the top down. I know it sounds weird, but I do my best to listen to the quilts I am working on. When I listen to that voice I think I turn out my best work. Not all quilts speak to me, but the ones that do are loud and clear.
So here it is. Deb says she likes it, and I’m happy with it. If you want to see this one in person, it will be hanging in Deb’s exhibit at New Jersey Quilt and Sewing Fest in April. She will have a whole series of quilts inspired by her travels across the country.
Oh, and here is a video of me showing off the quilt and explaining my work. Sorry, no Oscar photos on this one. He doesn’t get to fool around with client pieces.