"Return to Provence" ~ Diane Gaudynski 2013
The entire quilt, above, is 14 3/4" square, quilted with YLI #100 silk thread on gold silk dupioni, Pellon Legacy wool batt. The designs are based on my miniature quilt, A Visit to Provence. Below is a detail so you can see scale:
Although the motifs are small, it was fun to quilt. The backgrounds were time consuming as always, but in miniature even more so. However, I like the finished result and will let you know when this available for bidding for the AAQI Celebrity Invitational Auction this fall.
Because I hadn't quilted much in over a year, just some samples, I didn't know if the ease and fluidity of it would be there, or would I struggle and make errors. I think if you have machine quilted for a long enough time so that you don't have to think about it as you quilt, so that it is a natural process for you, it will be part of muscle memory and the slightest nudge to your brain will wake all that up and you will be back quilting as you were before.
If you are a beginner and stop for long periods, you will probably have to do some re-learning and practice to get back to where you were. It's something that is different for everyone, some seem so natural at it right away, and some struggle and practice but eventually master free motion. Know yourself, what works for you.
I highly recommend working on real quilts right away, not practicing forever. I did that, never worried I'd ruin a quilt, planned each one to use techniques I could do and tried at least one new thing in each so I could build my skills and the variety of quilting techniques I could do on each top.
One invaluable tool for me has always been layering a prototype, and quilting on that first. The same fabrics/batt/backing as in the real quilt in a big enough sample so I can really warm up and get the feel of the quilt, choose thread colors, practice a few motifs before I switch to the real quilt.
Below is my prototype that I knew was sorely needed for this new piece. I began by doing a few freehand feathers that would be the size for the outer wreath, getting those familiar and smooth, with several shades of thread so I could see what looked best to me.
The first quilting I did is right at the bottom, and I used chartreuse thread. It looks fine, but......to me it looks like the blue marker I used for parts of the marked areas didn't wash out completely and stained the thread. No matter how I looked at it that's how it appeared in my eyes, and I wondered if others would think, whoa, she used gold thread and the marker didn't come out!
The other objection to the chartreuse thread was these feathers have backtracking, two lines of stitching right on top of one another, and the green was so much more noticeable in these areas when compared to the next bit of sample feathers I quilted in matching gold silk thread.
Because I wanted this quilt to be classic, I decided to use the gold thread.
Then I experimented with gold Sparkle thread, a blend of fine gold metallic and gold #100 silk. I liked it but it was fraying. I used a larger needle, a #80 Jersey ball point, and all was well. I liked it with one row of echo, then Sparkle, then back to silk. Of course I tried out many variations of this!
Later I tried some colored pencils and shaded the quilting a bit, but decided in the end I liked it without better. Again, more classic. You can see a bit of the shading on the rabbit in the prototype.
All this left me forgetting to be tense about my quilting; in fact, I didn't even think about it. I was focused on the color of thread, how the machine was working, everything else except my quilting. Because of this I believe I was so relaxed that my quilting was as good as it has ever been. Compared to some I did for the original quilt in '03 on that prototype, it is better quilting.
That made me feel so optimistic and relaxed, I started on the real quilt, knowing I would use the prototype space to do a few clamshells, try out the other backgrounds and motifs before doing them on this miniature.
The backing of the quilt is cotton, a Moda fabric from the Wuthering Heights collection, in a dusty teal floral. I used gold silk thread in the bobbin as well so the shadowing of the gold on teal makes for a very pretty quilt back, below.
While I was quilting I noticed the fan was blowing the silk thread out of the first vital guide, right before the tension discs. I attached a small pin, below, and threaded that to keep it in line. Worked perfectly, plus I was cool with the breeze gently fanning my face.
Soon I'll post some tips for quilting that I think are something to keep in mind. The biggest tip? Keep quilting....your work gets better every day!