Sunday, January 8, 2017

Feather Quilt

Hi there! It's been a while. I suppose it took finishing a quilt to get me back into this space. I felt that this one needed to be documented and well, shown off a bit. It's pretty special. I'd always wanted to make a feather quilt, since Anna Maria Horner released this free pattern a few years ago. I love feathers - symbolic of hope and strength, and each unique in nature. I think this quilt pattern captures that beauty.    

This pattern relies on a range of quilting skills from simple strip piecing to utilizing templates. I thought it would be overwhelming, but I truly enjoyed the variation in the process. It was exciting to see the feathers come together bit by bit. I will say is easier to make a flock of feathers, then just a few! I made 38 feather blocks for this one (twin size from the pattern), then added a ten inch border to all sides to make it big enough to fit on my queen bed. Truth be told, I should've made it a little wider, but in favor of symmetry, which I like, I wanted the borders to be even on all sides.

As the pattern involves strip piecing, I started with a design roll of Honor Roll fabric, also by Anna Maria Horner. I believe I read her once describe this collection as "a riot of color", which is exactly what I wanted for this quilt. For the background I chose a very deep, dark blue, Kona nautical.

One of the fun things about this quilt pattern, is the freedom you have in piecing the strips for the feathers, themselves. To achieve some variation in the width of the strips, I cut some of the design roll strips in half lengthwise. I also added some random widths of solids and strips of a low volume white print (from Carolyn Friedlander's Botanics collection). I think the white was the perfect addition to the patchwork.

But, enough about the fabric. It's the quilting that steals the show, right?!?! I knew once I committed to making this a larger quilt, that I would send it out to be professionally quilted. Thankfully, a local studio, Singing Stitches, came very highly recommended by several quilty friends. And, oh my, I'm so happy to have found Suzan and Mark! Once I spotted this bird design, I knew it was meant to be. The edge to edge quilting makes the quilt look seamless and as if the feathers are floating on top. I'm so, SO happy with it!

I also wanted the quilt backing to be seamless, so I chose this 110" wide sateen backing by Anna Maria Horner. It's silky and lovely. I'm so happy that designers have been releasing wideback fabric - it really makes the process so much easier! The binding is a colorful floral from Mod Corsage, also by Anna Maria Horner. I actually love to use florals for binding quilts. This one in particular gives the edge a watercolor effect that I love.

Yesterday, we had our first snowfall of 2017. It was a beautiful day and although cloudy, the white snow made everything illuminate. I spent some time by the fire, finishing the hand-stitching on the binding then convinced my husband (on his birthday, no less) to rig a line so I could hang the quilt and get good photos outside. It was a bit breezy, so the quilt was blowing and flapping around in the wind. At one point a big gust came through and the whole thing snapped off the cord, floated up in the air and settled in the snow. Just like a feather.  

Along with being meaningful to me, I sort of feel like this quilt is an ode-to-Anna...her pattern, her beautiful, rich, inspiring fabric. It reminds me of where I began with quilting, about 6 years ago. It was the simple beauty of color in her fabric (Good Folks, if you're wondering) that initially drew me in. After that, it was the process of learning and making quilts that full-filled my need to do something meaningful for myself. Over the years, my interest in quilting has waxed and waned at times - often I find myself frustrated and over-inspired and have to step away for a bit...over and over again. In many ways, completing this quilt felt like a full circle journey, bringing me back to a place where I'm ready to start anew, with the simple inspiration of color. Lord knows, there's enough of it in my sewing room. It was grounding and rhythmic and beautiful to create. And, for that I am grateful.