It’s a gorgeous warm Autumn day in Canberra and I’m sitting in my lougeroom while the gentle rays of afternoon sun warm my favourite chair. While I could be sewing, I’m in a more reflective mood so I’m going to sit here and share some thoughts as I enjoy the warmth, the jazz and some fancy green tea (I’d move on to some wine but I might go to sleep J).
What I want to write about today is why I enjoyed Ruth de Vos’ work at the Australian Quilt Convention so much. As you may have read in my general post about the convention, Ruth’s quilts were my favourite exhibit. I’ll tell you some of the many reasons why these were my favourite and then get on to what you and I might learn from Ruth. So, Ruth’s quilts stood out to me because of:How well the gum flowers and leaves were represented. The shapes and textures were the right combination of stylisation and realism.
- The scale of the pattern makes the quilt jump off the wall at you. For example, the flowers were probably 12” or more across.
- The layering of the design kept you walking closer to the quilt. While the scale of the pattern caught your eye initially, the closer you got, the more you could notice about the quilt. To see some of the beautiful detail you had to stand very close to the quilt. To me this is the test of a masterful quilt, it reels you in to look closer and closer from across the room, your curiosity can’t resist!
I’d like to pick up on this last point about layering and show you how Ruth has done this. If you have a look at myslideshow here: Gum Blossoms Close Up you’ll see one of Ruth’s quilts from a distance then gradually close and closer until you can see the fine detail of the quilting. While the layering is impressive and engaging, what fascinated me about these quilts was that from a distance you can’t really see the quilting, yet when you get close up you discover that the quilting is very detailed designs, sewn in a thread that contrasts with the individual pieces, and yet tones in with the overall colour set of the quilt. Very clever and effective.
What colour and weight thread to use when I quilt is always one of my major dilemmas. I have a Christmas quilt that I made with lots of funky star-pattern quilting, but no-one ever sees the quilting unless they turn it over and look at the back… the thread I chose blended in so well with the background that frankly the quilting is wasted. Conversely, on the Home Sweet Home quilt, I chose a heavy weight burgundy thread to do the quilting in the burgundy sections and while the colour tones in, the weight of the thread makes the quilting standout and gives the quilt some additional texture. So…
The moral of today’s story, inspired by Ruth’s quilts, is twofold. Firstly, worry less about making the colour of the quilting thread blend in with the fabric. Secondly, think more about using the quilting to create layers and textures in the design of your quilt to both give you the satisfaction of a beautiful result and to draw the curiosity of anyone else who might have the priviledge of seeing your handiwork.
The sun is going down over the hills now so it must be time to swap the tea for some wine and get on with making something interesting for dinner. Life is good.