This week I got a phone call from my friend Sharon Porter to say "We Won!!" And I couldn't have been happier, because her work is magnificent, and thoroughly deserving of recognition. I keep thinking I'm 'just the quilter', but it was a joint effort and my stitches do enhance her beautiful applique. It's so hard for me to accept praise for some reason, so I should just shut up and be happy!
Her quilt was entered in the Applique section (Two Person) of the South Australian Quilters' Guild show which is on now. Disappointingly I can't get down to see it hanging, but a friend sent this photo, with the pronouncement "Awesome!"
The design is by Michelle Hill, and as I stitched I continually admired how beautifully balanced and flowing the shapes were. It was so interesting to work on; even though it was rather difficult to stitch around all those in and outs I was never bored! And I would rather be ditchstitching them than machine appliqueing them as Sharon had to do....
This is not a big quilt, for all the amazing applique swirling around, and when Sharon showed me the top I had no idea what to do. The background spaces are quite tiny and there was no room for fancy flowing feathers and fills. I decided that nothing should take away from the focal point, the applique, and I also didn't want to hammer the background flat as a tack.
I spent a week carefully ditch stitching every single shape and vine, and burying dozens of thread ends by hand, which gave me breathing space while I worked out what to do. There's something terrifying about taking the first stitch on this blank canvas, worrying that you're going to ruin all that beautiful work and wondering whether what you've decided to quilt will actually look the way you want it to.
I started with the centre and quickly realised I had even less roon to manouvre than I'd thought, so ideas were simplified even further and I settled on the final plan. I filled in each little section at a time, rolling the quilt back and forth as there were four or eight or sixteen repeats. I can't work across the quilt without forgetting the pattern of movements in each section, so I did it like a colouring book, one little bit at a time. This also gave me time to think about the next bit I was going to tackle- if something worked well I tried to repeat it in other places.
Sometimes I wish I could draw it all out beforehand and just follow the lines, but I seem to get some of my best ideas as I'm quilting, allowing my mind to solve the problems just before I get to them. A bit nerve wracking, but it usually works out well.
I'm glad Sharon trusted me enough to quilt this, and I'm glad that she entered it in the show as I never seem to get around to things like that. You never know, I might just develop a taste for competition! But the main thing for me is knowing that between us we accomplished something beautiful, and when she hangs it in her home she can enjoy it every single day and think "I made that!" It's a real tribute to her skill....