(Note:  Photographs to be added by mid-August.)

I draw inspiration for my floral quilts from my own photographs of flowers and leaves.  I took this photograph of Black-Eyed Susans at the Chicago Botanical Garden during a celebration of my husband’s grandma’s eighty-seventh birthday.  It became the basis for my quilt “A Joyful Noise”. 

From the photographs, I make a small line drawing of the basic composition.  I then have the drawing blown up to the size I want to make the actual quilt.   I trace the life-size drawing onto muslin and pin it up to the large design wall in my studio.  This muslin is the base layer for my fabric collage.  I can then use the life-size paper drawing as a pattern to cut my pieces.

One by one, I pick out colors from my fabric “stash”.  I dye hundreds of yards of fabric outside in the summer, and purchase commercial fabrics throughout the year in colors that strike me. Therefore, I don’t generally buy fabric for a specific quilt, but cull the fabrics from my wide selection of colors already available in my studio.  (One of the major advantages of this way of working is that you can start a quilt in the middle of the night, when inspiration strikes!) 

I cut the pieces and pin them up to the design wall, placing them on the muslin base fabric and pinning them in place.  Each piece has a fusible webbing on the back, and when I have all the pieces arranged and am satisfied with the overall design, I iron them down to the muslin.  (I am not satisfied until I feel like every single piece adds to the whole of the design, and that nothing is superfluous.) 

This process of collage can take several days, even weeks or months.  It is certainly the most creative part of the process for me, and takes the most concentration.  After all the pieces are in place, I iron them down while they are still pinned into the wall.  Then I can take the whole piece down and stitch around all the edges.  This completes the “top” of the quilt. 

The quilt top is now sandwiched with a backing layer and an inner layer of batting.  I now put it under my sewing machine again, and quilt through all the layers with designs of flowers, leaves, squiggles, spirals, and anything else I can think of.  This quilting process is very relaxing to me (probably the same way that traditional quilters find their hand quilting) and I enjoy it very much. 

Now the quilt is almost done.  I bind it and stitch a signature in the lower right corner.  Finishing touches include stitching a label with documentation information on the back of the quilt, and a sleeve to insert a hanging rod. 

 

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