The In the Spotlight gallery usually appears at Festival of Quilts in alternate years. The gallery is organised by the Quilters’ Guild and a quilter from each region is selected to produce a quilt for display. This year the gallery will be showcasing work by Young Quilters which is really exciting. I thought it might be interesting to share my experience of making a quilt for last year’s gallery.
The theme for the 2017 gallery was No Place Like Home and I was thrilled to be nominated to produce a quilt to represent Region 14. I know not everyone enjoys working to a theme but I love it. I find it really sparks my imagination and challenges my creativity. When working to a theme I begin by spending quite a lot of time thinking about the theme – and then I try to not think about it. I find this a good way for ideas to pop into my head apparently unprompted, although really the theme is just hovering in my sub-conscious. I find a lot of ideas come to me when I’m driving – I just have to keep them in my head until I can stop and write them down!
My first thought on hearing the theme No Place Like Home was the Wizard of Oz! I then thought about what makes ‘home’ for me – family, my cat, books – and my next ideas were about the many different homes I have had. I made a list of the addresses I have lived at and that was my starting point for my quilt design – I finally decided on a numbers theme to represent the many places I have called home in my life.
I knew I wanted to make a modern quilt and decided on big blocks of bold colours, negative space and lots of quilting. When I went shopping for this quilt I didn’t have a strong idea about what colours I wanted but knew that I needed a range of fabrics in similar colours for the pieced background and then a contrast colour for the numbers. Once in the shop I found several shades of blue and blue-green which spoke to me and I chose ten fabrics in these colours which you can see in my sketchbook.
In addition, I chose a textured white to frame the piecing and then two bright pinks and a grey for the numbers.
Once I had purchased my fabric, I was ready to start piecing the modern ‘improv’ background for my quilt. There are lots of different definitions of improv, but for anyone new to the idea it is a way of building up patchwork without using a traditional block or strict measurements. I enjoy this method of piecing as it is very free and I love seeing how the quilt develops as I sew. For this quilt I used a ‘slab’ method, where all the pieces in the quilt are square or rectangular, albeit all different sizes. I don’t have a large enough design wall so I marked out an area on my kitchen floor of the right size and built up the design to fit. Here’s a picture of the improv background in progress.
Once the background was complete I started on the numbers. I have lived in thirteen houses in my life and appliqued all these numbers on my quilt. Here’s my finished quilt hanging in the gallery at the show:
I was delighted to see my quilt on show and it was also wonderful to see the many other interpretations of the theme in the gallery. There were eighteen quilts hanging in all – representing most of the Guild regions, but also the specialist groups. I took a turn stewarding the gallery at the Festival and feedback from visitors was brilliant. Everyone was drawn to a particular quilt for their own reasons and it was lovely to chat to others about how they viewed the quilt. I’m really looking forward to seeing the YQ gallery this year – if your quilt is going to be there, make sure to let us know in the comments below.