Saturday, November 19, 2011

Constructing "Surprise in the Midst of Drought"

My little quilt's construction process was basically so simple, that I almost hesitate to write a process post.  But you know me--I love posting, so I'm going to write about it, despite the fact that likely no one will learn anything new from my describing the process!  As I did before, 
I'll post some pictures and discuss the construction in the captions.

I started with this photo.  Noting the colors of the dead grasses and weeds,
I chose chiefly batik fabrics from my stash that echoed those colors.  I had
no lavender for the flowers, so I bought a fat quarter of lavender batik
and also some yellow glass beads.  I luckily had a wonderful leaf-print
batik for the leaves.

After adhering fusible (I used Wonder Under) to fabric pieces cut in 3" or 4" strips, I cut
them again into random widths and lengths.  Then I began
laying them out on the background fabric (which was a leftover hand-painted
piece from another quilt).  I had cut the background over-sized and adhered
it to some fusible fleece.  Once I had my "weeds" in place, I fused them, using a
fairly hot iron and parchment paper laid over, to protect my iron from the glue.

Next I cut free-hand, just using the photograph as a rough guide, the leaves from the
leaf-printed batik fabric, which had also been prepared with the Wonder Under.  These, too, were fused down.

I couched some gold yarn here and there on the quilt to add another color and
some texture or dimension.  I purchased a couching or braiding foot for
my Bernina at the Houston Quilt Festival, anticipating this step.  It worked
beautifully for this regular wool yarn.

I loved the look of this "hairy" yarn, but soon learned NOT to couch
it with my couching foot, but to pull the loose strands to
one side as I zig-zagged over the yarn to couch it down, using one
of my open toed feet.

I hand-sewed the yellow glass beads to the purple centers of the lavender flowers and then
appliqued the flowers down with a zig-zag stitch.  The leaves were
similarly appliqued.

I backed the quilt with a batik fabric which picked up
the colors of the quilt, and I used this same
fabric for the binding, applied in the conventional
way, except that I decided not to miter the corners.
As you can see, the quilt was quilted with the embroidery
floss and an embroidery running stitch BEFORE backing and binding,
as I didn't want to have to hand-stitch through three layers, especially
with one of the layers being the hard-to-penetrate batik.

Here you can see that I used some olive green floss here and
there, in addition to the light brown.

I love the look of hand-stitching with floss on art quilts--a technique
used occasionally in the inspirational TWELVE BY TWELVE
book.  My arthritic hands find it easier to stitch using this
running stitch than with tiny conventional quilting stitches.


  1. Absolutely fab tutorial or process posting. Thanks. It makes me wish I had not forgotten to pick up the couching foot I inquired about at Baby Locke. Also, nothing quite excites me like the hand stitching! Good job.

  2. Terrific, informative tutorial, thank you so much! I especially like seeing the photograph that inspired you to begin with.

  3. You're explanations are ALWAYS so helpful, Alice. Thanks for sharing your process with us!

  4. Thank you so much for taking us through the process for this quilt. The quilt is quite wonderful, and seeing and reading about how it grew adds so much to the story.