Thursday, November 15, 2012

Alice's Travel Quilt--Norway

The Hanseatic Wharf, Bergen, Norway

Two different cruises to Norway were dreams come true for me.  Ever since as a teenager I read the trilogy KRISTIN LAVRANSDATTER by Noble Prize-winner Sigrid Unset, I have been fascinated by Norway.

The cruises were different, though there were a few duplicate ports.  During both, we feasted our eyes on deep-blue fjords, majestic mountains, charming villages with wooden houses and public buildings painted in all the colors of the rainbow.  One such colorful port was Bergen, where we spent hours wandering in the shops and open food markets of the Hanseatic Wharf.

My quilt depicts this part of Bergen.  I based it on a photograph, but I simplified and changed the building colors.  I fused the buildings and dock to pieces of hand-painted sky and water-look batik.  I embellished the wooden buildings with perle embroidery thread, using the chain, running, couching (on the boat masts), and back stitches, stitching through to the batting.  Because penetrating the layers of batiks, Wonder Under, and batting took much effort (I even resorted to a pair of small pliers to pull the needle through on occasion!) I inked in many of the details (windows, doors), rather than embroidering them. I drew the two sailboats with ink, as well, and added details on the freehand-cut swans (which look more like ducks!) and the buoy.   Though I was hoping to embroider sky and water, I ended up doing some simple and random machine quilting.  And I thread painted the white lines that represent the furled sails on the two boats.

I learned a lot with this quilt about what NOT to use, when attempting to use Laura Wasilowski’s wonderful methods (in FANCIFUL STITCHES—COLORFUL QUILTS)!  I even emailed her, telling her of my frustrations.  She suggested wool batting (I had used 100% cotton) and being careful not to “over fuse” the appliques until the quilt was completed.

This quilt was finished with a Wonder-Under fused binding, and I used the same fabrics that appeared at the edges of the quilt to make it less obtrusive.

P.S.  This quilt is now two-sided!  I took a page from Nedra's book and fused my first Travel Quilt to the back of this one!  That quilt I called Postcards from Norway.  I printed favorite photos from my two cruises to June Taylor photo transfer fabric.  Then I constructed a background that replicated the Norweigan flag.  I then fused the 4 mock "postcards", as well as the back of a postcard (made from a stamp), to the background.  I inked a message and an address on this back, to make it look more authentic.  I frankly loved this quilt, but after listening to advice from several, I decided to use #2 (the scenic one above) as my "reveal" quilt.  I still think I like the postcard one the best!


  1. Your charming piece with the simplified architecture, boats, birds and floaters make me want to travel there. Your experience makes me a fan of applique or piecing rather than fusion.The joy of viewing and doing hand stitching could be cramped by needing pliers. Everything in its place. Glad you contacted Laura W for advice and passed it on. She has good advice on embroidery thread and needle sizes as well, which I had to consult for my piece!

  2. I'm particularly intrigued by your binding method. I've yet to try this. It seems too complicated. Perhaps at some point you will describe in detail how you do this? Do you lay the binding down and then finish out the pictorial details that fall on the edges? I'm having trouble envisioning the process. Alice, I admire and appreciate your pictorial expressions. You seem to have a knack for them. You inspire me to try some also.

  3. Like Carolyn's quilt depicting ( what I consider) a moment in time, this quilt very much represents a much looked-forward to experience in Norway. You have chosen the perfect section of batik to represent the water, and I love how you have utilized embroidery to embellish the buildings...adds to their charm!

  4. Thanks for sharing a special spot in Norway with us. It is such a fun and serene quilt. Love the hand embroidery even though it sounds like it was a difficult task at times. Sweet quilt!

  5. Lovely quilt --- I love the way you did this. ss

  6. A lovely quilt, Alice, and a great reminder of your trip to Norway. I love the little houses, boats and birds. It is so serene and peaceful, and beckons me on a journey to Norway!

  7. This is a wonderful travel quilt. You read so much! I want to look these books up. The back of the quilt is wonderful, too. What great memories to set in fabric.