My friend S. commissioned me to make a quilt, specifically with a tree of life motif that represented her wonderful life with her spuuse and their son. Working within a specific budget, I suggested a really raw-edge applique, one which would allow me to make something beautiful yet not break the bank. This quilt, I figured, could (and would!) be done entirely with my Gammill, cutting out the middle step of appliqueing everything down. It worked perfectly! So here’s how I did it:
I started off with different bonsai tree shapes for inspiration, and used part of Rose Hughes’ method, fast piece applique, for the actual tree and its limbs, and the ground. Rather than stitching the pieces together as Rose does, though, I used a very, very thin line of glue and heat set it (like Sharon Schamber does for quilt binding!). This held up incredibly well despite being flung around and put up and down on design walls and being rolled back and forth on the frame. I also used Sew-line’s glue stick, which was a little more pliable, but which didn’t hold as tightly.
S. really loves batiks and fall colors, which I think added to the ability to play with color and value. Once the tree was settled (I put it slightly above middle-center to allow for it to hang off the foot of the bed), I stitched it down around the edges, about 1/’8″ in, using 17-18 stitches per inch. I went around all the edges of every new fabric, which really took care of nailing everything down! And then I quilted the detail inside of the tree.
I originally had basted the entire quilt using regular thread since I rolled it back and forth so much, but next time I think I will either just use flat-head pins or vanishing thread (since I knew I would be washing it to check for color fastness–I had prewashed by hand ALL my batiks to make sure nothing would run.) You can see the basting threads in my last post–the big purple things!
So, now, here is the finished project. I am so happy with how it turned out, and I actually got all teary when I got a picture from my friend show it it to me in its new home. Making this quilt made me feel like an artist.
One of the things I’ve learned as an archaeologist is that objects that we make live out their own history, sometimes independent of us. I love that I got to make something like this, to try out new techniques, and to challenge myself to make something that was my own creation but which allowed me to collaborate on someone else’s vision. Thank, you, S. for making this possible!
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