The Tree of Life 15: the birds of the air, and a stage completed.

The front is finished at last.

The Tree of Life complete with fish, birds, fruit, flowers, leaves, roots and branches.

The Tree of Life complete with fish, birds,
fruit, flowers, leaves, roots and branches.

Detail of branches, fruit, flowers and birds

Detail of branches, fruit, flowers and birds

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how it looks. The appliqué process hasn’t drawn up the fabric quite as badly as I feared, but there is a noticeable difference on the sides, where it’s clear the edge bows in towards the middle as a result. I may do a spot of judicious tweaking of seam allowances and trimming to make this defect less obvious. I’m glad I made the leaves smaller, as otherwise I feel it would have looked very crowded. I’m very happy with the pears instead of grapes, and I’m pleased with the birds, which add a lightness and playfulness the fairly formal arrangement otherwise lacked.

The backing, which exactly matches some fabrics on the front.

The backing, which exactly matches
some fabrics on the front.

I was pondering what to do about the backing. Not in any sense of what it would look like – there’s no way I was going to piece something – but what colour to use. As luck would have it, I was able to buy wideback in exactly the right shade of turquoise to go with the turquoise patches on the front. I’ll use the same thing to bind it, a fairly narrow binding, I think. What is chiefly on my mind at the moment is how to quilt it. It clearly needs it, to even out the texture a bit. But I’m not a big fan of close quilting, so I’m doing quite a lot of internal debating. I’ll outline each branch and root and leaf and fruit and flower. I’ll probably run a line up the centre of each leaf, too. I’ll outline the birds and fish, and the red containing circle.  After that, I’m a bit stuck. I badly want to get this quilt finished, so really simple quilting would be the answer there. But I also want to do justice to the design, and something a bit more elaborate is called for in that respect.

Here’s what I’m thinking: The top half, the ‘sky’, I will quilt with big billowy curved cloud shapes, up to the outer margins of the tree. The bottom half, the ‘sea’, I will quilt with long, meandering lines to look like ripples in the water, up to the margin of the roots. Bearing in mind that my quilting skills are modest at best, that I don’t have a very sophisticated sewing machine, and that my workspace is limited, does anyone have any other suggestions? Just be aware that if I lose courage at the beginning of this process, the quilt is going to get plain cross-hatched diagonal quilting over the whole background, stopping short of the outlined design elements!  And if it does, I make no apologies – finished is better than perfect, eh?

Off to press my wideback and cut it to size.  I’m looking forward to your thoughts.

16 thoughts on “The Tree of Life 15: the birds of the air, and a stage completed.

  1. gentlestitches says:

    I think your cloud/ripple idea is a winner. It is looking so wonderful and the turquoise is “just right” 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      I was so happy to get something perfect. The nice thing about the clouds and ripples is that it doesn’t really matter if they’re not perfect – they’re freehand shapes. Always good to get confirmation on an idea!

  2. wombatquilts says:

    Kate this is incredible. No matter how you quilt it, it is gorgeous.

    • katechiconi says:

      Wow, thank you! From you, I take that as high praise! It’s been a stretch of my skills, but I’m happy the applique part is over and I’m looking forward to getting it finished.

  3. Kirsten says:

    Firstly – oooo, pears! I like them. Were they there before? As for the quilting, I like your idea of clouds and waves. Alternatively, a simplier approach may be to stitch around the birds that are outside of the circle, and the fishes in the water and then do some wavy lines along the top of the sea in order to make it more defined. I think that by the time you have quilted the circle and everything inside it (which is the main focus of the quilt) you won’t need much going on outside it. Just a thought.

    • katechiconi says:

      The pears were there in the previous post where everything was pinned on, but they didn’t stand out so much; I’ve used brown to outline them and it makes all the difference. You may be right about keeping the rest of the quilting simple, but I do need to hold the sea and sky layers together or it’ll all sag.

  4. tialys says:

    Those birds have really bought the tree to life and I like the pears – you couldn’t have had grapes anyway, they don’t grow on trees 😉

    • katechiconi says:

      Nor do sunflowers! It’s a mythical tree and can grow flowers and fruit of different species at the same time! I’m really pleased with the birds, they’re nice and abstract but still lively.

  5. Ooooh! Aaaah! (and other very impressed noises)
    Quilting ‘sky’ and ‘sea’ sounds like a great plan. They are both natural shapes that can take a bit of free-motion quilting oopsies, not that you would make any, I am sure. FMQ still makes me nervous.

    • katechiconi says:

      Me, FMQ? Some mistake, surely… I’m going to draw in the lines and use my walking foot. The idea of doing that stuff freehand puts the fear of God into me! But I’m going to be gentle with myself about minor oopsies, and yes, there will be some.

  6. mlwilkie says:

    That is definitely a lot of work. Congratulations!!

  7. itwasjudith says:

    This is so beautiful, amazing work and design!
    I love the pears too, and the leaves and the tree.
    I wish I could purchase one like this 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      Thank you! It’s been a while since I revisited this quilt, and while I know a lot more now, and might do a few things differently, it was still a major challenge and an epic job that took months!

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