Every so often, a quilt comes along that demands serious process.
By that I don’t mean the normal round of picking blocks, colours, size, fabric and quilting design. What I mean is that it demands to be considered, mulled over at length, sketched, rubbed out, re-sketched and amended. It needs decisions, notes to be made, and usually, a good bit of time to digest the flood of initial ideas and then reissue them as a design that will work. Usually, I can’t make it up or change things as I go along, or it’ll go haywire.
(Click on any of these images to enlarge)
Knowing I had no hope of getting a quilt to my niece Claire in time for her wedding last year, I promised her a large and spectacular quilt to celebrate the wedding, and it would be ready when it was ready. She’s fine with that, but I’ve allowed too many other projects to insinuate themselves between that promise and now. So it was time to knuckle down and get everything out of my head and onto paper. I have to say, I’m loving this design. It will be very difficult to let it go when the time comes, but that only means I’ve put a lot of myself into it, and that’s as it should be.
The name comes from one of my all-time favourite poems, ‘He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven’ by W.B.Yeats. If you’d like to hear it read aloud by that wonderful actor Antony Hopkins, click this link. It’s beautiful, romantic, heartfelt, and perfect as inspiration for the celebration of a marriage in fabric.
It all started with the idea of a starry night, the ‘heavens’ embroidered cloths’ of the poem, twinkling above a peaceful night time landscape. But I didn’t want a narrative, pictorial quilt, so there’s more to it. The poem will be calligraphed in gold ink around the outside of the landscape, there will be appliquéd trailing ivy, which she loves, a surround of beautiful, intense colours selected with my niece’s favourites in mind, and finally, a lush, heavy border.
I’ve tried hard to think the whole process through, from initial concept through to quilting and finishing, to anticipate the sort of problems which might arise from a project as complicated as this. Undoubtedly there will be curve balls and hiccups, and I will get round them. It’s all part of the journey.
I have two more days of work on something else, and then I will start. Not quite sure where, but probably with cutting 4½” squares for the frame around the central image… I will need more fabrics than those shown above, particularly dark blues, but that’s OK. The finished quilt will be 88″ square, which is why I’ve decided to make it in 9 separate sections, up to and including quilting. I’ll join the sections as almost the last thing, just before binding. It will be far more manageable like that, quilting will be less arduous, and so long as I’m meticulous about keeping to measurements, all should be well.
Lots of potential here for process posting, I think you’ll agree… And I’ll probably be asking for advice or suggestions from time to time, so I hope you don’t get bored of the thing before it’s done. However, you stayed with me all the way through the year of Worldwide Friends, so I can hope!
I have half a year to get it ready – just in time for her first wedding anniversary!