Thursday, June 12, 2014

Frances Benton IQA quilt

I am finally onto the handstitching of this quilt's binding.  This is heading to IQA to be displayed at IQF in the fall.  I was asked to quilt one of about a dozen of Frances Benton's applique tops.  As the story goes, at some point she stopped making quilts and began making just tops.  I just wonder when I die if I will have that many that are actually finished for quilting (versus being in a bunch of pieces, as the reality is!).
My best guess is that this top was made in the late 1980s, or early 1990s.  I am just guessing based on the aqua print used for the sashing and the border.  It's kind of thin, and has painted "calico" on it.  It just reminds me of material I used WAY back when.

When I started on the quilt, I felt strongly that the quilting needed to fulfill two objectives.  First, it should compliment the quilt, and secondly it should be in keeping with the era that I believe the quilt was made. Twenty years ago, quilting designs and motifs were simpler, and more traditional.  Beyond that, time would tell.  I double batted this with Hobbs polydown and Hobbs 80/20 battings.  It gives a nice amount of lift beneath the appliques, and shows the relief of the quilting.  I chose Filtec Glide ivory thread for most of it.  I know in the era, it would have been hand quilted with cotton thread, but this is dull and I just wanted another element to the quilt.  The slight sheen is good.  There are touches of SoFine and Invisifil and monofilament on the baskets too.
 Many might comment that swags are out.  In today's quilting I would most definitely agree.  For a quilt like this, though, I couldn't think of a more time-appropriate motif.  This outer border is nearly 11", so I had to do some magic to break it up a little.  The swag gives a nice visual element, and it plays very nicely with the very linear block setting.  Inside of the swag, I feathered, outside of it, I pulled a modern filler which I like.  The McT has good movement, and is easy to get in and around all of the applique nicely.
So that it wouldn't be too boring, I placed the curved cross-hatch motifs in the corners of the border as well as the center of the borders.  It ties together with the Xhatch in the blocks, and fits the space beautifully. There are free placed sprays of feathering along the grape vine too.  I didn't go 100% overboard with feathers, as this IMHO lacks a sense of design.  Good design incorporates a few key motifs, and then they are repeated to create cohesion...feathers, cross-hatching, and linework.  I think it works; I just hope others do.
 Here's another look at the corner and border.  There are over 500 of these grapes or berries, all of which are outline stitched to give them definition.  My arms are very glad this task is done!
 It is always interesting to see how a block design done in one block will look when there are 12 blocks.  I love the secondary designs that form, like the illusion of the xhatched circular wreaths.
The fabric on the sashings is a very hard type material to work with.  It is a densely printed calico.  I didn't think that feathers would show up on it.  I didn't honestly know what would!  I chose to stitch linear 1/2" spaced lines instead.  The cornerstones are where a little modern flair sneaks in again.  I knew I had selected a fine red and ivory stripe for the binding, so I wanted to bring a little red in on the sashings.  But these things are hard to get thread to show on unless it is densely stitched!  These diamonds are "scribble filled" (ladies lingo "densely stippled, and stippled again!").  To quilt anywhere like this is a complete leap of faith. Seriously, there really is no pulling all of these stitches out!  I knew after I had a few of them done that I loved the effect.
Just a couple more pictures...  Here is a block~ I hope these would suit Frances' image of how she wanted her quilt finished.  I just wish I could see all of them in Houston this year...not sure that trip will be in the cards unless they accept my quilts (and I hear of an award!)...too many ifs probably.
 This is a quick peek at the back.  It is a soft aqua, and looks really pretty.  Not any visible thread other than the red diamonds - just texture.  The quilt needs a very good blocking to straighten a few lines and make it lay flat.  These very large borders suffered from the same fate that many do - excess fabric at the edges.  I suspect a good block should take care of it though.  Given my history with bleeding fabrics, I won't touch this with a 10' pole though!  Red and white...No way!  Hopefully Frances was better at prewashing than I sometimes am.
This is the before picture...I think it looks pretty nice finished!  Hopefully the clients will as well.


15 comments:

Vicki said...

I LOVE what you have done! I'm sure Frances would be happy if she were still alive. You've done her work great justice.

Vicki W said...

You really made this one special. I especially like the wreaths around the sashing.

Leeanne said...

Swags in , swags out, who really cares, this is perfect!

LynCC said...

The strategy definitely worked! :) The swags are perfect, and I really love the way the corners of the blocks give off almost a NYB ghost effect in the secondary patterns. Love the red-scribbled cornerstones.

Sandi Griepenstroh said...

Of course they will accept your quilts! Your work is beautiful! Congrats on all of your awards at Paducah. I saw your work in the recent issue of American Quilter. Inspiring!

Chantal Thibodeau said...

Hi. I really like how you explain with so much details your quilting choices. And I like even more the quilting history class. I'm not quilting for that long to have all that knowledge, it's quite impressive. You seems to have a special care to keep the quilt in his era, I found that remarkable.

Deb Cavanaugh said...

Wonderful, wonderful wonderful. If I were the customer I would be over the moon.

sunny said...

Very impressive. You put a lot of thought into the quilting, and it really is perfect.

kaypaul said...

Your quilting is so gorgeous! I went to quilt camp earlier this week and showed some of my fellow campers pictures of the quilts you have quilted for me. They were so impressed with your quilting that I think they forgot to look at my piecing!!

Michele said...

As always I'm floored by your work. I can only hope that one day I can do half as beautiful work.

Sandi said...

I agree with Leeann - swags in, swags out... Your choices are perfect for this quilt. Do you design your whole quilt project in your head as you go? On paper? Or on a computer? Beautiful work!

Sandi said...

I agree with Leeann - swags in, swags out... Your choices are perfect for this quilt. Do you design your whole quilt project in your head as you go? On paper? Or on a computer? Beautiful work!

Amy Johnson said...

McTavishing and ruler work--swoon.... Beautiful stitching and complements the top so well.

Karen said...

I think that is is absolutely stunning! Thank you so much for explaining why you did what you did! I agree with everyone else...I think the client will love this! Beautiful work!

dq said...

Beautiful workmanship especially on the border. The quilt is very lovely.