Saturday, 26 December 2015

Once upon a time

in a mind far far away, a thought was born, the thought of a most spectacular quilt, a quilt to keep, a quilt to savour, a quilt for me.

At first it was a nebulous vague thread of thought with little substance.  It was fleshed out with material collected with the quilt in mind.  Jewel tones, beautiful patterns, the building blocks for the beautiful quilt to be, although there was no fixed pattern the probability was of course, something logcabin based.

Without a firm thought to give the quilt voice, other quilts shouted loudly to be made first and their shouts were heard and answered. Years passed, material continued to be collected, admired, folded, stored, periodically unfolded, admired again, stroked and put away.  All beautiful. yet somehow not just right.  Then occasionally patterns other than log cabin made an appearance, lessons were learned, tastes changed and applique made an appearance in my repertoire and still the dream quilt was no more than thought without real shape.

A pivotal moment came with a promotional brochure for a local area, the picture on the front a combination of an actual landmark and an nod to a local legend, it caught my imagination. I have since confirmed that the artist is Anne Yvonne Gilbert who creates amazing art using coloured pencils (among other things), I have shared with her the image of my version of her dragon and happily she thought it  and the other craft based on her art, and I quote were "loverly". Now there was one fixed point in the nebulous thought, the quilt would have a version of that image in the centre and once upon a time became Whisht lads! haad yor gobs, An Aa'll tell ye's aall an aaful story"

So the focus became finding material for dragon skin, green dragon skin mind not just any colour, it had to be green.Fabric was bought, considered, and discarded time and again. Family and friends joined in the search but how could they find what I wanted when I was not even sure myself?

I found some perfect dragon skin but not in the right colour.  It has been used twice for dragons but not for The Dragon for The Quilt! first on a duvet for my brother"inspired by a cross-stitch"  and then on a quilt for my friends son "The Castle, a quilt".

Pivotal moment two was the realisation that I already had some material that would fit as skin and was green.  It had already been in other quilts, not the scale effect the earlier material had , yet now it felt right.  Other material from my stash also suddenly fit for the sky, for the building (at least the colour it will always be in my memory).  Pattern worked out, stitching order for the padding and 3D effect considered I set to.

With cross stitch and other applique I normally have a little quirk, not to do the eyes till last..they watch me.  However, this time I did the eye first, painted with silk paints on satin.

  The green eye made a little appearance in an earlier post.(Eyes of green)

Embroidery Dragon'e Eye
Dragon eye

It did indeed watch me. 
For seven years it watched me.
 As I slowly satin stitched the seams and once again worked on different "me now" projects.

Dragon watching

The building in the design is a real building, a monument that sits on the top of a hill and can be seen for miles around, it connects me to memories of trips to my grandparents. Journeys there and journeys home passing by it's silhouette against the skyline. Memories of climbing up the hill (and on one giggle invoking occasion a piggyback ride to the top) they all played through my mind with each stitch.

Oddly by the time the central design was just about finished my workplace had a view of the same monument.  Not sure my workmates understand why I would want its image when I was away from work.

Once the central dragon was finished out came all the beautiful material collected over the years. None of it was right, the colours were overpowering, the patterns not sympathetic. So once again, a pause, a re-think and the dragon languished on its rectangle of sky and mountain, the tip of its tail dangling un-finished waiting for the main body of the quilt it was to be attached to.

A year or more of waiting and I found it, a large patterned material in beige and grey that would complement, not upstage the dragon. A little thought and some material to hand, previously not considered, with the added advantage of matching my curtains and on to the next stage. Planning the quilt top.  No, I had not firmed up that stage.  Logcabin was still a go to but the tip of tail would not easily stitch over the heavy seams logcabin on curtain weight material would produce. My fingers ached just contemplating it.

Quilt top design

This is my plan for the quilt top, the dragon in the middle large sections of the patterned material around it onto which the tip of tail and some puffs of smoke could reasonably easily be satin stitched then onto the log cabin.

I "fussy cut" the rectangles that would go round the dragon so that the same section of pattern (as near as anyway) would be in the panel.  By this point The Quilt had evolved and had a new working title.  The Monument Dragon.

Monument Dragon

A mad, crazy and my BFF would say very Deborah idea took hold, to quilt a design initially (and still if I ever get to it) created to be carved onto a wooden bowl, around the edges of the quilt.

Bowl dragon

Bowl dragon adapted

Border design

I tried to talk myself out of it however, I refused to listen.  The idea just would not go away. This delay was fortuitous as in the time my mental gyrations were taking place the material used for the edge had proved itself (pulled out mulled over folded and stuffed back) to be too delicate and clicky for such detailed quilting.  Off with the what to use.  Another pause, I knew what would look good, the same material used for the dragon skin but I had used up the little bits I had and there was no more.  Trip to the local shop that had stocked this material in the past. They did again, in pink and red and blue,just not in the green! Then looking through the stash for another "me now" project trying to insert itself before the Monument Dragon there it was, a great big bit of the green.  I can't recall getting a second lot but I must have, either that or my Dragon is magic and impatient to be finished...well you get the idea.

So new boarder attached I can turn my thoughts back to the quilting. Some outline quilting around the Dragon to hold him down (I think it is a him even with those long eye lashes) Small stylised clouds in the sky to hold that down too. Round the Acanthus leaves on the four big panels, then I had just intended to sew in in the Furrow between the green/blue and the beige grey logcabin sections.

And last but not least, that mad idea for the edges.  Now of course one dragon meant for a bowl had to be altered to several to go round a quilt. (well 16 to be exact).

Four fitted reasonably well top and bottom with a small extension of the flame and I was happy with that.

Original small flame design

Four on the sides was not enough, six too many and five uneven, I started out trying to do interlinking flames with a Celtic knot feel.  Theses attempts failed dismally. Then I thought of the frond shapes from the material in the main body of the quilt.  With such a big space to fill nothing was flowing, nothing that is until my narcissistic tendencies raised their head.  This would be my quilt after all, and it would have my name on it, it would have my name on it because it would be mine,.in fact it would have my name on it twice, but subtly, the dragon in the middle is after all the star.  One of the Facebook groups I am a member of  (Our Love of Blackwork, Celtic knots and free links) were supportive even after I moved away from the Celtic knot to the acanthus leaves (I didn't know what they were called till then).

Deborah in acanthus leaves

Quilting marked out I set to, once the Dragon was done I worked outwards and realised as I moved onto the sew in the furrow that the blue/grey sections being larger needed more. Pondered puzzled and the obvious hit me, bigger stylised clouds.  Marking on with the wadding in is not the best way to go but newly made cardboard cloud stencil (cereal boxes are our friends) I managed then it was to be back to the stitching.

Corner with linked dragon tails

Once the main section was done it was time to move onto the dragons. I wanted subtle but still visible.  The dragons took time, more time and I began to wonder if it was a step too far  and shades too light.  But the phrase I've started so I'll finish ran through my mind often and I kept going.

Monument Dragon on the hoop

Got to the end and with only the binding to go started to have withdrawal before I had even finished.  Life without The Quilt lurking in the back of my mind.

I had some material ready for the binding, the same shade as the spine on the central dragon, it felt appropriate the binding looking like it was made from dragon..  A pause as Mint Tulip now took precedence and the Monument Dragon once more had to wait

Gold edge

Here it is before washing to take out all the markings, a nervous moment washing, will it all come out (so far it always has) and in this case would the dragons, my name, flames and date round the edge be visible enough once the pen had gone?

2014 becomes 2015

Oh yes the date, I forgot to mention that, my first optimistic marking of the date was for a 2014 finish it got over written with 2015.  The delay did allow for a more fitting style of numbering to come to mind. You can see both dates here being breathed out by dragons.

Here it is

Dragon Monument Quilt

Well, yes the marking pen all came out, and yes the stitching was a bit too light so the quilting on the edge is not easy to see.  However, I know it is there and after some contemplation (and knowing making it stand out more would be difficult) I am content with that. 

2015 without markings

So now that it is finished..what will be the next long for me project I wonder..hmmm

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