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I've had this quilt sitting around for about nine months because I haven't had the faintest idea what to do with it. I suspected that it was best suited to free-motion machine quilting, and as I can't use a sewing machine that wasn't something I could just pick up overnight. However, my hand quilting has improved a lot since then, my stitches are smaller, I'm less afraid of seam allowances, and most importantly, I've learned more about quilting patterns. I remembered that there's a competition coming up which it's ideally suited to, as the theme is "Beside the Sea", and having just checked, the deadline is early July. Plenty of time, even if I quilt it quite densely, and at 22" x 26" I can afford to.

So here is my first idea, based on chatting with someone who brought up spirals. You can't go wrong with a good spiral!

Shell quilt - quilting pattern 1

And here is the original pieced top. If you fancy sketching yourself, try saving this photo to your computer, printing it out, scribbling over it in pencil, and then scanning it in or photographing it to show me.

Shell quilt top

What do you think, folkses? It's the first actual idea I've had. The wavy lines may be a bit on the dense side, they're about 1/3" apart as far as I can guess, though that's something I can fiddle with. I'm having difficulty working the curve around the spiral when it comes to the next line, but again, practice will probably help. Current idea is to alternate light and blue thread for the sea, one line of quilting per colour, and then move into cream and copper brown thread on the beach, where the wavy lines handily give a similar effect to wet sand.

For the shell - well, first of all remember that the centre of that shell is crazy small curved piecing, bits as little as 1/4" x 1/2", and even with stab stitch I do not want to be getting into that sort of thing unless I really have to. I'd quilt in the ditch around the main spiral, and then start quilting a curved line down the middle of each shell segment (which are all made of two pieces each, but that was only to make the piecing easier), starting, er, well probably not at the very smallest pieces in the middle, but I'd see what was manageable. For the top part of the shell, gentle curved lines continuing that idea, and then waves/spirals where the sea is lapping over the edge and I have those blue/beige triangles. I haven't drawn anything over the two small beige triangles at the bottom of that section, perhaps I should? I'm also trying to work out colours. Copper brown, perhaps, and then light or medium blue alternating with cream for the lapping sea bits?

Border - apart from where the sea gets into it, haven't the foggiest idea. Nor do I know what to do with those three blue triangles in the bottom right. There are three beige fabrics used for the border, by the way: one saltwash semi-plain, one paisley, and one with a design of small blue flowers.

Any ideas, guys? Modesty aside, I think I did a bloody good job on the piecing, and I don't want to let it down at the quilting stage.

Quilting Water Ripples

Date: 25 Feb 2011 10:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] virginiadear.livejournal.com
I'd quilt the border, definitely. Part of the great visual interest of this piece is that illusion of seeing the chambered nautilus on the sandy bottom as the viewer is looking *through* the water.
My first thought about that was that I'd use a thread in the same color family as the sand, so the stitches aren't obvious, but then I thought a bit more and thought, "Perhaps they should be. The bottom, near the shore, ripples because of the action of the water, even if there aren't waves or distinct surf."
And then I thought, "What if some of those stitches in the border were in "water" hues, blue and aqua and cerulean and turquoise and teal?"

My inclination would be to continue the ripples and spirals, but my initial impulse would be to make those less dense than the body of the quilt...perhaps sort of fading out the stitching by making it less densely applied, in that way photographic or artistic vignettes are done, you know?

Not that you haven't done a fabulously successful job with your fabric color placement as well as with the piecing!

Any road, those are my two cents' worth. If your hands can take it, then I say go for it and show off your fine stitching with your quilting!

Re: Quilting Water Ripples

Date: 26 Feb 2011 04:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] virginiadear.livejournal.com
By "less dense," I was thinking fewer lines of quilting, spaced farther apart. Doesn't have to be dramatically less dense; trust your artistic judgment.

I suppose regarding the nautilus shell, I'm too literal-minded. It's a deep sea dweller. While it hunts for its food in "less deep" waters, I *believe* the only time it comes into actually shallow waters is for reproduction.
The other thing (being quite literal-minded, still) is that your nautilus is on its side, which is how we're able to recognize it, but in life the nautilus has "countershaded" shell, meaning that underneath it's lighter so that when seen from below it blends better with the lighter environment above it; and it's darker on top, so that when viewed from above it's not so apparent against the darker background of the depths beneath it. It's in the best interest of the living nautilus to stay either hidden or more or less upright (as it presumably is while on the move.) I don't know how often nautilus shells are seen in water so clear and shallow (and presumably still) that we can see the botton, but I'd assume the creature would be dying or dead, because it's on its side.
But the work is *your* artwork and can be anything you like. I'm just explaining why I've assumed the shell is on the sea bottom, but the bottom very close to a sandy beach in paddling-depth water, very clear, and with a mild, clear, sunny day to go beach combing.
H'mm...both too literal-minded and too imaginative at the same time, perhaps...?

Re: Quilting Water Ripples

Date: 26 Feb 2011 04:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] virginiadear.livejournal.com
Oh; I didn't answer your other questions.

I'm useless when it comes to ideas about binding, you know.
This, "there's a row of triangles/strip that goes into it just over half way up, where you have three turquoise triangles on the left, two greenish triangles on the right, and a fairly subtle medium/dark blue for the rest of the strip. That fabric might work," I'd assumed was pieced.
It seems to me you need to ask yourself how well-defined a *frame* you want for this quilt, because binding or borders do act as a frame, visually. Do you want the quilt to allow the viewer "zero entry," as they say of swimming pools without a distinct rim or edge but where you begin by stepping into the outer edges of a puddle (in the shallow end, of course?) That allows the viewer to drift in an out.
Do you want something clearly defined, even "walled off" from the rest of the environment, something which has its own unmistakable space in your visual space or in the viewer's visual space, so that entering or leaving the view of the quilt is like entering or leaving a building with a doorman or an actual *guard?* A barrier you have to pass to 'get into' the work of art?
Or something less formidable, more like a garden gate with no lock: you have to open it in order to enter or leave the garden (it closes automatically behind you), but you can do it easily and you can just as easily leave the space that is the garden, yet you're aware of leaving; it just doesn't feel so abrupt a transition as the "walled off" experience, immediately above?

As for the threads, I think on the shell I'd look for a "low contrast" which would provide texture because of the stitching (it does make slight, subtle 'ditches'), without shrieking "Here I am! Look at me!" Not stark white, but perhaps a pale beige? A sand color?
In the water/sand area, I being the person I am, would go all or nothing: either threads which blended very closely with the colors of the fabric they're being used on, or threads which made themselves very obvious by their high contrast against the colors of the fabrics they're being used on.
Until we get to the border area, and then I'd be looking for "equal value," something as light or as dark, but not necessarily a matching *color.*
Hope that makes some sense.... This hasn't been a good weekend for e-communication, so far. ):^(

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