I just finished the third in my series of apple tree quilt commissions this week.
In spite of my ongoing struggles with not having a completely finished studio set up, I happen to be very pleased with how it turned out.
My one missing item was my longarm machine which was being shipped from the factory in Texas. The manufacturing process took much longer than anticipated so my dealer generously allowed me to come and use their machines while I waited for mine.
Olde City Quilts has a wonderful set up with two machines for customers to rent. They have a continuous flow of people walking through the store to attend classes and they have a luscious selection of many brands of thread, fabric and notions. It’s a place with lots of buzz! They are dealers for various brands, including Innova longarms and Bernina sewing machines.
I found that if I traveled there mid-day I could make it in around 35 minutes from my home. The time required for the return trip varied wildly, though, in heavy evening traffic. Nevertheless, I’m grateful they invited me to use their machines so I could finish this project on time!
Here is a photo of the beautiful gradient dyed by Vicki Welsh. It was 108″ wide by 2 1/2 yards. I trimmed about 4 inches off the top and bottom to get the required dimensions but I was glad to have a little extra just to make sure I could square it off.
I had already cut out the apple tree as per previous editions of this quilt and here I am auditioning a silk to use for the sun. All applique is raw edge and fused on. The sun is stitched with a double blanket stitch as you will see in later photos.
One nice thing was having lots of space not yet taken up by the longarm machine so I had plenty of room for painting the quilt on the floor. I taped large pieces of trash bags together to protect my floor and gave the fabric a nice color wash of very diluted yellow transparent paint to create the hills. My goal was a spring green. It’s always a tricky thing to do color wash because you can’t always tell what the color will look like until it is dry. This one turned out to be very chartreuse so I had to give it another wash of kelly green to tone it down later. I ran the fan all night to let it dry and weighted the corners down of jars of paint.
The next step was quilting the background and tree then couching the tree. I must say this was the most fun part of creating this whole quilt. I switched the hopping foot out with the couching foot and went to town with creating lots of texture. The hardest part was remembering how to get the yarn through the couching foot. I found the video which shows it very clearly and I was off. Here is a link to the video for those of you who might be interested in getting these couching feet for your longarm. It’s so easy!
I just picked up a nice inexpensive worsted weight yarn at JoAnn’s which worked just fine.
Here you can see some of the knots I added simply by couching some spirals into the trunk.
I had previously created the apple blossoms by finding some images on Wikimedia Commons where I found lots of copyright free images. I manipulated them in Photoshop to create dimension and various sizes. Here is one set of images.
I printed these out on cotton inkjet printing sheets from Jacquard on my home printer. I then ironed MistyFuse to the back and cut them all out. It took a couple of evenings while watching TV. These were then fused on and stitched on with monofilament thread.
I also scattered some on the ground around the base of the tree.
All my quilting on this is self guided quilting, meaning I did not use a programmed software to do the quilting. I loved doodling and my intent was to create a serene sky but a sense of movement in the grass of the hills below.
Here is another detail shot of the sky, blossoms and tree branches.
I added a few dabs of pale pink paint, undiluted, for the blossoms on the distant trees.
I was able to deliver and install the quilt one day before the deadline. It looks a bit dark here since they have no spot lights for the space yet.
There is a renovation planned for this space so I’m told they will have good lighting installed in the future. Yay!
I’m sure the residents and guests of Souderton Mennonite Home will be happy for the opportunity to see a work promising springtime coming soon!