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Winter Apple Tree

The second in a commission series

winter apple tree

Last fall I was approached by the administration at Souderton Mennonite Homes about creating a commissioned artwork for their chapel space.  The resulting Autumn Apple Tree was created and you can read about it in the previous blog post here.

autumn apple tree

This Autumn quilt was in the works when they requested that I make a series of four works, each depicting a different season.

Today I want to take you through the process for the Winter Apple Tree quilt.  I envisioned a cold winter scene with snow piled on bare branches.  Thinking that white and gray would be the logical choices, I found only bleak fabrics which did little for me.  Then I happened onto this Blue Sky Gradient hand dyed by Vicki Welsh (

winter apple tree

It seemed to be the perfect solution for a winter scene which would be uplifting instead of dreary.

A color wash of white transparent paint fabric paint over the lower portion of this fabric was my choice to depict the hills.  I had large trash bags spread out under this fabric in order to paint it.  This gradient was so beautiful I didn’t want to cover up.  Here you can see the resulting background.

Winter apple tree

I used the same pattern and placement for the tree, distance saplings and sun, although the sun was moved slightly to the right.

winter apple tree

Northcott Artisan Spirit Shimmer in the Mineral colorway was used for the trees and a white pearlized fabric for the snow drifts on the branches.  The usual silk dupioni was used for the sun with the signature blanket stitch around the edge with my domestic machine.  All had Mistyfuse applied to the back of fabrics before cutting the shapes.  All applique pieces with the exception of the sun were stitched down with straight stitches and with a raw edge.  The straight stitch applique was done on the longarm machine.

My idea for this work was to cover the whole quilt with screen printed snowflakes.  I used a thermofax screen from Lyric Kinard which had 15 snowflakes on one screen.  She appropriately titled it “Blizzard”.


Lyric has a nice collection of thermofax screens for sale.   I also send her images of my own from which she can make screens for me.  She has tutorials on her website about how to alter the images in order to create the best screens.  Check our her website here.

You can see in the picture below, that particular screen leaning up against my sewing machine.  It is only an 7″ x 9″ screen.

It took me quite a while to cover this very large quilt.  I did change the orientation of the screen very often so that there wouldn’t be too obvious a pattern on the overall work.

winter apple tree

For the quilting, I chose a large loopy design.

winter apple tree

There was pressure to finish this quilt quickly since our home had sold, we were selling furniture and packing up for a move to a new location.  This seemed to be the best way to cover lots of territory and also to create the feeling of movement and flow.

winter apple tree

Once I was finished with the quilt and the facing, Rod suggested that I consider adding one red cardinal to the quilt.  Cardinals often hold a special significance to those who have lost loved ones.  It seemed to be a great idea so I found a copyright free image of a cardinal and printed it out on silk fabric with my home printer.  I appliqued it to the quilt, scaling it to fit one of the branches.

winter apple tree

The resulting work is currently hanging in the Souderton Home chapel as you can see below.


I’m not sure the cardinal makes an impact unless the viewer walks up to take a closer look at the quilt.

winter apple tree

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the result.  It does not carry the detail and smaller quilting designs that I usually use but under the circumstances, I was able to complete it in time to finish packing my boxes before the moving truck arrived.

I’m hoping to have a new studio set up by some time in January.  It would be wonderful to be able to create a new quilt with a spring theme in that new space.  Keeping fingers crossed…






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