October 7, 2015

A Room of Her Own

"A Room of Her Own"

I just completed this wall quilt!  It was commissioned by a wonderfully thoughtful husband in honor of his wife's milestone birthday.

It is inspired by a quilt I made 1999, called "Memories of Spring" (21"x19").

He liked the airy, dreamy, and old-fashioned homey look of the quilt.  He asked for a larger piece with personalized references to the things his wife loves and to their family.  The idea grew from there, with both of us making additions to the contents of her "room".  Here's the initial sketch.

His wife is a poet, so that is a big part of the theme.  He sent me one of her poems.  The top two pages on the table have a tiny, scribbled version of the beginning of the poem, as if in progress.  The open book has an even tinier, scribbled version of a poem by one of her mentors, and the book on the right is a favorite book about poetry.  He had sent me a photo so I could replicate the book cover.

The vase of flowers contains one flower representing each family member and his wife's ancestors.

The view out the window is the Maine seacoast, one of her favorite places.

As far as construction details.......

There were many sketches until the final size and arrangement were determined.  The husband sent photos of the Maine coast, lighthouses, the poetry book, etc.  Their daughter requested a glass vase.  And so on.

I took photos to help me get a feel for the dimensions and shapes.  I sketched to scale in Illustrator, and made little tracing paper templates for all the appliqués. 

The next step was the fabric search.  I had trouble finding the main fabric for what I've been calling the "wallpaper".  In the prototype, this was a piece of vintage fabric.  Both in-person and online searching - looking for a white ground with a clear blue, somewhat large flower - didn't turn up anything similar.  I bought 5 or 6 different pieces and auditioned them all.  Most of the larger flowers on white were too bold and contrast-y.  (Bold prints are really in these days.....)  We finally settled on a good blue, on a slightly creamy ground, and smaller flowers.  

There was lots of trial and error on the rest, using fabrics from my stash, until I found a blend I really liked.  The gingham border is a vintage, woven gingham.  The glass vase is a blue sheer overlaid on a metallic variegated sheer.  The lace curtains are taken from an old slip. 

Probably the most exciting was finding the fabric for the book cover - the actual book has a blueprint of white irises leaning in on a blue ground.  I used a little snippet from a decorator fabric. 

I took more photos to help me get the real shapes of the papers - a much squarer shape than I'd imagined!  I changed the scale of the photos until the papers were the size I wanted for the quilt, and then traced them in Illustrator.

Appliqué fabrics were interfaced and cut, then machine stitched with invisible thread.  Poems were scribbled with a Pigma pen.  (That was surprisingly easy!)  Borders added.

Then the top was layered with batt and back (using one of the rejected wallpaper fabrics for the back).  I put simple machine quilting around the appliqués. 

The curtains were hand-stitched.  Tiny pearl beads and two styles of iridescent sequins were attached with stitches all the way through the quilt, functioning like ties.  The pen was added late in the process because it took me a while to figure out what to do.  I ended up couching down a piece of embroidery floss and adding details with a metallic thread.

Then binding and a sleeve on the back.

Finally, the dedication and my signature, which are on the back.  I sign my art quilts with a appliqué of my handprint.  This time in addition to the title and my name and the date, there is the dedication to the wife with her birthdate, and also the names of the family members.

All in all, a most heartfelt gift!  It was a real treat to be part of the process.

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