All things bright and beautiful

In the midst of all our global current Pandemic challenges, the month of May has included some rewarding and time-filling activities including discovering the healing power of working with a bright color palette. As it happens, our daughter loves a broad spectrum of bold hues (think “Fiestaware”) and has expressed a desire to have a Moroccan-inspired quilted throw for her living room. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to make one for her. This particular project will replace a relatively tired High School Musical Theater Tee-shirt single-size quilt I made for her circa 2004 which has served as a picnic blanket, college dorm bedspread among other things) The fabrics for the new throw are now collected and cut. The piecing process has also begun in earnest with a projected completion target date sometime before Christmas.

With a Moroccan theme as my inspiration, I finally landed on two block designs that are new to me, Jessica Van Denburgh’s “Gaslight” from which is a clever variation of a traditional “drunkard’s path” block and reminds me of some shapes I’ve seen in various tile designs and “Moraccan Star” from Shelley Cavanna of which features a handy sew-cut-flip-press piecing method for all the little triangles included in each block. (Soooo much easier!) Both blocks require precision cutting and piecing followed by careful trimming to achieve the desired size and consistent effect. It’s been a slow process, but what I’m discovering is that working with all the beautiful and bright colors brightens my mood and gives me an abundance of joy on a daily basis.

After my initial blocks started to come together, it was exciting to see how each color combination would emerge and be brought to life with each passing day.

Beginning the piecing process for the first two “Gaslight” blocks the quilt top.
“Moroccan Star” blocks to be interspersed throughout the underside, background fabric. My hope is that the back of the quilt will be as appealing as the front resulting in a “reversible” throw when all is said and done.
Can you tell I LOVE batik fabric?

I’m already thinking ahead about how I want to quilt this bold little throw. Unlike my last two quilts, which include straight line grids and lots of “stitch-in-the-ditch” quilting detail, for this project, I plan to employ “free-motion” quilting throughout. I’m still on the fence regarding whether or not to change thread colors to match each gaslight fabric color. Using one uniform thread color such as matching the royal blue background fabric, might be faster to quilt, but I don’t want to risk defusing the striking brilliance these bright pops of color afford. While it’s ultimately more time-consuming to change thread colors as I go, I’m thinking it might be fun to employ free-motion elements inspired by the fabric. For example, free-motion “pebbles” for the teal and royal blue fabric with all the little circles within the print or a sunburst pattern for the orange batik with a similar motif. As for the thread itself, I’m venturing into new territory, exploring the “So Fine” 50 weight 100% poly thread by Free motion quilting maven and author, Angela Walters swears by it along with Aurifil for a 100% cotton thread option.

As much as my back and shoulders would love my bringing this project to someone with a long arm quilting machine, the creative design challenges described above inspire me to do the whole process on my own.

Speaking of my back and shoulders, I’ve started taking more frequent breaks as I sew and cut out fabric, both to stretch my body and to engage in deep, relaxation breathing. This practice has proven a real game-changer where my overall stamina is concerned. Not only do I have more physical energy as a result, but my mind and ability to concentrate are fresher when I return to the task at hand. Admittedly it is always hard to stop what I’m doing in the middle of an inspiring project, but implementing this brief, periodic gift to myself yields such positive and lasting benefits. I expect this habit will remain a regular part of my creative process moving forward.

The next installment in this current current odyssey is soon to follow.

2 Replies to “All things bright and beautiful”

  1. Delightful yet sophisticated. Can’t wait to see the result. And good for you for taking those stretching and breathing breaks. I’ve run across quite a few articles in the last two months that tout the benefits of deep, intentional breathing.
    (p.s. I vote for matching the thread to each section, since you’re taking breaks and all:-)


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