Quilting with Anne

[Anne's Crafts]

[The loft with textiles
everywhere]

In the middle of 2000, Anne discovered quilt making. Even before we came to the USA, she wanted to acquire Amish or Shaker quilts, but so far we haven't acquired any. Instead of buying, she decided to try making. The first step was to do a course of watercolour quilt making. The second was to buy a book on quilt-making. The third step was to discover eBay and then acquire a vast library of books on quilt-making. And Anne started making quilts. When I say quilts here, I am not talking about something warm and cuddly that goes on a bed and is generally useful. A quilt, in quilt-making terms, is anything that is decorative and hung on walls. Sometimes, a quilt is made large enough to actually fit a bed, acquire a backing and is then wrapped around a warm bed covering and deserves to be called a quilt.

Anne has been making these quilts for about 6 months. Anne is concentrating on making quilts that are decorative and meant to be hanging on walls. Her first quilt, her first experiment, was taken to completion and now hangs on the wall. The rest are in various stages of being unfinished.

Anne took over the loft, the open area of the second level of the house. The floor is covered with little squares of cloth. The railing is draped with cloth to be used, cloth that has been used, bits of cloth that might be used, quilts that are almost finished, quilts that might be finished, and quilts that will never be finished. It's an impressive sight when you go up there, and you're met with a riot of colour and disorder. The cats love it up there. They frolic amidst the little bits of cloth, building up static charges, acquiring a layer of cloth on their fur, and then they charge around the rest of the house, slowly shedding cloth squares. The whole house takes on a crazy textile feel.

The First Quilt

[Anne's Crafts]

This is an early stage of the first quilt. A foam board is propped on a chair, and a quilt pattern cloth is folded on top. This pattern cloth simply has 2 inch squares marked all over it. Then Anne starts pinning 2 inch squares of cloth in the right place, according to her design. This isn't like painting-by-numbers. The cloth comes from all over the place. There's a network of quilters on eBay who exchange squares of cloth and buy and sell these squares of cloth, just so they can get enough variety. The squares are chosen and pinned to the board. It's like those new computer images that are created from small dots that are created by reducing other photos. The squares of cloth are not supposed to match exactly. They are supposed to blend and be colour harmonious when viewed at a distance. I think an exact match would spoil the effect. [Starting the first quilt]

The design advances. This quilt is suppose to give the effect of looking through a window at a huge flower garden, with the light from the sun bursting through the foliage near the top. The sun effect is created by light shaded squares of cloth in the top centre.

Matching the squares to where they should be is a time consuming task. Anne uses a red coloured device that she peers through. I think it's a red filter and it allows her to match the shades of blue and green, so that she gets pleasing matches between adjoining squares. I've seen her rip down a square foot of squares and rebuild them because one square didn't match another. It takes a long time to arrange all the squares for one of these quilts. This is called "giving visual texture". The effect is achieved by using fabrics with different colours, different colour values, and different lines and designs.

[Nearing the end of the
    first quilt]

Finally, all the squares are attached where Anne wants them. The longest part of the quilt-making process is over. The rest takes next to nothing compared to the sorting and matching process. Each square is attached to the backing board with a pin at the top, and hangs loosely from the pin. [The first quilt with all
    squares arranged]

The quilt is then taken down and all the squares are ironed on to the backing cloth. This sort of fixes them down temporarily. The pins are removed. Then they are all sewn together. This reduces the 2 inch squares of cloth to 1 squares of cloth. At this stage, the quilt is a unified piece of cloth and can be cast aside to pine for finishing. [The pieces have been
    ironed to the backing sheet]

This quilt has a happy ending. It got finished. It acquired a black edge border, and then acquired a rich blue border, a hanging flap at the top, a hanger and it got hung.

It's one of the first things you see when you enter the house now. It's quite effective and very pretty.

[The first quilt finished]

The Piano Quilt

[Anne's Crafts]

The next quilt was a very ambitious project. It's taken forever so far. It's huge. This one is so big, that when it's finished, it might be able to be used as a real quilt on a single bed. It's so big that it couldn't be mounted on a chair downstairs near the TV. It moved up to the loft.

The basic design is a grand piano. The cloth used for the black piano has black background. The white keys are an ivory cloth, but I don't know she's going to do the black keys yet.

Anne bought a series of aluminium shallow pans to contain the cloth, so she could sort the squares by colour and form something a painter's palette. We soon found that the squares could not be constrained. Squares of cloth want to be free. They started spreading all over the floor.

[The floor arrangements
    for the piano quilt]

This shows the full design of the piano quilt. You can see some of the background material near the top, a small test to get the colour right. And you can see the horizontal bar of ivory cloth near the bottom which will form the white keys. [A vertical view of the
    piano quilt]

Work progresses and the piano body gets filled in. I keep hoping that Anne will finish this one, because it looks so impressive. I'm hoping that it won't end up on a bed, but will turn into a wall hanging, because that would look great somewhere in the house.

Our house is slowly turning into a textiles gallery. Turkish carpets and kilims on the floor, Egyptian hangings, Mexican blankets draped over things, quilts hanging, cloth hanging all over the place. It's a bit chaotic but quite pleasant.

[A vertical view of the
    piano quilt]

The Heart Quilt for Rachael

[Anne's Crafts]

Anne made a quilt for Rachael, Bronwyn's new baby. It's a lovely flowery heart on an ivory/yellow background. It looks great. It was originally going to be turned into a real quilt to be laid on top of Rachael. Anne got the squares arranged, ironed, and then stitched together. It's got borders on it now, and just lacks the final bits to turn it into a wall hanging. It's still hanging on the railing (see the first photo above). [Heart quilt for Rachael]

Vase with Sunflowers Quilt

[Anne's Crafts]

This is the quick watercolour quilting method. The other quilts that Anne has done take a lot more time, because effectively, you are painting with colours. These quick watercolour quilts take much less time because the quilts are made from a limited range of colours and cloths. This one is a simple design of sunflowers in a vase. [Starting the Vase of
    Sunflowers]

This shows the pattern finished. The squares now need to be ironed and stitched. It's very effective and very pretty. [Pattern done for the
    Vase of Sunflowers]

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