I am really excited to present you my Aurifil Artisan April Showcase featuring my favorite thread weight. It’s taken me so long to finish this project but it was perfect timing for this month’s showcase.
Although I do love all of the Aurifil threads, I am quite pleased with the 40wt threads I’ve used to quilt my project (note that bobbin is a 50wt thread). Being a heavier weight means it’s thicker than the 50wt and it has a shine that makes the quilting come alive. I really love the finished look. Especially in the quilting of the sun where I played with two different thread colors: snow and yellow.
Finishing this project took me a little over a year and it was worth it!
The story behind the quilt
It all started on December 2018, when I decided that I needed to do something other than my Dancing Diamond designs. Once more I ventured out of my comfort zone to try something I had never done before. I had purchased some greeting cards at a museum near my home that showcased the work of a local artist: Louise Martel. Her work is absolutely breathtaking and I’m in awe of her talent. That’s why I decided to ask her if I could re-create two of her designs as quilts. Imagine how happy I was when she answered YES!
Tackling the project head on was exactly what I did by choosing the perfect fabrics to recreate her magnificent work. Banyan Batiks was just the perfect fabric line as it reflected exactly what I wanted. With the right fabrics, I started hand basting all the little pieces together for a perfect fit. I knew I didn’t want raw edge or satin stitches between each pieces. So they had to be sewn together. Once basted into place, I sewed them tightly with my sewing machine.
Adding some perspective
I wanted to play a bit with perspective in this project and decided that one of the seals’ tails would actually pop out of the quilt. I added black batting and quilted the tail before adding the piece to the rest of the seal. Once every piece was ready, I fused the seal onto the background fabric, leaving a raw edge only around the seal.
Once the seal was in place, I started to work on the sun, mountain and water in the backdrop. At first, I wanted them to be fused onto the backing but I realized that I didn’t like it. It didn’t give the right perspective… they had to feel farther away. That’s when I remembered the reverse appliqué technique and decided to give it a try. I drew the design onto the background fabric and cut out the space and basted the fabrics for the sun, mountain and water into place. This meant that I had to add another piece of fabric underneath to hold everything in place and only then could I remove the basting.
All of this process took place between February and May 2019. I was ready to quilt the project when my life took a different road. For many years I had been pushing myself creatively to work outside my comfort zone, this time I did the same with my own life. I left a 23 years marriage and ventured out on my own, moved into a tiny apartment and started a new life for me and my sons. I absolutely have no regrets, but it did mean that Felix had to wait a while before getting quilted.
Showcasing the quilting
It was only in October that I pulled out the project once more and picked the many Aurifil Threads I needed to quilt. I had taken a private class with Lise Bélanger to ensure that I wouldn’t screw things up. And it was with confidence that I began quilting Felix. I imagined how the sun would reflect on the fur and made the quilting reflect just that. Changing color threads for each piece of fabric. I never imagined how long it would take to quilt such a small area. But it was my meditation, my moment of piece in this chaotic life.
The face was probably my most feared section. It took me weeks to finish it. I started quilting it a certain way and halfway through I decided that I hated it, took it apart and started all over again. Yes I’ve become one of those obsessed quilters! The seal was completely quilted end of March. And the rest of the quilt was designed using a McTavishing Background Filler Stencil. I played with the stencil a lot to recreate the movement I wanted all around the seal.
If I were to listen to my obsessive self… I would still be quilting Felix… trying out new ideas and getting out of my comfort zone once more. But the Aurifil Artisan Showcase featuring my favorite thread weight is for the month of April and there’s nothing like a deadline to get a project through the finish line. And besides, I still have another project based on Louise Martel that I need to work on. Hopefully it won’t take me a year to finish… but no pressure right?
Special thanks and credits go to:
Félix le phoque / Felix the Seal: © Louise Martel, www.nunamar.com