Secret Gardens

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From draft dated May 20, 2013 at 6:12 am

This was another finish for the Fair, which (I have to say) provided a really good impetus to actually finish such projects that had been lingering for a while – in this case for almost a year.

Secret Gardens - Throw - Cotton, Linen, Rayon 50" x 60" (Approx), 2013

Secret Gardens – Throw – Cotton, Linen, Rayon 50″ x 60″ (Approx), 2013

I participated in a virtual quilt bee about a year ago that included a large pieced block for someone who wanted to make a picnic quilt.  The fabrics she sent were decorator-weight cottons.  She graciously allowed us to keep any leftover scraps and I used mine to piece a free-form block from strips (upper left corner) for no other reasons than that I liked the way the fabrics looked together and they were a small collection that I didn’t want to mix in with my regular scraps.  I made it as big as I could and, when I went to square it up, it came out to 6.5″ cut.

I actually had a collection of decorator-weight cotton/linen scraps – bits left from over 20 years ago when I worked in a decorating workroom, as well as bits acquired since mixed in with other scraps.  Mostly, I use them to piece potholders since the heavier weight makes them that much more insulating.  That one improv square was too small to use as a potholder as it was.  But, it was such fun to make!  I decided to make more such blocks and figure out later exactly what to do with them.

After all was said and done, I was able to manage 36 blocks.  I took them with me on a trip to Albany in the hopes of finding something to use to set them into a quilt in a fabric store there.   I found a teal solid linen/rayon blend while I was there that I thought set off the mostly-warmish colors in the blocks and I got about 3 yards of it.  One of the relatively few times I purchased fabric specifically for a project, but I wanted something very specific and didn’t have anything that satisfied in my stash (that, too, is rare!).

From 2/9/2014 –

I saw this setting in a picture somewhere on flickr and decided to try it…so, I added a 3″ teal sashing on 2 adjacent sides of each block.  Then, I played with the layout…took it to work finally and laid it out on the conference room floor.  Sewed it together and added a 4″ outer border.  Found the fabrics for the back and pieced them, even started quilting it fairly quickly – with variegated thread, of course, ranging from a very pale mint to a darker teal.  I got all the main seams done – ditch quilting the block seams and the seam around each pieced square.  Then…I just couldn’t decide….it needed more something in the pieced blocks…But, I didn’t want to do each individual pieced seam – some of them were very small and they went every which way…it was a fairly large quilt and heavy to be shoving around under the arm of my machine.  I had already chosen a binding, so I went ahead and did that whilst trying to figure out how to finish quilting it.  I set aside for the better part of a year…until just before the Fair, when I was looking for something quick to finish.

I had finished quite a few other projects by then and, when I finally pulled it out and really looked at it, I knew what I wanted to do.  I quilted following one seam in the approximate center of each pieced block, vertical or horizontal – whichever way it was pieced.  The placement of horizontal to vertical was utterly random and there was more of one than the other.  There were also some unpieced squares – don’t think I mentioned that…(why should I cut pieces that were already 6.5″ square into smaller pieces?)  I had used just about every scrap I owned of those fabrics – from smallest to largest…

It worked – met all of my parameters admirably:  filled in the too-large unquilted spaces, did not involve a horrendous amount of pushing and shoving about, and didn’t detract from the piecing or add yet another set of busy, busy lines.

I called it Secret Gardens because of the Burnett book – these were mine (full of flora and fauna, pattern and texture and colour) throughout a very long winter…

(Just realized I do not have detail photos of this piece or a photo of the back – as soon as I can take some, I shall add to this post…)