Presenting ‘Almost Black’, a new finished quilt and a bit of a departure for me.
This got sent off earlier today to Festival of Quilts as my entry to the Modern Quilt category.
I’ve been thinking for a while now about how to make applique look more modern and minimalist.
My recent mini (for the Pantone Challenge) ‘Greenery Shoots‘ was an initial experiment which I have extended here.
I started off using just dark grey, charcoal and black fabric and making panels of what I always call ‘scrappy improv’, basically lovely playtime in my sewing room!
The first few had too much contrast so I started using just black and charcoal.
I even asked for some suggestions for blocks that I could ‘improv-up’, and Tatyana Duffie suggested a churn dash and Cheryl Arkison suggested some wonky letters, so I created the word ‘night’ which was a bit of an indication of the design I had in mind.
When I posted this photo of the finished top, quite a few people wanted me to leave it like this and just quilt it, and I did consider it (briefly!). But anyone who knows me would understand that not including ANY colour on a quilt is just not going to happen.
My plan all along was to applique different coloured circles in lines that would appear as coloured ‘fairy light’ against a night sky.
I prepared three sizes of circles and spent time appliqueing them in three rows (some nice summer weather luckily coincided with this hand sewing!). Using Aurifil 80wt really helps stitches disappear!
I did think about just one or two strands but, after consultation with my quilty advisers (Lynne and Karen) I decided to go for three, as odd numbers are always best (according to Karen!).
Can you see that I have left a gap in the top strand of lights? I do like a little ‘oddness’ (like the one pink leaf in Greenery Shoots) and I decided to leave a space as if a bulb had just blown, and to hand quilt an empty circle there. But someone on Instagram (Kim Moran-Jones) suggested appliqueing a grey circle instead and I loved that idea (thanks Kim!)!
I used a variegated grey Aurifil 50wt for the FMQ, one of my favourites, number 4670.
When I had finished all the machine quilting I hand quilted around each circle with a pale yellow perle cotton 12, to give the appearance of a ‘glow’. The blown bulb, now an appliqued grey circle, has a very faint glow (it’s very recently blown!) achieved by using Aurifil 80wt in cream.
I had deliberately left space between some of my quilting lines to add some hand quilting. It’s quite subtle as I used an ecru perle cotton number 12, but I really think it adds to the texture and interest.
I love the fact there is so much to look at in this quilt, even though the background is kind of dull. I think that makes you notice more because there is so little distraction.
I’m really pleased with how this worked out, it’s pretty much as I saw it in my head when I first conceived it. Actually it’s a lot better!
And I have more ideas for this sort of ‘applique on improv’ look, so watch this space!
Oh and do any of you recognise the reference (from a British sketch comedy show) in the title?! It’s a family private joke in our house and what my husband said when he saw me working on this!