This tree quilt that I've been working on for ages was one of the quilts I photographed this morning. I'm thrilled with it. It's a commissioned piece, and the recipients have been pleased with what I've shown them, so I think they'll be happy, too.
I'm so glad I took that daunting step of cutting the initial tree out and replacing it with one that would stand out nicely - it was definitely worth the worry, and the effort!
The birds were a request, and definitely a good addition. I adapted them from various clip-art style silhouettes I found online. I'd thought I'd managed to get two of them facing in the other direction, but I do kind of like the sole 'pair' of birds.
As regular readers would know, I ditered over the leaves, and in the end added a lot more than planned, in 4 different greens, giving the tree a much more natural feel. The leaves are between 1.5 and 2 inches long.
As with any finished quilt, I can see a few things I'd change, but nothing major on this one. I'd tilt the lower left-hand leaf in the other direction, I'd turn another bird to the right, and I'd not have the outer ribbons cross at the sides - just meet at a point like the inner ribbon.
Quilting-wise, I'd redesign the feather motifs at the bottom to reach the outer ribbon at the bottom.
But I'm really pleased with the feathers on this. I marked the feathers up to the point where they go up the sides, then just marked the spine, and I marked the top motif; the rest is freehand, and it's all free-motion. The feathers are all quilted in a mauve embroidery thread to help them stand otu a little, and that worked very effectively - and my care (and reduced speed - my default is pretty much full-speed, and I have to work hard to keep slower!) while quilting them means there are no obvious wavers.
I used a ruler to free-motion the piano key border, which was a bit of a drag to do, but again, definitely worth the effort. I repeatedly cursed my decision to echo the feathers to fill the space around them the whole time I was doing it, but in hindsight it was the right decision. Even though they're not perfect individually, the overall effect is certainly what I wanted, and I'm happy with that. Certainly, neither little miss Tilley, nor her parents, will be judging it!
I threw in a little curved cross-hatching. I drew it freehand, but did mark it - however I'd only designed it with half the lines, and went back and added the extras without markings.
The quilting that I'm totally in love with though, is the fill around the tree. Inspired by this background quilting by Judi of Green Fairy Quilts, I doodled for weeks and came up with my own version, which I couldn't wait to quilt.
This was the first time I'd quilted it, and I started out a little on the large side on the left of the tree, but the right is about perfect. It's a combination of extended swirls, sets of up to 3 small double feathers, and triple-paisleys, with a few echo-lines where needed. I learned a bit while quilting it about how to fit it into spaces and against applique, and that no matter how small, the feathers should always be double to keep the look consistent. I'll definitely be quilting this one over and over again!
It's not perfect for fitting into small gaps, such as between the roots, but it's workable, and in open areas it's gorgeous. This design is also a nice change from the McTavishing I've always done around the trees before. It's fun to quilt, and reasonably fast, given its density.
Now I've finally decided on a name, I can do the label, and this quilt is finished. My next commission si a similarly-sized tree, but will have quite a different look (although I definitely plan to use the same background quilting!).