My customer had a few specific requests for this quilt for her imminent grandson and we worked together to turn her ideas into a finished design.
I chose the background colour because the nursery has been painted a pale sage green, and the quilted sycamore leaves are a nod to the sycamore branches her daughter stencilled onto the walls - can you find all six of them?
The otherwise autumnal colours were chosen to reflect her daughter's favourite season and the fact that the baby is due in the northern autumn. I found the perfect striped binding after she mentioned the possible inclusion of deep, musky purples and based my initial leaf palette on that, then added in a few brighter tones for contrast.
In the tree sit a pair of Eastern Bluebirds. These are endemic to her local area. The two appliqued birds, cut from single pieces of a convenient rose print in my stash are representative of the parents, while the third bird quilted in a paler blue symbolises their unborn child and at the same time the species' rise from endangered status.
I feel I need to add a short explanation here. Australian possums are cute and are completely unrelated to those found in North America - which are actually opossums. We live in a suburban area in the Adelaide hills and see them frequently in our trees in the evenings - and hear them nightly.
I don't think the possum has any particular significance, but she liked the one I did on an earlier quilt, inspired by Possum Magic. It can be hard to duplicate things like this, but I think I was reasonably successful. It helped enormously that I still had the drawings and the trial pieces of applique from last time to remind me of the thread combinations.
The appliqued moon, which gets its glow from the iridescent pearl white fairy frost fabric, goes with the quote quilted across the top of the tree. It reads 'I see the moon and the moon sees me' and comes from a lullaby sung by several generations of her family.
I knew from past experience that the words would need to be quilting in darker (higher contrast) thread than I'd really expect or want, which makes it a bit daunting to start, but it's come out perfectly.
I marked both the script and the sycamore leaves in a rather convoluted manner, so I could use my preferred marker - an air-erasable purple pen from Sewline. It's the one pen I am confident comes out completely (and without fuss!) - plus it's easy to mark with and easy to see. But because it fades quite quickly, I didn't want to mark the quilt before sandwiching. So I sandwiched as usual, but didn't quilt around the edges first. I quilted around the tree, then carefully slid the patterns in between the top and batting to their planned (marked with pins) locations, and placed the whole lot over my lightbox. This only worked because my three layers were all pale, because the patterns were heavy, clear lines, and because they were all reasonably close to the edge of the quilt. To get the curve in the writing, I printed it all out, taped it into one line with even spacing, trimmed close above and below the writing, then snipped almost all the way through the paper between the letters, leaving about 1 1/6in uncut at the bottom.
The finished quilt is close to 35 x 45in. The background is filled with my favourite swirls, and I free-motion quilted in the ditch around all the applique. This step is essential to define the shapes, but to try and keep the quilt to budget, this time I chose a neutral thread which enabled me to do all the (attached) leaves at the same time as the tree. It saved quite a bit of time, and makes virtually no difference to the result.
As I did last time, I quilted around the possum in a fine thread to blend with the background, and created an uneven zigzag pattern manually (free-motion) with the regular straight stitch selected. It ends up looking like part of the possum and retains the furry effect which would be lost with a simple line of quilting around it.