I finished my Australian landscape quilt and sent it to its new home this week. I was a bit stuck for a name, and while I was running my fingers over the textured ground, wracking my brains for a name, the national anthem happened to be playing for some televised sport. The phrase 'nature's gifts' stuck, and seemed particularly appropriate as this quilt was commissioned as a gift.
The ground is one of my favourite parts of this quilt; the curved piecing comes together in the most surprisingly easy way to create the rolling patchwork countryside, and I just love the texture of the quilting.
Hidden to varying degrees on the ground are a selection of Australian creatures. While it is intended to be an Australian quilt, I wanted to avoid making it cliché, so you'll find no emus, kangaroos or koalas here. The only mammal is the platypus, lurking near the billabong:
On special request, there's also an eastern water dragon:
This one was great fun to quilt; here it is a bit closer:
There's also a green tree frog up near the trees. Yes, it's obviously way out of scale, but because (like the other creatures) it's not obvious, it doesn't matter!
Towards the bottom at the centre, there's a lyrebird. This is the only creature which used two threads; a brown for most of it, and a fine white for the white tail plumes. I places this one on a branch:
The final bird on the ground is off to the left; it's a bush stone curlew. It looks rather like a water bird, but it lives in grassland:
The trees are solid black and were fused, then appliqued at the quilting stage. They took forever to cut out (and almost as long to applique - twice each!) but I love the way they finished.
The sky was unexpectedly the biggest challenge. Where the HST seams meet the joins were bulkier than I'd expected (next time I'd press the seams open when joining one block to another) and this made for difficult quilting. Admittedly this was probably linked to the new batting I'm using. I've decided to try a wool/poly blend, which has a slightly higher loft than the wool/cotton I've used for years. The combination of the bulk and loft made it hard to quilt the sky smoothly - and I think the batting also meant the quilting caused more shrinkage than usual. I'll have to remember that.
All this meant that I used a slightly easier quilting pattern for the sky than intended, and that the blocks got more distorted than I'd like. However, I do like the overall effect of the sky. Into the sky I quilted a sulphur-crested cockatoo (while James and Eleanor were picking out the hidden creatures, we discovered that Eleanor thought they were 'softer-crested' cockatoos!):
And more hidden is this whistling kite:
To add a bit more interest (and another Australian touch) to the sky, there are stars in the form of the Southern Cross. As on our flag, the larger of the pointer stars (on the left) has seven points (these represent the seven states and territories). To keep the constellation form appearing too overt, I made sure to place some of the stars on lighter fabrics. The stars are also fused applique; I used an iridescent pearly white fairy frost to give them a bit of a glow.
I've discovered that, since James and Eleanor love to get involved while photographing my quilts, the best solution is to supply them with cameras while I'm doing the detail images, and by the time I want to capture the whole quilt, they've lost interest and are out of the way! James takes it seriously...
The finished quilt is close to 83in square.