Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Perfect Storm- for me that is…..

"Tail Wind" original design and quilting by- Stephanie Zacharer Ruyle
(photo: Marta Strzeszewski, photo editing by Amy Gibson- she photoshopped out the hands!)

It doesn't happen very often-that unique combination of circumstances and ideas (old and new), but it happened just recently to me and if I can get all the stars and planets to align (ya, right) I might be on to something.

Let me begin at the beginning, I have had this quilt for as long as I can remember.

It's faded in some areas, and the binding is frayed but it still retains it's beauty and it's simplicity
It's very old, very soft and very fragile. I don't know who made it, but it's totally made by hand. Cut, pieced and quilted without any electricity what-so-ever.
These small orange squares are 1" in size. Look at that tiny, uniform hand stitching.

I have always loved this quilt and wish I knew more about the person who made it. Besides it's mysterious creator, one thing that always makes me smile is it's color. It's orange and white- sunny and bright. Someone once told me that they thought it was probably not orange but red and that it has faded with time and use. But I disagree, something tells me it's always been orange (faded red to me is pink) and that makes me smile all the more.  (2/24 addition: I have learned the block in the antique quilt is called Burgoyne Surrounded and dates back to an important Revolutionary War battle. You can read more about that part of US history here).  I'm guessing 100+ years ago, orange wasn't a popular color, let alone the color of the year, like Tangerine Tango is this year, but someone liked it enough to make a quilt with orange proudly displayed. Which got me thinking that in 2012, I NEEDED to make a quilt for myself. (I haven't yet you see). Then along came the Tangerine Tango challenge…….

Tangerine Tango Quilt Challenge
and the MQG challenge and a January FRMQG meeting and I got to thinking, perhaps these are just the push, my proverbial "Tail Wind".

So, here is MY story
Title: Tail Wind
Start: mid-January, 2012- completed: mid-February 2012

Tail Wind-the front
The back
Size: 95" x90" (Queen sized)
FMQ: (on my Bernina 180) using: a FMQ pattern of tailed-swirls and fillers to resemble "wind" currents originating from a centrally placed compass rose.

Thread: Coats and Clarks 100% quilting cotton in winter white, 40 weight.  I used well over 2000 yards of thread to quilt this project.
Batting: Hobbs Tuscany Collection, 100% wool batting which needs to be quilted every 3".
Material, 100% cotton- (front):
     1. Oranges:(mainly from stash and small yardage approximately FQ size and smaller) 5 Kona "orange family" solids (3 little pieces left over from the Robert Kaufman solids challenge charm pack in brights); Kona solids in school bus and coral; Kaffe Fassett- Rowan Line Dance; OZ by Sanae for Moda; Floralicious by Michael D'Amore for Benartex; Taza by Dena for free Spirit; Woodland Friends by Ellen Crimi-Trent for Clothworks, Half Moon by Moda; Grad Bazaar by Patty Young for Michael Miller; Metro Living Circles by Robert Kaufman; Fresh Flowers by Deb Strain for Moda; Garden Divas by Jane Sassaman for Free Spirit; A day in the Life by Mummysan for Robert Kaufman, Aviary 2 by Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit; Innocent Crush Maybe by Anna Maria Horner for Free Spirit; Treasures and Tidbits by Piece O' Cake Designs for Robert Kaufman; Tonal Kaleidoscope Gypsy Bandana by Pillow & Maxfield for Michael Miller;  Aldo fo Zippy by Jenn Ski/Lilla Rogers Studio for P&B Textiles; Kensington Studio for Quilting Treasures; Simon + Kabuki for Eandl Design, Inc.; Terrain by Kate Spain for Moda; Mingle by Monaluna for Robert Kaufman; and various wonderful orange scraps from Michelle L. (Flickr- I like Orange too) from the Goodie Bag swap (round 2).

     2. Grays:(mainly from stash and small yardage as above) Kona medium grey; "Quilters Linen" by Robert Kaufman,  Metro Living Circles by Robert Kaufman; Alexander Henry Fashion for Home; Little Apples by Aneela Hoey for Moda; Ta Dot by Michael Miller, and small scraps from Michelle L. (Flickr- I like Orange too).

     1. Oranges: (mainly from stash and small yardage as above) Aldo fo Zippy by Jenn Ski/Lilla Rogers Studio for P&B Textiles; Heirloom by Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit
     2. Turquoise: (small yardage from stash)Treetop Fancy by Tina Givens for Free Spirit; Night Sky by Tina Givens for Free Spirit

"Neutral", (front and back): Kona Snow approximately 12-13 yards

For this quilt, I used:
Front: small pieced squares (5 1/2") 85 total- (80 orange, 5 gray)
          medium pieced squares (10 1/2") 26 total- (19 orange, 7 gray)
          medium kona snow solid 10 1/2" squares- 7
          small kona snow solid 5 1/2" squares- 16
          rectangle kona snow solid 10 1/2 x 5 1/2"- 10
Back: large pieced squares 15" 3 total (2 turquoise, 1 orange)
          small pieced squares 5 1/2" total 3 (2 orange and 1 turquoise)
          pieced kona solid in Snow

The quilt top pieces were laid out in a random pattern based mainly on what appealed to me.
One note of caution, and I should have foreseen this had I (been organized and) drawn this out in advance; was……... the piecing of the top became puzzle-like containing only one width of quilt straight seam line (yikes).
I lay my quilts out on the floor as I don't have a design "wall".  If you look closely at about 9 o'clock you can see a large grouping of quilt blocks with no obvious (to me) way to assemble them without some creative and non-linear piecing.

In the end I was left with about 7 medium sized sections and had quite the time fitting them all together in an orderly manner.

It required (quite) a bit of interesting seaming but it all eventually went together.
The completed top laying over the backing and the 100% wool batting, all taped to the living room floor and waiting to be pin-basted.
 I did lean my lesson when it came to the back! (minimal and straight piecing).

quilting in progress- Bernina 180 and a small Sew EZ portable sewing table
What I love about this quilt is that I used many, many oranges and some (but not as many) grays. If you look closely you can see birds, bees, flowers, dots, zig-zags, spiders, sinks, a bath tub, a whisk, a dress, eye glasses, a baby carriage, a toaster, a door, a piece of cake, utensils, lots of scissors, a toy car, stripes, checks, plaid, argyll, fish scales, words, leaves, rosebuds, ducks and hats. I'd say that's quite a collection of things to see and to look for, and all of that just makes me smile.
The quilting is really prominent on the back and I'm thrilled that I used so much neutral here.

Back, detail

Back- close-up of  FM quilting
In the end I have a beautiful and surprisingly light-weight queen sized quilt. Although the wool batting requires denser quilting, it's incredibly light, compressible and easy to maneuver under the space available on a regular table top sewing machine.
Many Thanks to my FRMQG members for helping me take full-length photos
The front (photo: Marta Strzeszewski)

The back
(photo Marta Strzeszewski)


  1. This is amazingly informative blog post. I really love all of the thought and detail you put into the quilt. The spacing and layout is phenomenal and I like how your choice of quilting pattern echoed the dynamic of wind that you'd created with piecing.

  2. Oh wow, it's absolutely fab! Love the design and the quilting you chose :o)

  3. Phew...... thats such a fabulous quilt, I love the little details on the back that match the front, and your free motion quilting is amazing x

  4. This is just a fantastic quilt! I love the story and the process and your quilting is wonderful! I am going to have to try a wool batting too.

  5. The quilt standing alone is absolutely beautiful, but your story about the genesis of the idea and then all of your process photos and info add a whole other life to it. This is amazing! Good luck with the challenges!

  6. this quilt is gorgeous! Your quilting is wonderful, you most definitely should be proud and smile every time you look at it!

  7. thank you for sharing so much of your process. i love the random placement. it was worth the extra seams :)

  8. This is an amazing quilt. I love the way your randomly placed everything and am in awe that you quilted this on a home machine. Beautiful and congratulations!

  9. I am madly in love with this quilt!!! I am seriously impressed with how you put this together. Great great job, girl!!

  10. I love this detailed blog post & reading all about your process. Thanks so much for making this for the challenge - you deserved the win with this beauty!

  11. Gorgeous--thank you for sharing your beauty and for making something for you!!


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