Hello everyone. The snow is melting, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and there’s light at the end of the tunnel for an end to the Covid pandemic. I’m waiting for the call this week to sign up for the vaccine. So I’m feeling excitingly optimistic today. It’s the start of what’s going to be a fantastic week! I can just feel it …
I’m doing a presentation and a couple of workshops for a group in Michigan tomorrow and Wednesday and I’m very excited about that. I’m also sharing my “Creativity in times of Covid” presentation on Saturday during the Canadian Quilters Association Webinar. Have you signed up for it yet? If you haven’t, you can go now to the website and sign up for it, even if you are not a member of CQA.
But, I’m here to share with you a bit of my process in creating “Low Tide at Rocky Point” using the new fabric collection by the amazing Shell Rummel and Free Spirit Fabrics. Last year, I got a message from Shell, whom I had met during Quilt Market a few years back. Do you know how it is? When you meet someone and you click? You feel that you’ve known them for years? Their aesthetic is similar to yours, you love everything you see in their booth? You want to grow up to be them? That’s how I felt when I met Shell. And even though we never met again, the feeling stayed. So, when I got contacted by her to explore the opportunity for a collaboration, I was so excited!!! No chance I would say no.
So we talked, and exchanged ideas, and talked some more. The pandemic put a crimp in the plans as the fabric was late in shipping, but that did not deter us from our determination to work together. Finally, we had an idea and a plan … and a deadline!
The fabric, Time & Tide, arrived mid January and I was off. I had an idea in mind of what I wanted to do, but until I saw the fabric, I couldn’t know whether it was going to work the way I envisioned. I pinned the fabric to my design wall and left it there to percolate for a few days. It gave me a chance to look at it at different times of the day and under different lights. And even from different angles: from across the room, coming up the stairs, walking down the hallway.
Yes! the idea was going to work, so I started by pinning the panel to the design wall, full size for now, and cut some of the other fabrics to begin the process of creating a landscape effect. I was going for water lapping at the beach and sandy shores.
Now we were getting somewhere. These are about 40″ long in various widths; I used my favourite technique for curved piecing, and in a short amount of time, I had the landscape sewn together. I added it to the bottom of the panel, just about where I wanted it and placed it once again on the design wall. The panel was too long for the pieced part, so I folded the top of the panel back until I got the proportions right. I wanted to keep as much of the panel intact as possible, and make it all about the water and the sky.
I layered the piece with cotton batting and a batik backing and quilted it on my Bernina Q20 sit down with Glide thread. I had been using different threads on the Q20 and sometimes finding it very frustrating when the thread broke every few stitches. Changing needles didn’t seem to help. A friend recommended Glide threads, so I went to one of our local quilt stores, waited outside for my turn to walk into the store, and purchased a selection of threads for this piece. Various blues, tans, and white and even a pinky white. The thread worked like a charm. Not a single breakage. This made me very happy because now I want to do a lot more quilting on my Q20 than before.
I quilted the sky area by following the lines on the panel with different colour threads and added a few lines to cut the large areas down.
I then quilted the sandy area using the curves on the design and a few of the tan threads I had picked up. Once all the quilting was done, it was time to work on the rocks, pebbles and stones; this was an area of the design that Shell and I had talked about and agreed on. She really likes my rocks, pebbles and stones and wanted to see if they could be used for the design.
I had quite a few rocks already made from before, so I took them out and started laying them out on the design to see how they would look on the fabric. I had had a thought at around 3:00 a.m. a few nights before when I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. I thought I needed a few large, really large rocks for the background, so to try those out before cutting them out of fabric, I cut paper in the shape of the rocks and tried them on for size.
To clarify, this photo was taken before I quilted the piece. But the photo I took was good enough for placement. Before I started to sew the rocks, I squared off the piece and sewed the facing on. Then came the sewing of the rocks. The photo above was a guideline. I ended up changing the placement of the rocks as I went along.
You can see the quilting on the landscape area on this photo, and the first few rocks pinned in place. These rocks that you see here are flat, worked in one of the methods I use for applique by cutting the shape out of fusible interfacing (a light one), ironing it to the back of the fabric, cutting around it leaving a 1/4″ / 3/8″ seam allowance, and then using a fabric glue stick or a regular glue stick to glue the seam allowance to the back. I worked all the flat rocks like that and then they were pinned in place and appliqued using 80wt DecoBob thread.
Once all the background rocks were sewn in place, the 3-D rocks were appliqued on. If you’d like to learn how to make these rocks, pebbles and stones, I have a new workshop coming up on March 18th at 9:00 a.m. Mountain.
And then came time for the hand-stitching, starting with french knots using a variety of hand-dyed threads – including one whole skein of mine . Lots and lots and lots of french knots here. Quite a few hours sitting on the couch stitching while watching Midsomer Murder reruns. I’ve seen them all before so I could just listen (or not) and concentrate on the knots in between the rocks to resemble the bits and pieces you would find on a beach.
Triple seed stitches and running stitches completed the piece. I considered stitching into the sky, but decided in the end that the panel and Shell’s painting was so beautiful and unique the way it was that adding stitching might have ruined the look of it, or interrupted the flow.
So … after a few weeks and lots and lots of hours … “Low Tide at Rocky Point” was finished and shipped to Shell to begin its journey in promoting her new Time and Tide Line, together with a few other pieces from other artists she collaborated with.
I’m deeply touched and honoured that I was asked to be a part of this collaboration. I loved working with Shell’s fabrics, especially the panel. Such a beautiful and unique piece of fabric. I’m hoping to find it in a store close by so I can purchase a piece for myself. I have a few more ideas I’d like to try with this panel.
I’d like to leave you with some detail shots of the stitching …
I hope you enjoyed reading about the making of “Low Tide at Rocky Point”. If you make something with Shell’s fabric, don’t forget to tag her on social media, so she can see what you’ve been creating with her new collection. I personally can’t wait to see her new new collection coming up soon. I heard it’s going to be quite unique, although still very much hers.
Thanks Shell for the wonderful opportunity. And thanks to all of you for reading. Keep creating,