Friday, 30 November 2012

The phoenix rises from the ashes

OK, grab something...a cup of coffee, tea, bottle of alcohol...this is going to be a long, picture heavy one.

Where to begin.

Well there are previous posts about this quilt here (and somewhere else on my blog but I can't find it and it's not that important so on I go).

It was a pattern that I have no idea why I bought at the time other than I thought 'I could do that'.


Like a lot of things in life: clothes, shoes, boyfriends; I look back and think 'What on earth was I on at the time.'

So this pattern got put to one side until a clear-out a few years ago, when I couldn't decide whether to chuck it or keep it.

No idea why but I decided to keep it and slowly work my way through it. The plus side was it used up an awful lot of scraps, even the teeny weeny ones. The flip side was it was bone-crushingly boring but also slightly addictive. I wanted to throw the towel in soooo many times but I just couldn't. It would have meant giving up and I don't give up very easily.

So I gave myself mental milestones.

You're a third of the way there now

Your're half-way now, it would be a waste of the fabric you've already used if you gave up

It's a really good way to get rid of some of those everso not to your taste fabric remnants the mother-in-law gave you from way back when and you can still look her in the eye and say you used them

Look, you're three quarters of the way there now...wasn't so tortuous was it?

Now you've paper-pieced all the parts you just have to sew them together

Really it's not so bad is it?

These mental milestones were played out over two and a half years of on and off until I finally had this. It still took me a week though to remove all the paper from the back and I left little trails of it round the house and even sat at a meeting at work and then glanced down to see I had tiny bits of paper stuck to my trousers.



 While I was glad I had finished it, I felt completely deflated. I knew there would be another mountain to climb if I was going to quilt it with the justice I felt it deserved. I was so ambivalent towards it I would have shoved it under my sewing machine and mindless meandered all over it just to be done.

So I did something I have never done before, I packed it off  roughly 4,836 miles (I know that because I've just Googled it) to the amazingly talented long-arm quilter that is Krista where she worked her magic on it.

It then hung in an exhibition of her work on Vashon Island...you can see it on her blog...before beginning its long journey back to me, where it arrived this week.

I don't think there are enough superlatives for me to describe the outstandingly amazing job she has done on it.


The texture that she has brought to the quilt is just jaw-droppingly drooling.




She very politely described my quilt as 'an extreme fabric diary'...


...which is what it was. If I look at the shot above, I see the subtle star centres which is how I thought I was going to make the whole quilt, with lots of gentle, floral fabrics. I even recognise the blue floral as a Laura Ashley dress I wore to a wedding 20 years ago.

But as time went on, I completely forgot what I should be doing with this quilt and my colour choices became more random.


So that by the time I got to paper-piecing the fans (far right in the shot below) I was consumed by 'press-on-itus', only thought of value and not colour, such was the desire to just get to the finish.


But for all my stop-start, what-am-I-doing meetings with this quilt, Krista has managed to marry it all together with her quilting.

If you look at the back you can see how beautiful it is.


It was pointed out to me that someone had pinned the quilt top on Pinterest with the comment "This is gorgeous, but all those sharp, precision-pieced points would show up even better against a background with more contrast, like solid gray, black, or white."

Possibly true. But I didn't come to this quilt with a laid out plan that I carried through from beginning to end. I started this quilt the same reason I start every quilt I make:

Because for so many reasons, I just love the whole process of quilting.
Because I discover something new about myself and my love for quilting each time.
Because I can always see the beginning but don't necessarily need to plan ahead for the ending.

My quilts are all just an expression of who I am and the journey I took to get there.

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday and At the End of the Hallway



51 comments:

  1. it's glorious! You must be so proud!

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  2. Amazing. Utterly awesome in every sense of the word!

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  3. wow! so glad you kept going and was able to share all that work.... and fabric lol x well done xx

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  4. The quilt is beautiful, and the quilting takes it to another level. I love how the features stand out so well with the way it is quilted.

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  5. Delightful quilt and that quilting is amazing. Very inspirational!

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  6. I so love this quilt! I think it is perfect the way it is and extreme fabric diary is a perfect phrase, one to be proud of. I actually think it would be far less unique and exciting against a grey or white background, then it would look like many other quilts. This one stands out as very special the way it is. The beautiful pointy points are the star of the show but the low volume background is also a feature, as are all the many bright bright colours.

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  7. Wow, this is utterly gorgeous! I love it exactly how it is. I am a sucker for plain backgrounds but actually love yours how it is. Beautiful.

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  8. It's terrific! Your piecing is superb and the marvellous quilting enhances it beautifully! I can't seem to find the right words to express how wonderful I think it is...

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  9. Such an incredibly beautiful quilt and story! A real inspiration!

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  10. I was explaining the other day to someone--a quilt is a metaphor for who we are at that moment in time. Yours says determination, incorporation of persons in life who have supported you in your ventures with fabric, quiet strength but sometimes in a louder voice, the path seems straight, but then the curves can sometimes be blindsiding, the days' skies appear cloudy, black, bright, or electrified and like it or not, they too shall pass. And there is no regret, not one, because this quilt and I have watched too many soccer games and recitals to know that everything grows exactly the way it is supposed to grow, in the colors its supposed to encompass, in a time and a place that we (as a family now) have lived, breathed, and loved.

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  11. Truly beautiful and I'm awed by the complexity and workmanship that went into this!

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  12. Bah hum bug! to the pinner's comments. I love it the way it is! The quilter did her job and made those points pop and the character of the quilt is more amazing now. I love me some solids but prefer yours because you chose to do your own thing.

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  13. A truly amazing and incredibly beautiful quilt! I love it, the story behind it, the angst and drive to complete it and all the wonderful comments acknowledging your journey to its completion! This is a show stopper and a blue ribbon winner!

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  14. OH MY GOODNESS!!! What an absolutely amazing quilt. I am so glad you pressed on and completed it :) It is so very true that the quilting can make or break a quilt and this definitely helps make it and marry everything together as you said. I found it so neat as I looked at the picture of the top and thought "huh that is an interesting quilt" and then the after pictures of it bound and quilted made my jaw drop and fall in love with it! Thank you so much for sharing with us all and to show us to persevere on something we may not be sure about!

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  15. A celebration of colour, precision piecing, perseverance and quilting! And I like that you have to look for those points - gives you another layer to search for! Another for the quilt show then??

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  16. Totally awesome!!! An absolute heirloom, love it! And a lot of work...

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  17. I'm not exaggerating when I say this is one of the most beautiful quilts I've ever seen.

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  18. I think that gray background would ruin charm of this quilt. It's perfect how it is now! I love Krista's quilting - she's magician in quilting (that's for sure). I wish I could make such a wonderful mix of fabrics! (including mother in law gifts - I was almost crying when I read it:D)

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  19. Drop dead gorgeous on every level. Do you have children? They will fight over this one ; )

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  20. Wow! It is perfect as it is, which is how it was meant to be. The gorgeous quilting gave life to the amazing piecing. If I had made this, I would be bursting with pride!!

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  21. This quilt is why I started to follow your blog. It is amazing. I dream of making something like this someday. After reading your blog I found more beautiful work. Congratulations on the big finish and custom quilting.

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  22. That is just one of the most beautiful quilts - piecing, fabric choice and quilting! I once made a quilt that was entirely paper piece and I used the wrong fabrics...it is all matchy matchy in batiks - two things I don't really care for any more and I don't even take it out. Yours is a heirloom!

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  23. Wow, the whole thing is stunning, the quilting just adds to it's amazingness!

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  24. Absolutely stunning! Beautiful quilting, and your lovely random scrappiness adds much-needed vitality to a type of pattern that (IMO) can be overly precise and a little stiff if approached with too much reverence and advance planning.

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  25. Ace!!!
    Love the quilt, love the quilting, awesome job bird!

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  26. It has a majestic insanity that I adore! I do so understand your "drift" of colour intention over the years - it is an idiosyncratic testament to a fantastic journey. Beautiful! And what a wonderful complementary quilting job she did with it!

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  27. I absolutely love this quilt. I've been looking forward to you showing it off. It's one of the most beautiful quilts I've ever seen! I love the crazy mix of fabrics and the quilting takes it to a whole other level.
    For what it's worth I think the background fabrics you chose are perfect. They add even more personality to it and make me want to reach out and touch it.

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  28. Wow! Wow! Wow! The piecing, the colors, the quilting...I never would have made it to the end, but you must be thrilled that you did :)

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  29. Like a fairy tale...just dreamy. Beautifully done!

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  30. I adore this quilt, and I love the fact that you just did your own thing, and not get caught up in what other people feel is right for the pattern. I'm a huge fan of scrap quilts, so thank you for sharing these amazing pictures with us.

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  31. Wow! I don't know what to say. I'm in awe; my jaw is hanging open and I'm drooling. Excellent job by you and Krista!

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  32. Wow! That is an accomplishment! I like the scrappy look

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  33. Jaw dropping indeed. I LOVE your style Alison!

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  34. I'm picking my jaw up off the floor. This is stunning! I hope it's been worth it!

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  35. Amazing! I love it so well. The person who commented obviously doesn't understand the joy of making scrap quilts. It's like a diary of the quilts and projects you have made. Can I just say it again, I love this so much.

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  36. Um... Wow? Awesome? Gorgeous? Well done? All of the above!

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  37. This is blowing my mind. I had to come back today and re-read and look at it closely again. When I saw the photo of the pattern yesterday, I thought UGH, that looks like a real drag. You've taken it and made it into something absolutely glorious! I love scrap quilts above all else, and you've set a bar for me...it may take a while to get there, but your quilt is such a celebration of scraps and so cheery, I want one also. Congratulations!

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  38. Amazing! You did a fantastic job. This was definitely a quilt that needed long-armed--well worth the journey.

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  39. Amazing! I love how you pick and work with fabrics -- even if it comes from being tired of a project. :)

    Can I just say how much I want to win your giveaway?!?! Seriously...PICK ME! :)

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  40. Oh, I just fell in love with a quilt:-)
    Absolutely fantastic!!!

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  41. WOW!!!! This quilt is seriously gorgeous!!! Amazing in so many ways. Ps I might have accidently commented twice with 3 words on your GiveAway day, I thought I left a comment last night, using my phone but I couldn't see it so I tried again today with my computer. It's the best GiveAway!!

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  42. Oh my... This is simply divine, amazing, wonderful. Inspiring to the max!

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  43. It's gorgeous - and sometimes actually you don't necessarily want the very sharp contrast. I love the way that quilts are so individual - that the same pattern can be so different in a dozen quilts. No one will ever have the same quilt - I love that it is an expression of your personality and the journey in that quilt. (And I also love your "mermaid's purses" quilt in the blog header - at least, it makes me think of mermaids purses!)

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  44. And just who are the quilt police? As previously stated, each person making this quilt makes it their own. No two will be the same. Good job and congratulations with your sticktoitness!

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  45. That quilt is amazing- I'm lost for words!

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  46. Absolutely gorgeous!!! I love everything about it and the fact that you persevered to the end, makes it even more worth while!! You've done an amazing job to say the least. Love the qulting done by Krista too - beautiful work!

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