The 12″ x 12″ quilt for November is hanging on the quilt stand. November is the time of year when, as I work in my studio, I hear and see huge skeins of geese flying over as they migrate further south for the winter, or arrive in the Netherlands from the far north. In the early autumn one can watch the local geese doing ‘practice flights’ as the adults teach the youngsters how to fly in formation, with often hilarious results; but by November everyone is trained and ready to go. Geese from Scandinavia sometimes fly through in the dark, and you can hear them honking to each other in the night sky.
So I knew when I started my series that I wanted November to be a goose quilt. But what soort of goose quilt? I decided to make an abstract quilt, using 3D folded fabric flying geese as my goose motief. I had a fat quarter bundle of Oakshott shot cottons in blues and greys with a couple of purples, and decided that was a good colour palette for the often sombre November sky and landscape. Then I got to work sketching in Electric Quilt, to see if I could put my idea into practice. I sketched a sky made up of ray-shaped sections (like the rays of the sun, if we got to see that much in November!) emerging from behind a couple of low hills, then I coloured it in a bit with pencils (3 blues, 3 purples) to see if I liked it. I roughly cut out some grey and black triangles to serve as geese, and played with their position on my sketch.
I wanted to stitch my ‘geese’ into the seams between the segments of sky. I knew the top was too small to have a v-formation of geese as in real life, so I decided to have them fly in a curve. I played around with curves by moving my practice geese on the sketch, and in the end decided on a 1/4 circle arc over the quilt top (that is, it would have been a complete circle if the quilt had been 24″ x 24″.
I made some proper folded fabric geese (from a square folded in half diagonally, and then in half again, so that the raw edges are along the long side). Two each in four different sizes, so that the geese on the left looked ‘further away’ than the geese on the right. I liked this effect, but did decide to have the colour of my geese also change from light grey to black, in the actual quilt.
I numbered all the segments, and got out some freezer paper. I used Ruth B. McDowell’s marking and piecing technique to make the top. One traces the cutting lines on the shiny side, and on the matt side mark lines for the edges, major segments in the construction and ticks and dots as alignment points for the piecing.
Then I cut out all the segments and ironed the shiny side of the papers to the wrong sides of the fabric. The coloured lines marking the outside of the block are very useful for getting the outside edges on the straight grain of the fabric. It means that despite the many pieces, the edges of the block are not on the bias, so are stable.
Then I marked 1/4″ seam allowance around each of the pieces and cut them out.
Then I sewed them together, matching the hatching marks along each seam.
I made the flying geese in four sizes from different greys: from pearl grey through to black.
I had marked on each relevant segment where the goose had to go, so I stitched each goose to its segment 1/8″ from the edge to hold it in place before I sewed the segments together.
In spite of all the fiddly bits, especially at the narrow ends of the segments, the sky came together with this technique really easily.
Then I sewed the hills together. As these were curved seams, I had to transfer all the tick-marks to the seam allowance, as I had to remove the paper before sewing. This was a bit trickier than the sky, but also went together fairly easily. I pressed the seam allowances towards the bottom of the quilt each time, so that the small bulk of the seam allowances worked to ‘push’ the distant mauve hills further back than the closer purple hills.
Then I stitched the hills to the sky.
I couldn’t find a backing fabric with wild geese on it, but I did have a cute one with domestic geese, so I used that.
I layered the top, batting and batting, and used a 12 1/2″ ruler to determine the exact orientation of the block on the backing and where I would trim the block after quilting.
Because the shot cottons don’t react too well to pin basting (it can leave tiny marks that affect the shot effect), I basted by hand with basting thread, avoiding the areas that I knew I would quilt along. Then I machine quilted the top with Aurifil and YLI threads in colours matching the fabrics. I quilted each sky segment 1/8″ out from the seam, quilting under the geese. This ensured that the geese pop out a little from the quilt surface. I quilted the hills 1/8″ from each edge.
Then I trimmed the top to size, and added a hanging sleeve, and a label. As with the rest of this series, the 2″ double fold binding is batik fabric. I had a blue and purple fabric with spots on it that was perfect for this piece.
Then I hung my abstract tribute to our flying geese on the stand in our entry hall, with the autumn topper.
Only one 12″ by 12″ quilt to go! As this is Ice Bear Quilts, and there are as yet no polar bears in the series, no prizes for guessing the subject of December’s quilt!