A few years ago, KtG considered what would be the proper term for what we are as stitchers (and now quilters). We’re not “artists”, because while we make a certain number of design choices such as linens and substituting colors, we never make our own designs. But given the amount of time we spend on any given project, the care we take to use the finest materials, and the standards we hold our work to, we’re also not “crafters”. KtG decided that we must be somewhere in the middle, and the term she suggested was “artisan”. I liked the sound of that. It implies I might occasionally strive for that mythical “museum-quality work” but clearly announces I hold no misconceptions of my own (non-existent) artistic ability. So keeping this “artisan” thing in mind, I present to you my latest finished quilt, “Deer City”:
I had seen pictures of this quilt in all the blogger reports from Spring Market and with every picture I saw, I feel deeper and deeper in love with the muted colors and the sophisticated circle pattern. It seemed like a sign from the quilting gods when the pattern turned out to be a free download from Free Spirit Fabrics, but I was still a little trepidatious about the circular piecing. So it seemed like a bigger, badder sign from the quilting gods when one of our quilting magazines arrived in the mail with a picture tutorial of piecing quarter circles. At that point I had to order the fabric, right?
The fabrics are probably a bit trendier than what I’m usually drawn to, but I’ll worry about them going out of style later. For right now I love the how the super-trendy red/aqua combo is broken up by silvery grays, mustard yellows, and deep greens. And for right now I love how the super-trendy deer silhouette is balanced by the geometric patterns, and the little flowers. When it goes out of style, I’ll just have to put in the linen-closet for ten years, and then it’ll be retro cool. Or something.
Starting the project was the hardest part. I’m not used to using templates, and it took a little trial and error to realize the convex half of the quarter-circle had one arm that was wider than the other. And pinning and sewing the first seam was like trying to speak a foreign language. The whole time I thought, “this will never work” and “I must be doing this wrong”, but then magically it popped into shape and was a perfect quarter-circle! Who knew!
The rest of the project was the very easy part. Being an artisan and not an artist, I just followed the picture, knowing it looked exactly how I wanted my quilt to look. (There was one exception to that — the pattern included some striped and dotted fabrics I wasn’t wild about, so I did actually substitute on a few blocks.) The entire top took just a few weeks to piece by hand. I suspect it’s actually easier to piece circular seams by hand than on a machine. Score one for hand-piecing!
As much as I love hand-piecing, I’m all about the convenience of machine-quilting, so this puppy was handed off to Mary, The Long-Arm Quilter. I trust her artist’s eye implicitly, so I just told her to pick whatever pattern she wanted. She went with this big, loopy curlicue pattern that echoes the circles in the pattern and the flowers in the fabrics.
I followed my cardinal rule of backing the quilt with my favorite fabric from the line, so I chose the dusty blue with brick red flowers for the backing. I loved the red geometric border that the sample quilt had, so I went with that on my quit. I went with the blue and red geometric for the binding, knowing it would look great with the border. It took a few hours of invisible-stitching to fully accept how the binding was looking with the backing, but in the end, I’m very, very pleased with the finished project!
So there we go, one artisan quilt! I did only the teeniest, tiniest bit of artistic thinking, but put the utmost of care into making sure the work was quality. In fact, this quilt top was that first that prompted this reaction from one of the staff at the local quilt store: “That’s your quilt? Hm. May I look at the back? [studies stitching from the back] Oh, this is very well done! Great job!” Hooray! I knew I’d arrived in the cool kid’s club in the cross-stitching community back in AZ when the framer would look at the back of the piece before the front, so I’m feeling very, very good about my quilting now!
Also, while on an artisan quilting run, I took a stab at artisan bread baking and check it out — it looks like crusty whole wheat bread!
Here’s the thing about being an artisan — it’s so easy. The quilt and the bread were ridiculously easy. All either of them required were good materials, patience, care, and time. If you have those things but no artistic talent, the world can still be your oyster! (Provided someone else harvests the oyster. Heh.)
Posted by Pookie