Deer City

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”:

Deer City 1

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?

Blue and Red Circle

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.

Blue and Gray Circle

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!

Deer City 2

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.

Green and Yellow Circle

Deer City Backing

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!

Deer City Binding

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!

January 10 2010

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


Filed under Baked Goods, Quilting

14 responses to “Deer City

  1. Pookie, I love that quilt. It’s one of my favorites you guys have done so far. The circular pattern looks so cool. Well done!

  2. Amy

    Excellent work, Pookie. The red just makes everything pop.

    PS – I saw your “super secret project” picture on flickr and I’m can’t wait to see if it ends up being what I think it is.

  3. Thanks, Heather! We can totally teach you how to do this!

    Thanks, Amy! And I bet you’re right in thinking what you think it is. (It just needs some more work. It’s not ready for prime time just yet.)

  4. Tram

    “The quilt and the bread were ridiculously easy. All either of them required were good materials, patience, care, and time.”

    Isn’t that the truth! Well said. I would argue that there is a bit of the artist that did come through.

    “Artisan” is a great choice of what to call yourself. I know I had this semantic debate several times myself. OY! I promise I will never refer to you as a “crafter” if you don’t refer to me as a “crafter”. I actually had to find something to call myself on my business cards and also, less seriously, on my income tax form. Fiber Artist sounded pretentious. Quilter was too much associated to Crafter at the time and I rejected that one too. Art Quilter – while this is what I think I am – has a connotation as being contemporary, abstract, and machine made – all of which I really wasn’t doing at the time. I decided on Quiltmaker. I still use it on my business cards, but I am much less attached to the label as it is just one of the many things I do now.

    Great quilt, by the way. I have been bitten by the “red and turquoise” bug too. Cannot get enough of it.

  5. Meg

    The quilt is gorgeous, Pookie. And the bread looks delicious!

  6. That quilt is amazing! I love the top stitching – gorgeous. I’ve only done the quilting by hand, but that is quite a piece of work! Artisan is a very good term!

  7. I promise I will never refer to you as a “crafter” if you don’t refer to me as a “crafter”.

    HAHAHAHA! So true. I like “quiltmaker”. It’s a word that seems to encompass that there’s a lot more to quilting than just running some fabric through a machine, you know?

    Thanks, Meg! The bread was delicious. It didn’t even involve a mixer to make.

    Thanks, Denise! I haven’t tried quilting by hand yet, but it sounds like it might be something on the docket for the hockey off-season. I have to admit I’m a little afraid of it! :D

  8. Mags

    That QUILT! Wow. Just. Wow.

    And that artisan bread stuff, tastes good no? Rustic-y bread is fun :D

    I wanted to say something about the crafter/artisan/artist thing, but I haven’t got anything to add that hasn’t already been said.

  9. Tram

    Don’t be afraid of hand quilting. You will LOVE it. Anyone who is a cross stitcher and a hand piecer will jump right on board. The biggest hurdle is basting the quilt, but you have helpers right there :)
    After that, deciding on a design is next, and the top will communicate what is needed (or you can just ask some hand quilters for a little advise). Then the wonderful part of sitting down and quilting. A beginner’s first mistake is having the quilt too tight in the hoop – like cross stitching or embroidery. It should be loose. Go for even stitches at first and don’t try to get tiny stitches right away. That’s it! You’re a hand quilter.

  10. I wanted to say something about the crafter/artisan/artist thing

    Mags, I’m sure you’ve probably heard a lot of “oh, I’m a knitter, too!” and then it turns out the only thing the other person can make is a garter stitch scarf on 13s, right? You should take Tram’s suggestion and go with “knitted-goods maker”! :D

    Tram, thanks for the encouragement on the hand quilting front! I am totally going to be bugging you for advice when I get to that point, so watch out! Hee!

  11. every time I look at photos of this quilt, I like it even more. The pattern is just so … cool. (I was trying to think of a better word but couldn’t come up with it. Unexpected? Charming? Just-not-regular-enough to really appeal to my sense of order without being too perfectly organized?)

    I think you guys are definitely artisans. I, on the other hand, am most definitely a crafter… the crafty equivalent of being a generalist as a librarian. I’m half good at crocheting, photography, paper crafts, and flattening beer bottle caps, but not stellar enough at any of them to, say, open an etsy shop. :)

  12. Just-not-regular-enough to really appeal to my sense of order without being too perfectly organized?

    Hee hee! That’s totally it! :D

    the crafty equivalent of being a generalist as a librarian.

    And there’s definitely something to be said for that! I love the crafts you make, and I love seeing the different things you try. And as for them — including your photography!!! — being “half good”? Pshaw! You’re crazy. And you need to not be so hard on yourself! Also, I’m totally jealous of your eye for color.

  13. aww thanks! I don’t know if my sense of color would do well in choosing quilt fabrics, though… I have a feeling I’d be all caught up in the matchiness or deliberate non-matchiness and end up dizzy. heeee.

  14. Pingback: The beanbag and the table runner

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