Monday, November 26, 2018

Boulders and Chockstones

Boulders and Chockstones
47" x 45.5"
It is my pleasure to share with you one of my newest quilts!  This one was a complete joy to make! This quilt is about the myriad of supporting players in our lives. While the charismatic boulders play the leading roles, it’s the little chockstones, wedged in just the right places, that provide the support.
The first thing I did was select a color palette.  I love this combination of greys with yellow, green, orange and magenta.  Unlike the photos above, the actual magentas are a nice bright pop of color that goes so well with the others!
Next, I made a background quilt of all white and did straight line quilting in groups of thread colors.  It's a subtle effect, but later I found that it was very useful in helping me line up and attach the big boulders.
The big boulders were machine pieced in blocks to get the little animals in the middles. 
Then I drew a giant boulder on freezer paper and pressed on the back.  With scissors I cut 1/4" larger than the paper and then used my iron to carefully press under the edges to the backside, using the freezer paper as a guide. 
Peel off the freezer paper, hand baste the folded edges, and it was then read to attach to my pre-quilted background.  Because the large boulders were....well, large, I put a layer of Mistyfuse to the backs of them.  Then I arranged them on the background and pressed into place.  SO EASY! 
Then, one by one, I hand appliqued all around the edges of each and every boulder.  I love hand applique, so I enjoyed that part too. And, I like the way the turned under edges look.
Next, I put tracing paper on top and sketched in some tiny chockstones.  I used these little mini-sketches to make the tiny rocks and help with their placements.  In retrospect, I am not sure I needed to do that much planning.  Many of the little rocks were moved to different locations and used in different ways than I originally planned.  I also discovered that I needed a lot more little rocks than I expected.

I probably could have obsessively filled every blank spot between the big boulders, because I loved the little rocks so much.  However, I also really like the shapes made by the white background, so organic and interesting, and those shapes disappear if you add too many little rocks.  In design language this is called the negative space. So, with great hesitancy, I stopped making the little rocks and let the negative space totally rock!
I finally added some machine quilting to the tops of the large boulders in giant organic spirals with contrasting threads.  Absolutely loved this part!  And, because of the Mistyfuse on the backs, the shapes were held in place really well during the quilting of the large spirals.  This means that there were no distortions or wrinkles from the last stage of quilting.  A welcome outcome because this part is a technically challenging to do well.

This is my second boulder quilt.  Four of the boulders here were my prototypes for making this quilt:
Boulder Field was made from boulder shaped blocks that were completely machine pieced.  I loved the way the boulders fit together in the design of this quilt, but I also wanted to try appliqued boulders to enjoy more freedom in the placements.  I can't decide which I like better!  Both of them work for me!