Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Alex's Quilt -- "Smoke on the Water"


I met Alex Anderson at Houston Quilt Market in the early 1990's; this was before Simply Quilts started taping and around the time her first book was published with C&T Publishing. I started machine quilting for her shortly thereafter and have quilted a lot of her quilts. For many years, those quilts took the traditional path and I did a lot of crosshatching, cables and feathers.

Alex has always been known for her superb sense of color and fabric selection and now I see her bringing that into less traditional quilts. Within the last couple of years, she has made quilts that featured pieced circles, sometimes combined with pieced rectangles and squares and sometimes with pieced in little "squigglies". When she "loosened up" to do some less traditional things, it freed me up to try some different things, too.

The first quilt she gave me that was more "arty", I just froze! Where was I going to put the feathers? So traditional treatments just went out the window and I got to play on the quilt. Then I did a couple of more and they were much less intimidating. Yes -- I could quilt without stencils! Of course, that doesn't mean I'm giving them up, just not using them for the less traditional quilts that come my way.


When Alex showed this quilt at AAQ retreat last year, I was really drawn to the corals and blues. My first thought was back to the old Deep Purple song, probably from the 70s, "Smoke on the Water". Although this is a traditional Drunkard's Path design, the colors definitely give it a more modern feel, so that's what I decided to quilt....

First I doodled designs on paper -- every time I was on the phone or otherwise had some downtime I grabbed a pencil and paper and played with flames. Then I drew some flames into one of the coral areas with air soluble marker. It was just to give me an idea of what I was going to stitch, so I didn't want the markings to stay on the quilt very long.



Decided to use a King Tut variegated thread (color #929) in flame colors that went well with the corals in the quilt; the bobbin thread is Mettler 100% cotton silk finish thread (#806). It blended well with the King Tut and also looked good with the coral polka dot on the back.


Grabbed a muslin piece out of the drawer that had a lot of other stitching on it and practiced flames for a bit....



Decided that the consistency of my stitch length left something to be desired, so installed the Bernina Stitch Regulator foot and did it again -- much better!



Now to try it on the quilt -- I like it! My goal is to get all the flames done today and then start marking the water....

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