Friday, February 19, 2016

Parrot Plumes

I am so excited to share this quilt.  I fell in love with this pattern when I saw it on a Blogger's Quilt Festival post over a year ago.  I downloaded the pattern and printed it out.  Then it sat waiting for a reason to make it.  Knowing where a quilt is going seems to help with my creative process.

Dr. Holmes has been my vet for over 10 years.  Has it really been that long?  She's been with me through the ups and downs of eight guinea pigs.  Early last year she started her own practice (Holmes Family Veterinary Clinic).  I know she likes parrots, plus the old office had some wonderful feather prints I admired.  The walls in the new clinic were so bare.  Excellent!  That was the inspiration I needed to make the quilt.  A congrats/Christmas/thank-you gift all wrapped into one that could decorate the new place.  During the year I kept my eye out for African greys and pinks, and macaw blues and greens as I dreamed of a feather quilt.

As I planned the quilt I realized it was going to be a stretch project: a new pattern to try, a lot of white space to quilt and a flange binding to sew.  I was a little concerned packing a bunch of new techniques in a single quilt.  What if they all went wrong?  But it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try them.

The feathers took longer to piece than I had anticipated; I played with color combinations on every feather until it grabbed me.  Once I had the feathers stitched together, I tried a few layouts before I picked this one.  The border just came together and the blues and green spread evenly around the edge.  A pleasant surprise!  I had a hard time imagining how the binding would look, but I'm very pleased with that, too.  And look - square corners!  All four of them.  I have no idea what I did right.

I was still hoping to have this done by Christmas, until I started the quilting.  All that white space was daunting.  I poured over a lot of ideas until I found another feather quilt that was quilted in this style.  I fell in love.  Pebbles.  Swirls.  This was insane.  I hate stitching pebbles.  My swirls never look that good.  The quilt was obviously quilted professionally on a longarm... and it didn't matter.  That was the pattern I wanted.  I kept returning to it.  When I broke it down to its individual pieces, it didn't seem so overwhelming.  I went for it.  I spent a lot of time doodling the pattern until I felt I could stitch it on my machine.

As I wrote in an earlier post - I picked a contrasting thread to quilt with, then decided it was too dark.  Rather than ripping the stitches, I picked two lighter shades of thread.  That worked out really well.  The long wavy lines are stitched in the dark (taupe) thread.  They didn't jump out at all once I surrounded them with lighter colors.  I stitched the pebbles with the ecru thread so the overstitching doesn't show.  The rest was quilted with the buff thread.  The camera doesn't pick it up, but it gives a subtle golden glow to the quilting.

I framed the label with extra feather pieces, which is why it's wonky.  Rob jokingly suggested that I name the quilt Bird is the Word.  I considered that for a while; it made me chuckle.  In the end I named it simply Parrot Plumes.  I put pockets in all four corners on the back, so the quilt can be hung in any direction.

Have I ever posted this many photos in a single blog post?

One last photo:  it was a week or two after finishing the quilt before I brought it to my vet.  I hung it on the wall where Shattered Kites usually resides.  I admired and critiqued it every day (for good or bad).  My favorite time to view it was in the evening when the lamp below was lit.  It cast the quilting in shadow which caused me to stop and say:

     Damn.  I made that.

I will miss Parrot Plumes (although Shattered Kites looks better on that wall).  I dropped it off yesterday morning when I picked up Cannoli's medication.  I was unable to wait to give it to Dr Holmes personally (bummer), but I'm sure she likes it.  When I first decided to make this quilt, the walls at the clinic were empty.  This was supposed to be finished months ago.  Now I hope there's a spot to hang it; it would be nice to see when I'm hauling in bad pigs. 

I learned a lot (including that I dislike working with a white background).  Flange bindings are pretty neat, although I kind of miss the hand stitching.  I will definitely do one of them again.  My freemotion is improving.  I'm already plotting and planning my next quilt, which I'm sure I'll love as much as this one.


  1. Isn't it just the best crafty feeling when a project is a success on so many levels? Congrats! And I'll bet your vet is thrilled!

  2. must you make one for yourself?? I would. This is just so great. The colors are exciting and your quilting is inspired. It has movement and flow, often missed these days. When You make one for you, make me one too, okay? LeeAnna

  3. very nice quilting! It draws you in, I bet the patrons at the clinic will love it.

  4. Oooh the quilting on it is wonderful!! What a great present.


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