I made this quilt as a (somewhat belated) wedding gift for my brother and sister-in-law. I came up with the idea for the design while flying into Grande Prairie, Alberta, for a visit last fall – most of my extended family lives there. The quilt is meant to look like a bird’s-eye-view of farmland, with a river meandering through it.
When I was doing a little research about meandering rivers, I learned that the english word meander comes from a river in Turkey (via the Greeks)… which is extra cool because my sister-in-law’s family is from Turkey! So I feel that this quilt design a serendipitous symbol for our two families histories coming together.
The quilt top is machine pieced wool blend plaid fabrics. I tried several times to draft on paper a pleasing pattern for the patchwork fields and to plan where the river was going to cut across them… but after hours of gnashing my teeth I threw the plans out the window and proceeded by intuition and improvisation. Much more fun.
I used yarn to map out where I wanted to river to run – I just kept rearranging the line until I found a pleasing shape, and the yarn was easy to shape into a graceful curve. Once I had the line decided on, I laid parchment paper carefully on top and traced the river shape in sections (carefully numbered so I knew which order they went in!), and then traced those segments onto heat ‘n bond paper. Sorry I have no photos of this process to show you – it was a little complicated.
I then fused the heat n’ bond to the wrong side of my river fabric (a slighty fulled wool plaid) and cut them out with a rotary knife. Then I removed the paper backing and arranged my river segments onto the now completed patchwork fields top. Once the pieces were in place, I ironed them down. It was then a piece of cake to zigzag around the applique, confident it wasn’t going to wiggle around and without having to use a million pins.
The crowning achievement with this project was that although I used the machine to piece it together, the actual quilting I did by hand. A first for me! I admit I used super big stitches (about 3 per inch), but I am so pleased with the results nonetheless. I used 3 strands of DMC embroidery cotton and followed the shape of the river, with my lines of quilting about 4 inches apart.
I use cotton batting and soft cotton flannel to back the quilt, so this beauty is super warm. It measures about 80 by 65 inches. I hope it will keep T & A warm and cozy for many, many years!