Meandering river quilt

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.

test swatch

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.

patchwork top

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!



4 Responses

  1. very cool lady!

  2. It’s currently being put to *very* good use as the tiny-couch knitting/reading/dozing quilt! Thanks Anna 🙂

  3. What a great quilt! I love the meandering river, and that wool looks so warm and cuddly 🙂

    PS: this is Gabrielle from high school, I’m so happy to see you flourishing as an artist out in the world. It was so exciting to randomly stumble onto your stuff of the interwebs! I’m blogging about arts and crafts experiments too over at TinyApartmentCrafts.

  4. Oh, Anna! It’s absolutely beautiful. Wonderful work. Totally understand the landscape quilt impulse too–not that I quilt, but the landscape around me, especially from a plane, lends itself perfectly to this idea. So interesting too to imagine just how different a Sacramento Valley quilt would be from an Alberta quilt.

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