My mom is an amazing photographer. She captured this image called Fuchsia:
And this is what I recently turned it into: a quilt!
That's my mom there, Elizabeth Root Blackmer, holding the finished product.
She's printed on paper, glass, silk, and aluminum over the years, each with amazing results. The aluminum prints immediately below are absolutely stunning in person, and the silks below that were beyond ethereal.
She recently had a show at a photography gallery that included seventy of her various prints. You can view more of her work on her website: BrootPhoto.com.
It seemed time to combine our interests and print one of her images on quilting fabric. Neither of us was completely satisfied with the saturation of the print on the fabric, but for a prototype, it provided us with what we needed to know for the next time.
Here's what I started with: the image printed on a yard of fabric, a yard of solid fuchsia for the backing, and seven colors of thread.
For those who might wonder, the fabric was printed by Spoonflower. We've since put in another order and are hoping for more accurate saturation of the colors.
Here's what the original printed fabric looked like just after it had been washed and ironed. The printed image measured 25 by 40 inches, and by extension, the quilt came out measuring just shy of that.
It was difficult to know where to start quilting as I didn't have a plan and was just winging it. I figured that I'd begin with the small white bits and sewed them directly onto scraps of batting so that they were tamped down to something (if not, washing the quilt in the future could make a huge mess of things when the batting wads up).
Also, I wanted the white bits—which were mostly droplets—to have a slightly 3D feel to them. Here's what the back looked like with the bits of quilted batting; I then cut carefully around the shapes.
As an example of how the white islands look on the final product, here's a preview:
Then I placed a whole piece of batting on the back and started quilting the darkest color on the fabric with my darkest purple thread. This time it was the printed fabric and the batting, but still without the final fabric backing (you'll understand why when you read about my topo lines below).
Some of the light and bright green also needed this pre-backing treatment as there were islands of those colors within the fabric that needed to be captured before the more prolific colors got quilted. In the following image, the purples had also been quilted, but you can see where the greens existed as islands—unreachable from any edge.
Once the colors that existed as islands were quilted to the batting, I layered the fuchsia backing fabric to the sandwich of printed fabric and batting, and started quilting the larger swaths of color that ran from the edges all the way in and then back out again.
I'm not sure how many of you know this, but in my real life, I'm a cartographer. I love me some topo lines, so I quilted this such that the back looks like a topo map. Plus, I freaking loathe tying the hundreds of knots in the back of a quilt (I always think they look messy and I know that they will eventually come loose and unravel). As such, I quilted from one edge into the image and back out again, avoiding the need to tie knots—instead, I backstitched the heck out of each thread's beginning and ending. This is what the back of the completed quilt looks like because of this method. Dude: topo map!
So, that's why I quilted this quilt the way I did, first to bits of batting, then to a whole piece of batting, and then with the fabric backing. Also, I quilted around the bubbles as best as I could while going in and out, and used the various thread colors to create the visual texture of the piece.
Maybe you can imagine the maddening forethought it took to freehand each of these lines so that they didn't overlap at any point but so that enough of the complete layers of the quilt were actually stitched together.
Once all the quilting was done, to ensure that none of my backstitched threads were ever going to release, I double stitched around the whole edge of the image and then I cut everything away except for about a quarter-inch of white around the remaining image.
I had originally planned to add a traditional border to the quilt, but decided against it. Instead, I sacrificed a small percentage of the image all the way around to create a border by carefully double-folding the edges of the quilt all around and stitching them into place.
And once again, I'll mention how annoying I find it to tie knots, so I very carefully stitched all the way around and created all the quadruple (at least) stitching on all the corners using one freaking thread. Epic win!
So really, except for the one blasted thread that broke during quilting and that I had to repair with a knot, there is only one other visible knot in this entire quilt!
Oh, and this is where this quilt was made—in Tenants Harbor, Maine:
I've been visiting my parents for a few months and as a Mother's Day gift I painted out this room for my mom—it went from yellow and white to a light grey on all walls and ceiling, and with fresh bright white trim throughout. Before I moved her back into the room, I took it over as an office and quilting space. The light in here is awesome and her photography will look amazing in here. Or maybe some quilts ...