I recently finished and gifted this mini quilt to a fellow quilting friend as part of a small private swap, and now that it has been received, I can tell you all about it! I entitled it, “Let Your Heart Shine True”, and it’s meant to be a visual representation of the fact that the goodness in your heart shines through, despite any missteps, mistakes, wrong words, or other things we personally may feel will tarnish or cloud our good intentions. It was made for Yvonne of Quilting Jetgirl, who often reflects on her introverted personality and how it influences her day to day, both quilting and non. The design inception came after Yvonne posted a number of articles about the struggles of attempting social interaction as an introverted person. The articles mentioned a desire to have people understand your good intentions, even if the words or actions that emerged as a result of an uncomfortable social interaction as an introvert may have been less than smooth. I think we are all familiar with foot in mouth syndrome; at least I am!
This is my first attempt at a “statement quilt”, per se. My thought was that the quilt would show the large pieces on top as representing “people”, and the rippled reflection below being the public perception of the person. When mistakes are made, things are said in a not so clear way, or even just general awkward social interactions happen, those are the ripples that cause the reflection to be jarred and shaken. Yet despite the ripples and the jolted reflection, the heart remains intact and unbroken. If you lead with the heart, your good intentions ultimately must become known, no matter how many times you need to back pedal or rephrase things to clarify your meaning. I thought creating a statement quilt for Yvonne was fitting, since she has created a number of quilts as part of her Reclamation Project, which she describes as “a project series to explore discomfort in [her] life with the hope that [she] can reclaim and redefine.” I primarily create quilts as things of beauty, but I thought it would be fun to try to create one that is both beautiful and meaningful.
The construction of this mini quilt was a fun multi-step process. I began by needle-turn appliquéing the rounded pieces onto panels of background fabric. I cut the bottom pieces with an identical free-style rounded top, but with much longer length since I planned to cut and resew it many times. Once they were appliquéd onto the background fabric, I cut random, varied width strips from the bottom ones, off-set it enough to wobble but not extend beyond the width of the finished panel, and resewed it. Each one was cut and re-sewn six or seven times to create the rippled effect. Let me tell you–that first cut into the needle-turned mound was a bit nerve-wracking! It was another one of those times I just had to trust that the vision in my head would translate well to reality.
After rippling all three reflections, I squared each panel and sewed them together creating a horizon with a very narrow, approximately 1/8″ strip of solid orange fabric (Kona Persimmon, I think!). Yvonne’s favorite colors are blue and orange, which clearly influenced my fabric selection. I used some of our mutual favorite oranges from Carolyn Friedlander, and added some sketch by Timeless Treasures and an unknown solid from my early quilting days stash. I bound it in blue Mercury by Alison Glass, including a bit of framing while adding a bit from another mutually adored fabric designer.
For quilting, I knew I wanted to matchstick quilt the background, but have the lines become gradually further apart in the bottom half, similar to ripples becoming less dense the further from the source they extend. I matchstick quilted the background of the top portion with 50wt Aurifil 1320-Medium Teal. To keep my rows evenly spaced, I used a stitch length of 3.0 on my Bernina 560, and I carefully moved two stitches (with a three-stitch gap thrown in here and there for interest) between rows. For the bottom portion, I first matchstick quilted with the same 1320-Medium Teal 50wt Aurifil, but instead of making the rows two stitches apart like I did for the top portion, I increased the number of stitches by one between each row. I moved one stitch between the first and second rows, two stitches between the second and third rows, three stitches between the third and fourth rows, etc., all the way to the bottom of the mini quilt. I think at the bottom, each row was 19 or 20 stitches away from the previous row. Yes, it got a bit trickier to keep my quilting lines straight, but I eyeballed it and it turned out well. Organic lines were my goal, after all.
After that, the quilt begged for some more quilting, so I added random rows in yellow, gold, and orange for interest (40 wt 1135-Pale Yellow, 50 wt 5022-Mustard, and 50 wt 1154-Dusty Orange respectively). Both the top and bottom ended up pretty thoroughly matchstick quilted, but I really like the addition of the yellow, gold, and orange thread in the bottom, as well as the added interest of using a slightly heavier weight thread as the yellow. It reminds me of light reflecting off the ripples in a pond, which is perfect given the intention of the quilt.
After matchstick quilting this mini, I can certainly see why people are so drawn to dense quilting. It creates a whole new textural element to the quilt!
I’m really happy with the final result of this mini quilt–it pretty much looks exactly like I imagined. Yvonne is also happy with it, even though it took months for me to finally finish each part and mail it, so that makes for one happy exchange! The true joy in quilting is in the giving, and it feels really great to have been able to create a little daily visual reminder for Yvonne that as long as you lead with your heart, joy will be found.