Materials: quilting cottons, batiks, silks, eco-dyed silk; wool batting
Techniques: Needle turn applique, machine piecing, hand embroidery, hand and machine quilting
The star of this piece, the botanical applique, measures over 3'0" in height and is cut from one piece of cloth. I cannot tell you how many cozy winter hours were spent stitching it in place, but I can tell you they were glorious, for this piece marked a turning away from shame and embarrassment toward a place of acceptance, empowerment and love.
This plant and I are friends, as it greets me on my summer walks. It grows in the shade of a much larger tree and the silhouette always catches my attention. When I drew it, I had no idea where it would take me, and what a journey! Love of nature, love of self.
The making of this piece began with the central hand applique panel, (detail above), followed by the frame of triangles. It was at this point that the piece hung on my wall, unclear how to move forward. Weeks later, it came to me that just one final border was needed, and it should be fairly deep, with some movement and a kind of glow to it.
Have you ever faced a deadline and known that the only way forward is the most involved, labor-intensive and meticulous process? Well, I chose one inch squares, individually cut and sewn. 1,408 squares of sumptuous color. While it seems a daunting number now, those days in the studio were so much fun and saturated with color that I hardly realized the quantity of squares I was sewing together! My Instagram feed is a nice place to see more of my process making this border, showing how I laid out values and made beautiful color combinations: @tierneybarden.
As the quilt was nearing the finish line, one of the final touches was hand quilting the feathers. I had long wanted to give hand quilting a try, and this was my chance to dip my toe in the water. First, I marked the feather stencil (purchased from local Mennonites), with a water soluble marking pen. For three of the feather circles, I used Valdani variegated perle cotton, size 12 (detail photo), and for the large feather circle, DMC metallic copper floss. Quilting through two layers of wool batting was a dream, and the loft was just right to show off the hand work.
The final element of this quilt's story is an ugly duckling/swan hand embroidered on the main panel. A small piece of my eco-dyed silk was used to accent the swan's head. When I was working on this part of the story, I was thinking of one of my idols, Hans Christian Andersen. If you haven't read his tale, The Ugly Duckling, give it a go this weekend. It's a good one at any age.
plucked from one's natural habitat
pinned into position with an exacting hand
stored in the deep shadows of a drawer
examined at will
As always, I enjoy your feedback and welcome conversation at email@example.com, @tierneybarden on Instagram, or right here in the comments below.