Ferris Wheels and Fireflies

>> Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Friends, work, and California sunshine conspired to keep me away from the blog for a bit. I was lucky to get selected for a seminar that took place in the Bay Area, and spent 10 days back in Northern California learning as well as hanging out with friends. While my nomadic life has its downsides, one of the major upsides is the opportunity to return to places and people I know well with some regularity. That said, this quilt is for Shira, the new daughter of one of my closest childhood friends.

We laugh about it now, but when our parents introduced us one summer, Beth and I were sort of unimpressed with one another. There was neither active liking or disliking, just that blase "our parents are friends but so what" reaction. Then the following fall, we took gymnastics classes together and sports accomplished what our parents could not: creating a lifelong, tight friendship. Back then, we lived a few miles away from one another, just far enough to require parents' shuttling us back and forth. Of course once we both left home for college, her parents moved to a house a couple streets away from my parents. While the timing precluded us from taking full advantage of this proximity, it's certainly been a boon to my visits home and, most recently, getting quilts to her family.

When Beth told me that she and Harley had decided on purple and green as the colors for the baby's room, I decided to make a quilt that would hopefully coordinate but also stand on its own. I used two blocks from Lynn's Big Fat Dresden Quilt-Along which I previewed here. After making the two blocks, I contemplated adding the thin border, per the QAL instructions. But never one to completely follow directions and wanting a quilt that measured something like 40x60 instead of 30x60, I went in a slightly different direction, and added what I think of as the "bamboo strips" to opposite sides of the circles. I used the scraps from cutting the dresden plates, pieced them together and sewed them to the grey at an angle, all very improvisationally which is why one got snatched up by the binding.

The quilting is a little melange of styles, with flowers, vine-like trellises, circles, and stippling. I placed one flower in the center of each dresden plate and then added them at irregular intervals along the bamboo. To make the quilting more continuous and therefore easier, I connected these flowers with trellis vines.

Then I free-motion quilted spirals in each dresden plate and added stippling around the edges. If I were to do it again, I think I would use my walked foot and follow seam lines for the circles as I think doing it freehand was harder than necessary. I want to try tighter, more controlled circles in the future as I've seen them on a lot of quilts recently and I like the effect, especially when the rest of the quilt has a lot of 90 degree angles.

For the back, I plucked a just-shy-of-2-yards piece of Soul Blossoms from my stash. It fit perfectly, and given all the motion on the front, I thought a single piece of fabric would be nice. For the binding, I chose the Lavender Fans from Tanya Whelan's Dolce collection, which I had also used in the dresden plates. As for the name, the circles reminded me summer carnival/boardwalk/festival ferris wheels while the bamboo strips add a twinkle of color, like fireflies on a summer's night. As I write this out, I'm thinking that perhaps "Shira's Splash of Summer" sums it up well. Here's to many fun summers ahead.


Alli July 6, 2011 at 1:49 PM  

That is a really neat baby quilt! I especially like how you added the bamboo strips -- it looks really modern. :)

felicity July 6, 2011 at 2:32 PM  

Love how you interpreted the pattern; the "bamboo" is inspired. Very interested in your quilting choices as my dresden (single) is basted and awaits inspiration....

Unknown July 6, 2011 at 3:06 PM  

I think this quilt is awesome. I really love it!

Leanne July 6, 2011 at 10:34 PM  

This is wonderful! I love your variation on the QAL quilt.

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