Jacaranda Tree Bargello Art Quilt

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Hey Everyone, welcome back to Inspirational Sunday.

The other evening I said that I would highlight each of my quilts for my gallery show that opens at the end of the week. The show is at Ridge West Gallery with the opening being Friday April 5 from 6 – 9 pm. The first one will be the tree.

I started this quilt back in a Gloria Loughman class one year at an Empty Spools Seminar. We were to arrive with photos as inspiration and so before leaving home I loaded a whole bunch of photos that Michael had taken onto my iPad hoping that one of them would speak to me very early in the class. One did speak to me and then I just drew a blank on how to build it.  I didn’t want it to be quite as dark as the photo and wasn’t sure what to do.

The photo I used for my inspiration.

The photo I used for my inspiration

You see I had already had a 5 day class with Vikki Pignatelli and so my brain was a bit overloaded and I was tired. I figured I might as well go for a walk to clear my head. I ended up at The Cotton Patch, the on-site shop and started looking at the fabric. I became inspired by the peach and teal batiks. With purchases in hand I headed back to the classroom to create.

I love Bargellos, as you all know, and decided that the background would be made with a Bargello design. This would give an illusion of movement in the sky. The fabrics I chose would definitely lighten up the piece and not be as dark and heavy as the photo.

Background complete it was time to add the tree. I decided the dead tree in the photo would not work and so I set to work drawing a tree. I by no means can draw or at least I didn’t think I could but my tree came out pretty good.  With a couple of recommendations from Gloria I was in business.

The perfect tree fabric was purchased and I set to work tracing and fusing. I wanted the tree to stand out and have some depth so I fused it onto fusible batting which proved very interesting to cut out. The fabric I chose was a perfect Gum tree trunk – smooth and bronze just as they are when they shed their bark twice a year.

The smooth trunk of a gum after shedding it's bark.

The smooth trunk of a gum after shedding it’s bark

The tree trunk fabric.

The tree trunk fabric

The tree was placed onto the background and stitched in place for transport home. In hindsight it would have been easier to leave the tree off and put it on after the background was quilted but that is not what I did so I had to deal with it.

Tree on completed background.

Tree on pieced background at end of workshop

Fast forward a couple of years. The quilt has sat around my studio unfinished, taken out a few times to look at and then placed back in the drawer. Finally, I had an idea of how to finish it.

I wasn’t sure what to do for the foliage and then I purchased the Leaves Galore rulers and thought, “oh I could use them to make the leaves.” I used the smallest ruler and cut ‘S’ shaped leaves. Each leaf and blossom pod is made up of 5 – ‘S’ shaped leaves. All are fused down with steam-a-seam Lite 2.

After much debate on fabrics for the leaves and blossoms I settled on the green with a bit of teal in it for the leaves and a light mauve/pink for the blossoms. The colour of the blossoms look like the flowers on a Jacaranda tree hence the name Jacaranda for the piece. This tree was in Roxby Downs where we lived in the Australian Outback and only bloomed in the spring – it was one of my favourite trees there.

Placing the leaves and blossoms on the branches

Placing the leaves and blossoms on the branches

Now that the piece was embellished with leaves and blossoms it was time to quilt it. I also added some dropped leaves and petals at the base of the tree on the ground as I felt it was rather bare at the base of the trunk.

I quilted the entire piece with a free motion foot. Around the tree, leaves and blossoms I used a free motion zigzag stitch. This allowed me to cover the edges heavily but with a jagged stitch rather than a very uniform stitch of the regular zigzag. I used a variety of threads including Rainbows by Superior and Robison-Anton threads. They both have a shine to them which makes the stitching stand out more.

A close up of the leaves and blossoms on bargello landscape art quilt

A close up of the leaves and blossoms

The interior stitching on the tree was done with a fine thread from the Bottom Line by Superior. I wanted it to blend in more than stand out but to create some texture definition especially since the tree had extra batting behind it.

Quilting of background sky and tree on bargello landscape art quilt

Quilting of background sky and tree

The background of the quilt was quilted with curved lines running horizontally across the quilt for the sky. The bottom of the quilt I echoed around many of the designs in the batik fabrics. I used King Tut by Superior, Sulky Blendables and Valdani threads to quilt this area. All are 100% cotton threads.

At last the quilt was finished. Not really looking at all like the photo I used as my inspiration but that’s okay as it was only my inspiration to give me the push to create this wonderful tree. I am extremely pleased with the results and I get to cross a UFO off the list to boot.

Hope to see you at the show opening on Friday.

Happy Quilting!

Jen Transparent Signature






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[Update: Richard and Tanya featured Jacaranda Tree on their Finish Friday post today, 12 April 2013!]