It starts with a river . . . . .

Before I started on my bed quilt for Enter the Forest of Dreams, I looked through some of my photos of forests.

A Dartmoor woods with river

From the beginning, it felt right to have a river flowing through the quilt.  I collected all of my fabric from The Cloth House in Soho and Exeter Fabric Centre in forest floor and river colours.

To begin, I got all of my Warm and Natural cotton batting and joined it together to make a huge rectangle.  It’s the remainder of about 15 yards I bought in America in 1998 before I moved to the UK, which I’ve been using for all of the quilts I’ve made over the past 13 or so years.  I laid the batting out on our living room floor and sketched in the outline of the river.  The finished dimensions will be 70″ x 95″ (178 x 240 cm) way too big for my design wall, so I’ve taken over our living room for the duration!

Then, I pieced some purple-green silk dupioni for the river.

I originally thought about piecing the forest floor fabric in large organic shapes, similar to the piecing I did in the headboard quilt.  But, the design wasn’t really working. I also thought about a crazy quilt pattern, since I’m using a lot of silks, velvets, tafettas.  Again, I didn’t really like the examples I saw – a bit too random and messy crazy.   I did some online research and came across a pieced diamond shape pattern, which Kaffe Fassett has made very popular.  It seemed like it would stitch together and grow quickly and I like the angles of the shapes and how the colours can flow together and apart.  I like the way the regularity of the pattern contrasts with the hanging quilt.  Plus, I’ll have the river flowing through the middle to break up the uniformity.   I cut all of my fabric into 7″ diamonds with a 60° angle.

And laid them out right onto the batting.

Since I am using so many different types of fabrics, it’s very challenging to piece them.  Especially the silk velvet!  The diamonds curl up like leaves, so I’ve cut out diamond shapes in freezer paper and ironed that onto the back of the silk velvet pieces to stabilise them during the piecing.

floppy silk velvet

I worked for about 7 hours today and got about a third of the diamonds stitched together.  It’s a bit of a slog and I felt like a quilting robot today.  I ripped out and re-stitched several feet of stitching when the points just didn’t line up.  Its looking really good though and I’m thinking ahead to how I’ll do the river, which will be very organic and flowing.  I’m looking forward to that part!


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