We live in a university town. My husband teaches at Iowa State University and by this fall I will have two kids attending as students. Maybe it's time to add a little cardinal and gold to my home decor. Just a little though.
Iowa State has two resident swans, Lancelot and Elaine, on Lake LaVerne on campus. Elizabeth Hartman's pattern Swan Island is a perfect fit! When Rachel at Quilting Connection chose the red and gold accents for a store sample, it struck me as just the right touch of ISU tradition and colors. The kit includes only the fabric for the swans and you add your choice of background. Brown fits my living room furniture, and it sure makes the swans pop. They kept me busy for a day or two, then sat on the design wall waiting for me to quilt them and turn them into pillows.
So, back to the idea of a quick finish. Piecing the swans kept me busy for a couple of days, but the quick finish eluded me because of that creative void. I didn't want an allover pattern like the one used on the pattern cover because there is too much contrast between my swans and my background. The quilting would be either too showy on the swans or too showy on the background. I knew what I didn't want but had no clue what to quilt instead. My swans hung on the wall for a couple of months.
A couple of days ago I decided to at least prepare the quilt sandwiches (I was going to say baste but that sounds like I am roasting these swans!) By the time I finished stitching in the ditch around and in the swan block, I had a plan for the background too.
I used my Westalee rulers to start stitching concentric circles centered on the front of the swan. Since I don't have any that will let me stitch out anything larger than about 12" in diameter, I switched to my walking foot with a guide arm for the larger circles, switching to a very long stitch length when I had to stitch across the swan. This let me keep track of the curve on successive rounds until I got past the swan.
I needed each of those curves as a guide to follow on the next round, all the way out to the edge, but the long stitches across the swan were easy to pick out afterwards. I wrote a post all about this method several years ago.
I like how it turned out. Last light I prepared a zippered pillow back, this morning I sewed the front to the back, and tomorrow I'll bring home some coordinating fabric for binding. I bought brown for the binding yesterday when I popped into the shop for brown thread, but now I am leaning towards binding in fabric that matches the feather tips.
This is almost a finish, and I think my creativity is stirring. Next up: quilting the butterfly quilt. I has a longarm quilter baste it for me and it is ready for me to get started. I'm going to try starting with stitching in the ditch again and hope ideas for the rest come to me while I stitch.