Can You Quilt the Grass?

Generally, no two quilts of mine are quilted the same.  Honestly, I don't think I've ever even stippled the same sort of way twice.  Many times I am inspired by a certain fabric in a quilt - flowers on a quilt with flowered fabric, for example.  Sometimes I am inspired by the graphic nature of a quilt and choose to reflect or accentuate it with the quilting design.  And sometimes, the original inspiration brings out the quilting design.  Such was the case with my Grass quilt.

I wanted the quilting to look like blades of grass.  There is all that white that was begging show off some cool quilting.  Really, the quilt top was even designed with this quilting idea in mind.

In order to pull off a new idea effectively you can't just throw some thread in the machine and see what happens.  As anxious as I usually am to start quilting the second I've closed my last pin I do like to do a bit more prep work before the needle hits my quilt sandwich.

The first thing I do is sketch.  More than once a quilt pattern comes from some random doodle done in a fit of boredom.  Last week I was on a conference call and my mind was wandering to exactly how I was going to quilt blades of grass without actually sewing a bunch of vertical lines down the quilt top.  I have no idea what was said about feed-in-tariffs that day, but from my first doodle on a sticky to this full sheet sketch I knew I had a good pattern. 

It was important to me to capture the randomness of growing grass and the movement you see when you get down on the ground and actually look at the grass.  I also didn't want it to look like a whole bunch of scratches stretching horizontally across the quilt.  I think the full sketch captured what I had envisioned in my head.  On to testing.

An old quilting friend of mine once gave us some really good machine quilting tips at a retreat. One of the tips she passed on was to create a binder of machine quilting samples.  Take note of thread, tension, and tips to make a pattern work.  That way there will be no second guessing when you want to do that pattern a second, third, or fourth time.  It also works well for testing a pattern and working out any kinks before you tackle a big quilt.

This was the sample I made to test my sketch.  In this case making a sample was a very good idea.  On my machine, when I do more curves I have to have my tension set quite light. That did not work on this pattern.  Problem corrected I also realized that this pattern was going to require some good speed control.  In just a few minutes I worked out my frustrations and was able to develop some rhythm for quilting.

On to the quilt.
Holy crap, I'm in love with this.  I still worry it is a bit to flame-like, but it really is exactly what I wanted. The amount of thread this is using is phenomenal - one bobbin doesn't even do two horizontal passes of the quilt.  Really, I could care less about the thread costs (I am so not doing that math at all).

Now, just to finish.  I'm only about a third done. Sometime in August...