I have added the same embroidery stitch on to the snake as the edges of the original shapes, the dotted line stitch. I used a variegated thread that changed only every 12". It had colours grading from yellow to orange to red, hot pink and bright purple. Although I am a fan of bright colours, the bright purple and hot pink are not in keeping with the overall colour scheme...so a red fabric marker fixes that. Colour over the hot pink with red and it becomes a dark red, over the bright purple it becomes a dark plum/brown...much better. And if I slip whilst colouring in with the marker...it's ok coz I am working on a black background...all good. So I vary my variegated thread! The snake now has an extra two layers of batting underneath so she will trapunto quite well...fingers crossed.
Now...I thought it was all going too smoothly. Everything falling into place, colour and design all going well...until the koalas. I shall now admit having selected fabrics, traced and cut out 16 koalas, ironing on, and then stitching around in black...adding red...changing to green, trying yellow...now un-picking red, green, yellow...now un-picking purple/brown coloured koalas and going back to black. If I add that up, that's about 4 hours I am now reversing and un-sewing takes about five times as long...ahhhhh. But I will un-pick when I know it is worth it. Everything else is working so well I don't want to spoil it for the trouble of un-picking. Gives me an excuse to catch up on some DVD's for a while anyway. Now with koalas in place, black and stitched in red I am ready to sandwich up!
Talking of lunch...did you know koalas eat only one particular tree and spend most of their day eating and sleeping? The name koala in the aboriginal language means "that which does not drink" and the aboriginals did not hunt the koalas. Koalas get most of their moisture from the young leaves and don't often venture to the bush floor. It is said the koala, like the one asleep on the left is quite "stoned" from the eucalyptus oil in the gum tree leaves. That's why they are so laid back, casual, and sleepy. Koalas are in no way related to a bear which is often how they are referred. They are a marsupial with a pouch for the young ones to latch on to mums milk. When the koala is a toddler, mum carries it on her back. Mum has only one back so only one baby every second year is the norm. They are a wonderful part of what makes Australia so unique but unfortunately; our white influence in this country for over 200 years has meant drops in the koala population as they were killed for their fur. Now they have an eye disease making them blind and vulnerable to predators, so they it is quite rare to actually see them in the wild unless you know where to go looking. They are wonderfully soft cuddly creature, but there are very few opportunities in Australia to actually cuddle one...but when I did...I cried. It is very special indeed. They have huge claws for climbing so it can get dangerous and will scratch and claw if provoked. They really want to be left alone to chew, relax, and sleep it off man!
Photo by Helen Godden
Ok. I have sandwiched the quilt using basting spray and safety pins, so let's start stitching. That's my mum there...supervising. She loves this quilt, all her kinda colours. I am going to start in the middle and secure the snake, then work around the lyrebird areas, then secure some of the ribbons beginning with the green emu ribbon. It should trapunto up then (is trapunt the verb? It is Italian meaning to fatten...I have been trapunto-ing my body lately). Once some major ribbons are quilted in place, there should be very little movement across the quilt.
Photo by Helen Godden
I am going with a busy backing fabric and using matching bobbin thread with is not my norm. I usually opt for a plain back with strong contrasting bobbin thread, say purple or usually black, so the "drawing" I do with my quilting shows up on the back and is a fun extra feature. This also shows up any glitch or hick-up in tension or start/stop points. I have had some peer advice suggesting I don't use plain backs so judges cannot see any glitches...so I am conforming slightly and ouch...it hurts!
Did I mention the animals are all raw edge applique? You no doubt have worked that out anyway. I work almost 90% of my stitching in free motion. I really have to concentrate on how to operate the machine if I just want to do straight stitch...only happens for bindings really. When I work medium a size piece, I am on my Husqvarna VIKING, either my favorite Designer II or my new fabulous Sapphire 870...that's the one with the really wide throat section...10" which is 2'' bigger than most domestic machines. It's what we girls have always wanted, right!
Koalas will next have suggestions of gum tree trunk and lots of branches of gum leaves around them...added with black marker and detailed with green thread. That's the plan, so wait and see.
Photo by Helen Godden
I have completed all the quilting around the kangaroo background with a subtle tan colour. The quilting echoes the jump of the roos and has spiral circles amongst it which represent the aboriginal dreamtime patterns. It is interesting to note that in many ancient civilizations, the spiral pattern appears as a significant symbol often depicting the sun. For the Australian aboriginal, this symbol represents a meeting place or a waterhole but it is more of a cluster of concentric circles rather than a spiral. But a spiral is easier to quilt than individual circles. As I tell students, it's all about continuous line work.
Photo by Helen Godden
On the home stretch now-as I am quilting, my mind is wandering off to the next potential quilt. This is a sign that I know this piece will work and I can see its fruition so I am dreaming and planning my next piece. I have to admit...I am thinking a lot about Houston too...with three prizes to accept, I will be there with flying colours! I have read some of your comments and hear you asking to see the finished quilt. I hope to have her complete before we fly out and if there is room in the luggage, I shall bring Australian Rhapsody to share. So more stitching and less typing.
Put Alex and Ricky together - and it is fact, they will figure out something to do - On the road to tape this year's legend, Ricky and Alex took out some time to explore. Over the next few weeks TQS will give to hints as to who the next legend is via video blogs - ENJOY and let the guessing continue!