Sunday, June 27, 2010

Butterfly Days - Kay


Butterfly Days
18 x 18
Machine appliqued and pieced, machine quilting, hand embroidery


Butterflies must be one of the most common motifs in fabric, second only to flowers. So a traditional approach seemed appropriate.  I liked the article I linked to earlier about why butterflies were so popular in depression era quilts.  The current time could also use some optimism, so I thought an homage to those 1930's quilters was in order.  The line from Robert Frost's poem Blue Butterfly Day is appropriately sentimental (out of context, at least) for an embroidered motto.  So that's the history of this design.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, could be farther away from my usual taste or style.


The motto is hand embroidery, but the applique is fused and edged with machine buttonhole stitch.  In an incredible example of synchronicity, when I was thinking about making this, I came across a 2001 issue of QNM which someone had brought to guild as a give away.  It contained an article by Beverly Dunivent explaining how to make machine buttonhole stitch look more like handwork and duplicate those 1930's butterflies.  She suggested using two strands of cotton machine embroidery thread.  I used Sulky 30 weight, and I do like the look; my Janome resented being asked to do this, however.

I chose fabrics from my stash as close to the 1930's look as possible, but branched out a bit in the edging.  The whole look is darker than a traditional quilt of that type, maybe not so optimistic after all.  Finally, this is my first, and definitely last,  attempt at a prairie point edging!

11 comments:

  1. What a sweet piece, Kay. Really evokes a sense of nostalgia. How brave of you to attempt prairie points--after your comment, I'll be sure to never do them. Not that I was planning to.

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  2. I love the look of old fashioned buttonholing & I think the Janome does a really good imitation of it.

    I think your piece is an example of traditional quilting interpreting the photo perfectly. Not all pieces have to be "art quilts". Nicely done!

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  3. That is a fitting homage to the quilts of the thirties! I would never have guessed that the buttonhole stitch was done by machine- your Janome may have protested, but it did a nice job nonetheless.

    Thanks for the heads up about prairie points. I'll put them on my list of Things I Never Need to Try!

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  4. Very pleasing design and wow! That machine buttonhole stitch looks like handwork to me! I did one small quilt with prairie points and the corners were the devil to finish right!!

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  5. I have one of those 1930's butterfly quilt and you have chosen the exact style butterfly and fabric to pay homage. I think the prairie points are the perfect finish and am glad you forged ahead even though they gave you trouble. The machine sewn buttonhole stitch is amazing!

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  6. You're right! I wouldn't have recognized this as yours. It's an interesting interpretation and a nice piece. The prairie points edging is a good touch that adds interest to the traditional butterfly blocks.

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  7. PS: You've utilized contrast of values well to showcase the butterflies. The contrasting hue of the thin border around each block is a nice touch as well.

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  8. I really do like this sweet little piece. A nice mix of updated colors along with an old fashioned motif and idea. Clever use of that buttonhole stitch too. Does it mean that you threaded two types of thread through the needle at once? Or just that you used a heavier thread that stands out? Either way the effect is great. Let's see some more prairie points:)

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  9. Oh Kay you did a great job!!!! Definitely you got the effect of the 30's era. Oh for certain. You made me laugh about the prairie points.

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  10. I was shocked when I first saw this piece! I was confused by its traditional style. But then I read your statement about the piece and it all made sense. I can now really appreciate it!

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  11. Interpret This! - indeed, wonderfully done. Loved the prairie points, chuckled at your last sentence and although forewarned I may still have to try them.

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Thanks for stopping by and commenting!