Friday, February 3, 2017

"Note To Self" - A Wholecloth Quilt inspired by the Lumineers

Do you leave yourself Post-its on your desk or little pop-up reminders on your computer? I do, but sometimes there are too many notes to keep track of. This message was so important I decided to make an entire quilt, so I can see it as soon as I walk up to my sewing room.

"And when she stood, she stood tall."

The quote is from the song "Slow It Down" by the Lumineers (hear this phrase at 3:27, though I thoroughly recommend listening to the whole song; I've loved it for years). As I've mentioned a couple of times, last year was a really rough year for my family health-wise. In the last half of the year, I felt like I needed a reminder to keep on powering through all the little parts of everyday life. This certainly paid off towards the end of the year in a lot of ways. When your family is suffering, you suffer, too. Things are better now health-wise, which I'm most grateful for every single day.

I'm fascinated with pairing lettering with free motion quilting, so I used three fonts I've experimented with before. I love using fonts and thread density to emphasize different parts of the quote - here I used Aurifil 2024 and 2600, 40 and 28 weight (I also traced over the words to make them even more prominent - related, my tips for working with heavy weight Aurifil threads). There's a lot of thought that goes into it! I usually don't trace the letters beforehand; I just mark the lines to quilt on. But I highly encourage marking if you are just starting out with quilting words.

 Some of my original thread choices.

To accompany the word "tall," I traced out some organic trees with my handy Fons and Porter chalk pencils, which I then quilted over using several different threads (Aurifil 1100, 2250, and 2277). My favorite ones are the pink trees.

I wanted the middle motif to separate the phrase in half but also speak for itself. I had to get the thread colors juuuust right so they wouldn't overpower the words. Orange peels are my favorite quilting theme, so I made use of them in a few ways - some subtle, some not so much. I also LOVE quilting pebbles, so I really went to town on them. Those itty bitty ones took forever, but the texture is so worth it!

I used a ton of different threads to achieve the balance I was looking for. My favorite was the variegated purple thread (3840), which glimmers at a distance. You can see it in the "organic"/imperfect straight lines at the right of the picture below. It's really hard to photograph accurately; the thread is much better seen in person. Thank you to Aurifil for allowing me a chance to work with it.

This quilt provided some much needed self-reflection and an outlet for my free motion quilting whims. I couldn't ask for anything more. Making in times of stress is so important. Also, it gave new meaning to a song I already love.

If you'd like to learn more about how to write with free motion, I'll be sharing my finished large wholecloth quilt soon (Today I Feel), and I have a special announcement coming up.

There's the quilt on top of my mini quilt wall, ready to greet me every day. It's happy, fulfilling sight!

If you could make a quilt with a song lyric, what would the lyric be? Or have you made one already? I'd love to hear about it/see a picture!


  1. Jess, this is so nice. Pretty quilting, great colors, lovely message. Wonderful finish. :-)

  2. I love your inspirational mini quilt! I want to do this, too. Not sure what I will write on it yet. Years ago I made my daughter a full size quilt and FMQed it all myself. I got bored with the stipple I was using and started writing words. I used a quote from Sleeping Beauty ("Don't touch anything!") that she and I used to say to each other, and some others. It was small writing, so people had fun trying to find different words and sayings throughout the quilt.
    Thanks for sharing your work!!!

  3. Quite the collection of mini quilts you've got going there!!

  4. I would quilt "slow slow still gets you there". Obviously I've taken this advice to heart since I haven't even started this wall hanging!

  5. Just wanted to say, your quilting is so inspirational!

  6. Neat! I especially like the top section. Not sure which lyrics I would use. I like many :)

  7. It's a great quote and quilt. I love seeing your quilting with words.

  8. I love this! It's so funny, while I was driving to work today I heard "Like a Rock" on the radio. I've heard a million times before, but never truly listened. I've also been experiencing a tough go lately and I heard the words "And I stood arrow straight, Unencumbered by the weight, Of all these hustlers and their schemes, I stood proud, I stood tall, High above it all
    I still believed in my dreams". I thought to myself, stand tall. Then I saw your post. So on the money! I love your approach and the way you express. You're right, making in a time of stress is so important! Thanks for sharing. Ps. Slow it down and the Lumineers are amazing!

  9. So pretty. Very inspirational as well. You have given me an idea for a quilt song lyric. It nay not be a wholecloth. but it will be a quilt, lol :)

  10. What a great lyric to turn into a mini quilt. It looks like a happy sunrise or sunset and all the quilting and Aurifil colors add a lot of close up detail that draw me in. :)

  11. What a great saying. I've been thinking about making a quilt using a line from a Girl Guide song: My honour is to try, and my duty is to love.

  12. I made a quilt about my depression using improv letters and song lyrics. I have several others planned but also a more cheerful one to reflect my current mood. You can see it here

  13. My mother and I made a king-size whole quilt for my sister and brother-in-law in 1971. It had no words on it, but it was purple! And we hand quilted roses on it ourselves. We made a quilting frame out of 2x4s and clamps, and propped it on sawhorses. We would work on it outside until it got smaller (rolled up) and then we finished it inside my house. That was the first quilt that I ever did the quilting on.

    If I made a whole cloth quilt with song lyrics on it, I think it would be, "At last, my love has come along" by Etta James. I love her voice and the way she sings it touches me so much that I almost cry when I hear it.

    xo Linda


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