I am still in awe that this happened: late in February, just as I was in full-tilt panic mode with deadlines, I got an IG message from Jennifer Sampou. She wanted ME to quilt something for her. Say whaaaat? Back story first: Jennifer pulled off a herculean move and timed the release of her new fabric line, Sky, with the release of her new book, Ombre Quilts. I can’t even imagine what that was like. Some unexpected complications occurred along the way and she needed a quilt quilted ASAP, on a domestic machine. As she tells the story, she kept on asking around and everyone kept on saying “Jenny Lyon”. Wow.
This was a bit of a fire drill. We had two weeks. Two weeks! Let’s review here:
-I’m in the midst of other deadlines, in the middle of a busy teaching season.
-I have never done any major quilting for others. I always said I would not.
-I had not collaborated with the process, so I didn’t have a clear vision of the project.
-I was afraid!
But there was no way I was going to say “no” to this challenge. I bucked up and jumped in! Jennifer was a dream to work with. The top she designed and made is called ” Whale and I”. It is stunning in person, such good design. I really didn’t have a place to land on this project, so I asked her to give me a bit of an idea of what she envisioned for the quilting. She was clear that this was not about showy quilting. I wanted to be sure I caught her vision, so I requested a drawing. She sent this quick 10-min sketch:
Ah, now I see! I got to know Jennifer a bit throughout this process and she was delightful. She has 3 young boys and a hubbie, yet she has created more than 4,000 prints in her 30 year career. As we wrote back and forth, in the midst of multiple deadlines, there was baseball with the boys. I don’t even know how she does that.
The above sketch was a start, but that scale was not something I could see on a domestic machine. I played around with some sketches of what I thought would work:
After a few notes back and forth, I came up with this bare-bones sketch, which Jennifer liked:
I had something to work with now, but there were many decisions to be made. I was shocked to find out that when designing fabric, you don’t get yardage of the actual fabric until very late in the process. I had no fabric to play and audition upon, just the real top. That was scary! So I had to fake it with fabric that I had on-hand. There really was not time to shop for similar fabric. Besides, Jennifer did not want this top to go out in public which was very understandable.
I played with color, line, and design on fabric that closely approximated Jennifer’s fabric, and we agreed on the plan.
I’m glad I took the time to play with batting. My go-to batting is wool. Once I quilted up these sandwiches, it was clear that wool would ruin the modern aesthetic of this piece. I went with 80/20 because of its flat, thin and drapeable nature.
I played with anemones, which Jennifer nixed, as she felt them too showy.
Once the ferny guys were in, some fish were needed. Jennifer wanted these to be simple fish. I was so thankful to have a robust thread stash! Jennifer was initially opposed to any metallic, but when she saw this Superior Glitter, she was smitten. Not all metallics shout! The photo does not show it well, but it gives a subtle and intriguing glimmer to the quilt and I love the effect!
It was fun to see the quilt emerge. The ferny guys are in, now to get some coral-ish action:
It was scary at first to lay in the flaming neon orange, but I knew it needed to flame when quilted with such an intricate line. It would have died with a more reasonable color.
Simple quilting was all the whale needed. I love the way he turned out!
BTW, I normally Misty Fuse baste my quilts, but I thought I might be using a blue wash-out marker, so I had to pin baste. Now I needed to finish the top of the water section:
I think you can see the glistening fish, no?
It definitely needed a path of bubbles coming from the whale. There were a lot of threads to bury.
I love the way the bubbles turned out too! By now I’m feeling ever-so-slightly confident.
Time to add some rays. I was really nervous about this part. Marking was a multi-cultural event and required both low-fat refried black beans and straw mushrooms to anchor the entire affair.
I chickened out on using a blue wash-out marker; I did not want to take any chances! I marked the lines with a hera marker which worked perfectly.
I added a few bubbles in those unquilted areas before shipping back to Jennifer. I really thought I took a photo of the final piece before I sent it…
Jennifer pieced the back of the quilt – even the back is charming.
This is Jennifer’s photo of “The Whale and I” lifted from her IG feed (with permission). She bound the quilt so I haven’t seen the quilt completed. It is hanging right now at Quilt Market!
Another shot from Jennifer’s IG feed.
This fabric line is gorgeous! Jennifer describes her inspiration:
“a celebration of all the glorious skies we witness overhead, 30 pieces to commemorate my 30 years of being a professional textile designer, and they are digitally printed which gives us limitless color options and a more green/sustainable approach to printed fabric which makes me very happy“.
OMG! I don’t usually get that excited about new fabric because I work in whole cloth and rarely use commercial prints. But this fabric is gorgeous and unique.
Those saturated colors excite me!
I don’t know if this will be a project in the book, but isn’t this fabulous? Sometimes something unexpected and challenging comes along and you just have to say “yes”! Onward.
I’ll be linking up with Nina-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.