Sunday, 17 May 2015

Ichthyosaur!

The quilt that I'm sharing for this spring's Bloggers' Quilt Festival is the mini quilt that I made for the UK mini quilt swap that was organised through Instagram this spring. I'm entering my quilt "Jurassic Aquarium" in the Appliqué category.

"Jurassic Aquarium"

My swap partner was Nick at Quilts from the Attic who makes fantastically original modern quilts. I wanted to make something that he would love, and that also reflected me. Tough ask! I read and reread the likes and dislikes he had noted on his sign up form, stalked him on Instagram, and wracked my brains trying to decide what to make. At the bottom of his sign up sheet, Nick had mentioned that he was a bit of a dinosaur fan and as I read that statement for the umpteenth time, I recalled something that I had written on my own sign up form - that I'm always looking for time to design quilts inspired by my day-job as a palaeontologist.

I chose to design a quilt based on an ichthyosaur rather than a dinosaur since my first interaction with Nick were some comments on a picture of some ichthyosaur fabric on Instagram. I tried to make the design a little cartoony and relatively simple while still being recognisable as an ichthyosaur.

design tools - pencil, Sharpie and my chosen fabrics

Nick had mentioned his love of Alison Glass fabrics, so this Bike Path print in grey and black seemed the perfect background choice to represent the shale rocks that most ichthyosaurs are found in. He'd also mentioned teal and mustard as favourite colours so that dictated the other fabrics I went for. I chose Oakshott shot cottons which I cut in different orientations to give subtle variation in colour.




I used hand stitched needle turn appliqué using very fine silk thread to construct the ichthyosaur. It was quite time consuming, but it seemed like the best way to get the appliqué shapes to stand a little proud of the background. In my view, fused appliqué never has quite the same "body".

pinning all the paddle bones in place before hand stitching

After completing the appliqué, I used free motion machine quilting to outline all the ichthyosaur bones in black thread and add a little detail to the eye. In the background I added free motion wavy lines, bubbles and the occasional (not morphologically accurate!) ammonite.

quilting - outlines around all the bones, plus some ammonites and wavy lines in the background

I am delighted with how this mini quilt turned out. Mr Q thinks it's the best thing I've ever made, and is petitioning me to make a replica. I think I probably will, but will wait until the skin on my needle-pushing finger has recovered!

Forcing myself to slow down and make this quilt by hand really helped me find some inner peace whilst we dealt with my beautiful little cat Coco's final struggle against Feline Infectious Peritonitis. I think she enjoyed being able to sit in my lap as I sewed, and concentrating on each stitch helped me to stay calm and strong for her.

Coco vanquishing the ichthyosaur.

20 comments:

Renee said...

This guy is awesome! Great color and fabric choices, and I love the quilting you added.

einfach bunt said...

This is so cool!!!

Hilacha (loose strand) said...

interesting creature...and the yellow ochre colour makes a beautiful contrast against the dark background.

Wendy @ Wendysquiltsandmore said...

This is fantastic!! I love your idea, and especially how you've quilted the background. I really thought Quilts from the Attic lived in USA, but I now see he's from Wales. (I've never been to UK, but anyone from Wales makes me think of Gavin and Stacy and Stella - and that makes me smile). Your quilt is great - it was a clever idea to combine your work and your hobby. the yellow bones look so good against that dark background. Good luck in the festival.

Wendy @ Wendysquiltsandmore said...

Oh! I meant to say thank you for commenting on my festival entry too. I can't reply by email because you're a No Reply Blogger.

Kamila @ Work-With-Patches said...

What a great idea for a beautiful quilt! I love your design (my Husband would be delighted this dino), and GREAT quilting!!! :)
Greetings from Poland
Kamila

Jane McLellan said...

Really interesting quilt!

Jenn said...

This is fantastic!

Sylvia said...

This quilt is so great. I love it when people combine science and quilting!

Kat said...

Your quilt is so cool! I love your concept and I really like the little shells you quilted in the background. Your cat is cute, I'm glad you got to spend special time with her.

Shannon said...

This quilt is phenomenal! I love it- you really captured the icthyosaur but plus modern aesthetic. I love dinosaur quilts (I did a coelophysis a couple years back) so this jumped right off the page!

Vicki said...

What a great quilt. Thanks for explaining your process, too. :)

Sarah said...

What a cool and thoughtful quilt! I love it!

Brianna said...

This looks great and I love the colours, it really pops!

Kirsty@Bonjour said...

I'm sure she's beautiful but Coco looks possessed in that photo. I'd be hiding my jugular if I were you!
I love your quilt, it is so fantastic. I don't blame your hubby for wanting a replica (very fitting given the whole replica skeletons in museums, really). This is such a fabulously original idea and I wish you all the best in the Festival (you've got one of my votes).

Camilla said...

Love this! What a perfect application for appliqué! Definitely gets my vote!

Sandra @SewofCourse said...

This is so great! And it must have been so much work with all those little pieces. I do agree, needle turn appliqué is worth it for the effect and the calmness of hand stitching. Good luck in the festival!

the zen quilter said...

This is fabulous, I love the idea and the execution - the colors, etc. Great job. And I have a black kitten just like yours that likes to sit on my work, too!

Anita said...

Well this is completely awesome! I love it! Nick must have been thrilled. Well done!

Helen Ryan said...

That's fantastic, I mustn't let my son see it or he'll expect one of his own and I'm definitely not skilled enough!!

I'm so sorry to hear about Coco, it is very hard to say goodbye to cats even when you know it's time. And black cats are the best ones (I have one too), which I should think makes it even harder. Sending you lots of sympathy.