Friday, April 5, 2013

Sierra Blanca

While away at quilt camp I designed and assembled this quilt top featuring my home mountain Sierra Blanca. Fun fact for all those who imagine that the mountainy parts of New Mexico are all in the north or that southern New Mexico is all desert, or just never really thought much about New Mexico at all, Sierra Blanca Peak is 11,981 feet above sea level and the lovely surrounding towns are between 6,000-8,000 feet.  Makes for beautiful weather with fabulous hiking in the summer, skiing in the winter, and clear blue skies all year round.   Just don't go there right now- this time of year the wind blows 90 miles an hour kicking up super fun dust and allergens (just about like it does here in Oklahoma City).

Anyway, back to the quilt.  Usually I filler my quilts to death but at the urging of the instructor Gloria I decided to keep the quilting simple this time.  She suggested that by varying the thread/quilting weight, the spacing of quilting lines, and the thread color, one could use the quilting to enhance/preserve perspective in the landscape.  I attempted that here, and I think it worked fairly well.  It was really hard to resist going back and filling in, but I did.

On a side note, the quilting quality isn't great (in terms of stitch length, jerkiness etc.).  It had been about a month since I quilted anything and I'm amazed at how quickly my proficiency drops off without regular practice.  I especially noticed it on this quilt since the quilting was looser (and therefore much harder) than what I usually do.  Once again, I note to myself that I should practice on a sandwich every time I start something new.  Sigh.

Anyway,  things to note:  on the mountains, I started off in the foreground with bright green 40 wt thread and stitched the contours several times with far apart lines (I didn't have any 30 wt or 12 wt in the right colors or I probably would have tried it).  As I moved into the background, I used 40 wt thread with only one pass, 50 wt. thread, and then 100 wt thread.  In addition, I tried to make the lines closer together, and the thread colors less vibrant as the hills moved backwards.  In the sky, I tried to match the thread color to the fabric, using several different shades of blue and increasing the spacing as you go up.

As you see it now, I've finished the quilting and squared up the top, but haven't bound/faced it yet.  This is for three reasons.

1.  I can't decide if I should crop it-  I've contemplated cropping a couple inches off of the right side so that the peak isn't so centered, but I kind of like that right side and I haven't made up my mind yet.

2. I can't decide if it needs something else.  I'm not sure what the else would be, but all I know is that I like this but don't love it, and I'm not sure why.

3.  This quilt, the orchard quilt (in progress below) and the llama quilt (not yet started) were originally supposed to be all one piece with the orchard and llama inset into the mountain.  I decided against that, but as I work on the orchard (and look at the pictures of the llama in the snow), they still feel like they fit together in my brain.  All three have the same color scheme- dark greens and browns with blue skies and bright snow, and they feel thematically linked to my home, going from the close-up llama-from-the-backyard, to the orchard spreading out across the property, to the mountain in the near distance.  I can't decide if they should be somehow linked together into one piece (again, not sure how I'd approach that), or just hang as a grouping.  I may not decide on this until I have all three done, but I don't want to cut off any options.

For those of you who've made it to the end of the wordiness, I'd love your input on the three issues above.  I'm linking up with Nina-Marie's art quilt link party since she and her followers always have great suggestions!


  1. Both are beautiful, you do nice work. I like the mountain like it is. I want to know how you get those white lines in between the pieces. I saw a quilt that resembled a bathroom tile floor from the 50s. I can't figure out how to do it.

  2. Sierra Blanca -- one of my favorite places! I learned to ski there and we love to escape the Texas heat in the summer in that part of New Mexico. Your piece is wonderful. I wouldn't crop it -- it doesn't read "centered" to me.

  3. I wouldn't crop it, the peak is not in the center, it is just where it should be. I agree with the teacher that too much quilting would distort the landscape. Well done!

  4. Please do not crop it, it's perfect the way it is. I can't stop staring at it, so beautiful! Also, I wouldn't link them together, you can still hang them in one group, but leave them as individuals. I can't wait to see them all finished together. <3

  5. you know that I think that the first quilt is done - I wouldn't change a thing - I would face it. Also - I would stop stressing about your quilting - you're doing a great job with the quilt line. There really isn't a quilt police that comes around and give tickets if the quality isn't perfect perfect - although - honestly yours looks great!

  6. Okay - I say 1) don't crop it as I really dig the proportions to it right now. I have two crazy ideas for you: a) you could match the binding to the fabrics in the piece where they touch the binding. I 've seen it done and it adds a beautiful polish. b) frame it out (asymmetrically with less frame on the right side) so it gets 'view from inside a frosted window' look….

    2) It's gorgeous but trust your instincts if you feel it might need something else since you're not "loving" it yet. However, it might do you well to stick it in the closet and let it marinate in your brain for two weeks.

    3) The orchard piece (which is, well, you know how I feel about that one) and the llama piece might make a lovely duo - two separate but companion pieces - that can go with or without the mountain. The mountain is capable of standing on its own. It might free you up a little creativity-wise if you think of them as variations on a theme rather than three pieces of the same.

    Hope that was helpful and not at all annoying. :-)

  7. I know it is so tough to hold back on the fillers....this looks great, I think your quilt lines are just right. No I would not crop either, I agree with the suggestion to bind it so that the binding matches the image, it can be a little tricky to do but usually it is so effective it is worth the effort.

  8. I wouldn't crop either, the mountain peak is not in the center anyway. Someone else mentioned that facing would be an alternative and I agree.

  9. The mountain is perfect the way it is, nice job.

  10. The Sierra Blanca quilt is so beautiful! The colors are so vibrant. I don't think you should trim it at all. I think it looks great as-is. Maybe when you finish the other two you can figure out some way to work them all together. Or maybe if you set the first one aside a for a bit you'll love it when you come back to it. That's happened to me before. :-)

  11. Stunning. I wouldn't change a thing.