At Last

A quilt I have been working on — off and on — for years is now finished. I felt like throwing a party. It has been a bit of trial, this quilt, and I did find myself thinking “never again” as I stitched towards the finishing line. I could not even find a title for it and began thinking of it as Nameless Tree. In desperation I asked the the woodworker for suggestions and he came up with Autumn Shade.

To celebrate I scrabbled through my fabrics, pulled out a set of Kaffe Fassett “dotties” and started sewing houses. Here’s a snap of the work in progress.

Instead of a celebratory tipple, the beginning of a set of houses for a new village

When I was a new quilter and doing a workshop with Sally Scott (, I remember her saying that surprising things can happen if one pushes through, past the difficulties or blocks (as in writer’s block!), when piecing a quilt. Autumn Shade was so long in the making that there were a few twists and turns along the way.

It started with an idea. I had signed up for a quick scrap quilt class with Doortjie Gersbach, called Mile-a-Minute. It was to make skewed log cabins to use up scrap strips. Her example was a nice bright quilt of many colours and broad strips. I decided I wanted to make a background for a tree and so would use my blue scraps in thinner strips to create a dense background. It was a bad idea because I soon ran out of blue scraps and, when it came to hand quilting the background, the many seams behind the thin strips were hard on the fingers.

I had bought a pack of Bali fabrics in beautiful blues and greens to supplement my blue scraps. While the effect was lovely, the close-weave of the Bali fabrics also made the hand quilting difficult. But, the kit of Bali fabrics had two pieces of brown shades, and the one was perfect for the tree (I had initially intended to make the tree from one of Kaffe Fassett’s striking fabrics in pinks and maroons). I cut the fabric into broad strips and used raw applique to make the tree. Then I close-quilted it with perle thread and some strands of gold. It was hard work to stitch through the dense Bali fabric and the closely-pieced blocks beneath the appliqued tree. It didn’t help that the backing of the quilt was also pieced from the scraps. (I wrote about this in a previous post

A close-up of the tree-effect of the brown and gold Bali fabric, and to show the dense piecing of the background blues

It’s hard to know when to persevere and when to give up, because there are times when a piece just does not come together. In this case I am glad that I gritted my teeth and stitched on. The second piece of brown fabric in the pack of Bali’s was used for the binding. In both cases there was just enough of the brown fabrics to do the job. I hope you are still reading, because here is a photograph of the tree. It measures 118 by 82 cm. Thank heavens it wasn’t bigger, otherwise it may never have been finished.

Autumn Shade

This post is a day early because I am retreating to the Karroo for a long weekend of Zen skies and silence.

13 thoughts on “At Last

  1. To persevere or not persevere…I am so glad you did. The Autumn Shade quilt is breathtakingly beautiful! It is definitely time to celebrate this piece of art. Thank you for sharing your process. Reading your blog provides a valuable learning experience.
    I am looking forward to seeing your Kaffe Fassett dotties. You were the one who helped me stick with my Village quilt. I had been working on it since July. I put it away periodically and thought it would never be finished. I finally finished piecing last week, and it is with my quilter now.


    1. Thank you for your warm and generous comments. You have made my day!
      I plan to crack a bottle of champagne when my quilting group meets next week.
      Love your village quilt. Please post another pic when you get it back from the quilter.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The vibrancy of the blue against the autumnal glowing browns/golds of the stark tree reflects the Fall season of stained glass brilliancy in nature.
    I’m certain you came away from this long quilt project journey filled with wisdom and insights into your own personal realm of the craft.
    Enjoy the champagne.
    Enjoy your time away!


  3. I like those houses! They were a great way to celebrate a spectacular completion to the tree piece Autumn Shade. Your persistence paid off – all I can say is wow and I am so inspired by your works!


  4. I am equally in awe of your photographs, Carol.
    This quilt is designed to hang (it’s too small to use as a cover). I have been living with it on my pinboard since it was completed, but will sell it if opportunity knocks.
    My talisman quilt is the one called “A Full Bed of Roses”, the photograph of which I have used as the banner on my blog. It hangs above our bed and I will not sell this one.


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