My Meadow Quilt

When I was in the US last year I saw a quilt class being offered in Melbourne in October and had to sign up.  It was to learn how to make the Meadow Quilt, a pattern by fabric designer Lizzy House.  The catch with the pattern is she doesn't publish it; the only way to make the quilt is to take the class. So I signed up.

I've been sewing for 20 years and have never actually taken a quilting class before.  I knew I wanted to use fabrics that were a little different than the meadow quilts I had seen, but I also didn't want to go broke buying $24/meter fabrics in Australia when I knew I get the same thing for $10 in the US.  It was right before my mom and I went to Bali, so I decided to keep an eye out for fabric there that would work.  On the days we went batik shopping in Denpasar I found bundles of the perfect fabrics for $2/yard.  I bought way more than I needed just to make sure I had enough.  With all of the batik factories we went to on that trip the fabric ended up being a really good souvenir of our experiences.
Fabric shopping in Denpasar
Getting my batiks ready for the class
I made a test block during the class using scraps I had around.  I'm not a big fan of sewing curves, so it was a new experience in how to make it work.  It was a fun class, seeing what everyone else was using and how different each colour combination looked.  During the class Lizzy helped us each group our colors together and then we put together a map so we could keep track of what went where.
Lizzy House telling us about her Meadow Quilt
At this point I have to say that I've never been a big fan of batiks.  I don't typically like flowery fabrics and in my mind that's what batiks were.  But after seeing the incredibly labor intensive process of making them, I've come to appreciate batiks a lot more - yes even the flowery ones.  But I also love the basic, simpler ones too.  Seeing how the colours played together on the map in class really helped me like them even more, and I thought about adding an extra row so I could include more fabrics.
Mapping out my fabric
I started by making all of my petals (the black parts) and eyes (red parts).  It involves using a lot of freezer paper, which fortunately I had brought a 50 yard roll over with me when we moved from the states because that also is crazy expensive here.  I'm not even sure why I had freezer paper - might have been for baking something - but it sure came in handy.  With the curved parts ready to go I cut out the batik pieces and sewed together those curved seems I was dreading.  Turns out they aren't so bad, and the fabric could be coaxed to stretch around the curve.  
The petals and eye
Finally all my blocks were down and it was time to put them together.  The outer brownish batik was also from the $2/yard Bali pile and I bought all that they had - 5 yards.  That was the point that I realised I wouldn't have enough of that fabric to make a larger bed sized quilt so decided to stick with the original plan.  Plus to be honest I didn't want it covered in animal hair all the time!
Finished quilt top
Now the top was done, but with all of the curved seems it was a bit wavy and I didn't think I had the patience to quilt it myself.  I found a wonderful lady just down the road from my work who does custom quilting, and gave her the challenge of figuring out how to quilt it for me.  At first we talked about keeping the quilting simple and nothing to flowery, but then I realised it was meant to be a moment from the Bali trip and just embraced the prints.  I sent her a picture of a gold offering tray I got on the trip with these beautiful scrolls along the side, and from there she started researching Bali art and found some beautiful wood carving designs that translated well into quilting.  Once we came to an agreement on the Bali art theme, I gave her free range to do what worked.  And she sure did!
My offering tray - with scraps for the fabric gods
The quilting was the perfect final touch to this great souvenir.  It really complemented the patterns well and tied it all together.  It was much more of a learning experience than I had originally thought it would be.  If I had done it all over knowing it would not have the extra row I probably would have changed out some of the colours. The layout was the exact one Lizzy House picked out, and not that they were bad but I should have put my twist on it also.  For example, I probably would have left out the lighter yellow and peach section and used something stronger.  But even knowing that, I can look at that section and know that I've learned that sometimes, despite what others say, I need to trust my own instinct and taste.  I also learned that flowers aren't so bad, and even the fabrics on the quilt that I used to think were ugly I can appreciate for how many different steps it took to get to the end result.  And the quilting - it's nice to know that I've learned that I can pay someone else to do it when it's not going to be any fun for me to do.  All in all, I love how it turned out, the boldness of the colours and prints plus the meaning and great memories that it represents from our trip.  Now I just have to find an empty wall big enough to hang it up...
Close up of the amazing quilting
This quilt is so big it's hard to take pictures of
Some of the quilting on the borders
Close up of some orange peel quilting 
Color explosion
My quilt inspectors approved!


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