Thursday, February 5, 2015

Olivia's Burgoyne Surrounded (long overdue)

Subtitle:  my Sarah Fielke obsession continues, unabated.

I have previously documented my quiltcrush on Sarah Fielke, but we can officially add another quilt to the evidence pile.

The quilt below was my primary project for the better part of 6 months last year.  It is possibly my favorite project ever, and was a present for my niece Olivia, for her bat mitzvah this past November.

I mean, come on, how cute is she?

The quilt is pretty faithfully based on the quilt gracing the cover of Sarah Fielke and Kathy Doughty's Material Obsession 2.   The book contains historically inspired quilts, reinterpreted by Kathy and Sarah.

image from Sarah's website

Do I look relieved to be done?  I was!

While planning this project, I found out that the main block is actually called a "Burgoyne Surrounded" block, which was a popular pattern with American quilters just after the Revolutionary War.

via the MSU archives (which are amazing!)

The block was traditionally worked with blue squares encircling a red center, symbolizing (blue) American troops surrounding (red) British general John Burgoyne, who surrendered to American forces on October 17,1777.

I did most of the piecing of the 12 blocks in March 2014 at our annual Boston Modern Quilt Guild retreat in Kennebunk, Maine.

The grey fabric was bought last minute, in a pre-retreat panic.  I couldn't find any quilting cotton that was the medium-dark tone I wanted, so I ended up going with a striped garment linen.

I love the way the linen's striping adds interest to the top, but piecing it was a bit tricky, due to the stretch.  Lots of little pieces.  Stretchy little pieces in lots of numbered piles.  With liquor on the side.

awful gymnasium lighting, but you get the idea.

Once the 12 blocks were sashed, the borders went on, and then I used freezer paper and a ton of Best Press to make the dots.  

I figured out dot placement, then positioned dots a handful at a time with spray baste, prior to appliqué.   There are about 60 dots but this still went rather quickly.  

I took it in for BMQG show-and-tell at this point:

Normally I only show-and-tell finished quilts, but I'd been working on this so long that I hadn't shown anything in months!   Didn't want folks to think I'd stopped quilting!

Sarah's pattern calls for tree shapes on the border, but I went another direction and did an appliquéd vine - a choice that added months of effort.  The vine was hand appliquéd, and due to the curvy-ness and the fact that I had to stitch down both sides, this was essentially the equivalent effort of binding the quilt 4 times.

I included shirt fabric from my Dad, Olivia's grandpa, in the leaves.  The  black and white striped fabric below was from one of his shirts.

The body of the quilt was free motioned with a freehand Baptist fan concept.  I did more of a leafy/vineyard pattern on the border.

For the binding and backing, I went with purple prints.   Olivia loves purple!  I wish I had a brighter image of the print on the back, but it's a Tina Givens floral I picked up at the awesome Marden's store in Sanford, Maine.

My niece LOVED the quilt, and had the exact reaction we all long for when we give one away.

I thought, midway through, that I may have been overly ambitious picking such a complicated project.   But I loved it so much when it was done that I'm convinced there are more Fielke projects in my future.   The woman is a genius!