I am wallowing in the green relief brought by summer rains. So, that’s the first part of this post. And now to write about a recent quilting adventure.
The theme for the 2021 Brother South Africa quilting contest is Africa Inspired! It is a well-known fact that the natural beauty in this part of the world is spectacular. The inspiration is endless and at first I could not think what to do for my entry in the competition. One of the basic rules for writers is to start with what you know, and perhaps it was this piece of wisdom that prompted the bright idea to start with the fabric (rather than an image). So I focussed on shweshwe, that distinctive African fabric.
To digress a little and to quote from a previous post: “The word shweshwe is pronounced as it is spelt. There is a long story of how this indigo printed European fabric came to be popular and acculturalised in South Africa. When I was a girl we called it German print. Apparently the name shweshwe came to be used because French missionaries in the 1840s gave the cloth to Lesotho’s King Moshoeshoe I as a gift. It was known in Lesotho as shoeshoe, after the King. The word was later modified to shweshwe (www.dagama.co.za).”
There are now a plethora of shweshwe designs in a range of colours. A distinctive feature of contempoary shweshwe cloth is the intricate circular motif in many of the designs. It is easy to imagine these dotted circles as stars. This led to the decision to stitch the African night sky. Anyone who has been to the Karoo will know that the stars there shine brilliantly and brightly. One of South Africa’s greatest writers, Herman Charles Bosman, claimed that the stars are closer in the Groot Marico (the area where he sets his stories). I trust he would agree that this statement is also true of the stars that shine over the Karoo. But I digress again. Here is the quilt I made, using the circular motifs to represent the stars in the African sky.
The motifs were cut from three different shweshwe fabrics and appliquéd onto the reverse side of a square of shweshwe cloth. This happily contains the Three Cats stamp, also in a circular format, which was incorporated into the design. The “stars” were hand stitched onto the background, using gold thread. Sections were hand quilted with the same gold thread and then the piece was machine quilted in curved lines, using my walking foot. A happy discovery was rayon thread in a gold colour. This thread stitched perfectly, with no snapping and snarling (as metallic thread can do) and gave a nice gold shimmer to the work. I snapped the photograph below while stitching the curved lines.
I must give credit to Leah Day, whose website Master Walking Foot Quilting was most helpful and clear. One of her tips is not to make too sharp a bend in the curve when quilting wavy lines. I did not follow this advice and regretted it. It was indeed very difficult to negotiate those sharp curves with my walking foot. (The reason for ignoring the tip was that I wanted the machine quilting to follow the line of the “milky way”.)
And that’s the story behind my Night Sky quilt. It is bound with a striped Kaffe Fassett fabric.
Here is a sneak preview of what is currently under my machine. I am bonding beautifully with my brand new Bernina B435. Thank you again Bernina for drawing my name out of the hat at the end of the Round Robin challenge.