New Orleans House Project

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Orleans Sunflowers

I have always had a fondness for sunflowers.  Their cheerful yellow blooms seem to be sunshine, personified.  After the devastating floods following Hurricane Katrina, sunflowers bloomed in the most unlikely places all over New Orleans, symbolizing the rebirth and resilience of my city.  I started envisioning sunflower quilts.

I discovered Anita Shackelford's Arizona Sunflowers quilt a year or so after the flood.  Somehow a forlorn copy of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting got left behind on the magazine rack at my local grocery, even though the magazine was months out of date!  The Arizona Sunflower quilt graced the cover of the magazine, and I snatched up that lone copy just for the sunflower pattern.
Arizona Sunflowers from Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting, Sept/Oct 2006
As usual, it took me several years to get started on the quilt.  I decided to change the colors just a bit, aiming for muted blues in place of the brown baskets and border.  I also wanted to challenge myself to doing needle-turn applique for the sunflowers, leaves and stems (the pattern is written for machine applique).  I had never done much hand applique, so I turned to my favorite tutor - Google - and experimented with applique methods until I found the technique I liked best.  I began appliqueing the sunflowers late last fall and finished piecing and assembling the quilt last month.
New Orleans Sunflowers!
I'll be the first to say I made several mistakes with the applique process.  For example, the instructions led me to applique all the sunflowers, but there was no mention of leaving some un-stitched areas in which to insert the ends of the stems.  When it came time to applique the vines, I had no desire to snip any of my hand applique stitches, so I just tucked the cut ends of the stems inside themselves and appliqued everything down as best I could.  The baskets were also kind of a bear to piece.  I wound up hand-piecing the base of each basket and even then some of my corners got cut off!
My original thought was that I would also hand-quilt my sunflowers.  Now I'm feeling less inclined to do so.  I'm rather reluctant to quilt through all those triangles in the basket blocks - I really dislike stab-stitching through all those layers.  I think I will be asking one of my favorite machine quilters to collaborate with me on the quilting!
I'm sorry I couldn't get the blue baskets and border to show up better!  Here's one of the sunflowers next to the backing fabric.  I just need to finish trimming the fabric layers under the applique and get the backing pieced.  I'm so ready to have this hanging on the wall and making me smile every day!

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful quilt---and if that is your first needle-turn applique, well girl, you did an excellent job! :) Happy Thanksgiving!