When we were in the upper peninsula of Michigan recently, our cabin was across from St. Helena Island, which is a nature preserve with a lighthouse on it that has been renovated in recent years by a Boy Scout troop and other supportive volunteers. We did not go to the island (it requires special arrangements), but we could see the lighthouse in the distance on a bright day, and its winking light at night.
Here's how it looked in a picture hanging in our cabin
and in silhouette on the end of the island in a grainy blow-up from my cell phone
The lighthouse is of the same design as another lighthouse that we visited last fall: East Tawas Point. (For anyone who cares, in my post a few weeks ago, I mistakenly said that 40-Mile Point Lighthouse is also of that design. It's actually Sturgeon Point Lighthouse.) Anyway, while we were on vacation I bought a foundation paper-pieced pattern of the East Tawas Point Lighthouse (published by Presque Isle Needleworks) as well as a scrap of sky print fabric because it was so like the skies we had on our vacation. I decided to make it in the colors of St Helena to commemorate our vacation.
While I was between major quilting projects (waiting for a fabric order to arrive), I had thought of making a little strip quilt, but on impulse, I pulled out the lighthouse pattern. I think I knew that if I didn't make it now, it would end up in a drawer somewhere. And just like that, it was done!
I love making quilts of structures. I usually make my own patterns and I use abstract print fabrics rather than "literal" prints, so this was a bit of a departure for me. But it was fun. Of course, I had to go and mess with the pattern a bit to make it mine. I added window frames and shutters to the windows on the house, and I reworked the top of the lighthouse to make it a daytime rather than nighttime view. I also added just a bit more detail to the embroidery that was suggested on the pattern. I studied lots of pictures of the St. Helena lighthouse online to make changes to the colors. I have no idea exactly how the lighthouse looks currently, but this quilt depicts it fairly closely, I think, in its original colors. There is vegetation that hides much of the tower today from this angle, but I left all of that out.
I had been planning to do FMQ quilting, but in the end, I quilted the whole quilt with my walking foot. Here's a picture in lower light so you can see the details.
It so happens that when I did my last project with a walking foot, I lightened the pressure of the presser foot a lot so that the machine wouldn't drag and distort the quilt. The pressure is now so light that it just barely holds onto the fabric, but this made it possible for me to quilt pretty tight curves around the clouds on the lighthouse quilt. I was really pleased about this. I think I'll call this style Free Motion Walking Foot quilting. (If no one else has coined that--ha!) The rest of the quilting is sort of a folksy style to suggest brick work/siding, and cedar shakes. I had to restrain myself from getting too detailed.
Here's how the quilt looks from the back (sort of a wet sand look to the fabric)
and enhanced in low light. You can also see how I attached the hanger bits.
|My tension wasn't always that great, but no matter. It's a wall hanging.|
|The flower material is left over from a quilt I made a long time ago for my daughter's bedroom (now our guest room).|
When it was time to bind the quilt, I chose a piece that reminds me of the state stone of Michigan--the Petoskey Stone, a fossilized coral found along the shores of northwestern Lake Michigan. (There weren't any of these where we were, but still--a Michigan connection.)
Here's what the stone looks like dry:
Here's the binding:
I also used that same fabric wrong side up for the foundation of the lighthouse.
As an added touch, I sewed a button from the button collection I purchased five years ago from ceramic artist Sandra Lance. I thought it balanced the other reds in the picture. These kinds of buttons have become a sort of signature for me in my pictorial quilts.
So that's my little project. Because of some of the realistic prints, it's a little "cuter" than my usual pictorial quilts. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but it's a fun reminder of our vacation. I have it hanging on a hook near the inside of our front door for the time being. I'm thinking that someday I'll make another version with the colors of the East Tawas lighthouse--maybe in solids.
The whole quilt is 12 1/2 inches square--actually bigger than I anticipated. (I thought at first that the dimensions on the packet included the border). The sky fabric is Landscape Medley Cloudy Sky in light blue from Elizabeth's Studio. The rest are scraps. The quilting threads are whatever thread (quilting or otherwise) I had on-hand that matched the fabrics. The batting is a scrap of Quilter's Dream Select.
The best thing I learned while making this quilt is that I can do Free Motion quilting with my Walking Foot--within reason, of course!
I'm linking up this week with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social and with Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop. Oh, and this is a DrEAMi, isn't it? So with Sandra at mmm!quilts at the end of next week.
Okay, now back to my regular quilting. I just finished a top! Now to plan the back.
I hope you are having a good quilting week working on projects big or small, planned or unplanned.