If you have a membership to The Quilt Show or belong to its forum, etc. then you know they host Block of the Month clubs. A couple of years ago Janet Stone created a quilt called ABC for Ewe and Me, and it became the Block of the Month quilt for that year. My friend, (I’ll call her “El” for short), made that quilt, and it is adorable!
Janet Stone recently won Best of Show at the International Quilt Festival in Houston for 2015. That’s competing with quilters from around the world. If you don’t know about IQF (International Quilt Festival) it is the mega show and best of the very best. Janet has also won tons of other awards for her quilts – her work is meticulous. So, when El brought this quilt to me, I could see that she followed in Janet’s footsteps with her piecing and applique. It is marvelous! My skills are nothing like that, which is why I stick to the quilting part.
What El wanted as far as quilting, though, was for it to be just like Janet’s quilting on her quilt. In other words, to quilt it like Janet quilted hers. …What? You want me to quilt like Janet Stone? The winner of Best of Show for International Quilt Festival 2015? <bug eyes> Oh… Okay… No pressure. No pressure at all. I think people give me a whole lot more credit than I deserve, really! I may be an award winning quilter, but I’m no Janet Stone. But, I will try whatever I can to make my customers happy, and try I did. I looked at it as a challenge and an opportunity to learn something from it, to learn how winners quilt.
Janet used a lot of colors in her quilt, so that meant I used a lot of colors of thread to match the patches in the quilt – lots of thread changes. I also used MonoPoly in the bobbin (very interesting learning curve with that…) and gold metallic in some blocks. Additionally, there were 15 other colors of thread used in the quilt. I could have used more colors of thread, but I tried to use something close that was already in there.
So, here goes with not too many detail shots… If you’ve already seen Janet Stone’s quilt like this, you’ll be disappointed with my talent. I almost feel like I ruined this for El. I want to show you this one first, because I want to talk about the sashing. I think the sashing was about an inch wide. Those “S” shaped swirls are not the fabric. They are stitching with variegated thread. I have no idea how Janet got hers so perfect – they are TINY!
I’m throwing this one in here because I want you to be able to see a bit of the border (bigger swirls in the quilting) and also the cross-hatching. If you do cross-hatching on your longarm, you know how pesky this can be. Your hopping foot and needle are hovering over the quilt, so you have to use a longarm ruler to keep it straight and hope that it doesn’t kick off the path.
After I was done with all the blocks, I stippled (tiny meander) in the blue border and added the letters and dots that Janet sprinkled around hers. I’m not sure if you can find the “m” and “n” quilted into this upper right corner. The “m” is at about 8:00 below the star and the “n” is just to the left of the middle and lower blue teardrops.
I had been working up and down this quilt, rolling it back and forth to get different areas done. Stitch in the Ditch, outer border and sashing first to stabilize the quilt and then go back and add details. What is so strange is that I thought the A block, the C block, and the D block were the hardest to do. I can do feathers fine. I can do swirls okay (but not perfect – I have the hardest time stitching directly back over the top of the previous stitching). I can do meander fine. And, I can draw objects with thread. But, these designs had me stumped. I couldn’t get them right no matter how many times I stitched them, ripped them out, and re-stitched them again and again. We all have our own style of quilting/art/work, etc. This is just one of those “Janet” trademarks I think. And, I will tell you Janet is capable of stitching teeny tiny little designs right back over the top of previous stitching and with perfection. She is very precise with her work; that is why she is an award-winning quilter.
And, one last (sort of) detailed picture for the road… the details are blurred in the others (and I’m glad… lol).
I learned a lot with this quilt. I learned some new designs. I think I learned a secret about Janet, but mum’s the word. I learned that you really can sew and quilt with MonoPoly thread in the bobbin (pull some off each time you put a fresh bobbin on to get rid of dangling slippery thread, then pull a bunch through to the top of the quilt sandwich before you start that section and hold it taut so it doesn’t get a chance to slip around inside and outside the bobbin, and then cut it off after you’ve begun stitching). I’ve gotten really good at quilting with metallic thread. And, of course, one of the biggest lessons was me having a new kind of respect for the work Janet Stone does. I don’t believe my quilting skills will ever get to her level, but I know I will get better as time goes on. After 84 hours of work on it (and lots of learning along the way), I only hope I didn’t ruin this quilt for El.