18 February 2017

The Poetry of Manners and Motion

I have three quilts in shows next week, and I hope to post about each of them. Today I'm writing about "The Poetry of Manners and Motion." The quilt will be hanging at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton, Virginia 23 Feb 2017 - 26 Feb 2017.
It is the only quilt I have remade. The first iteration I designed and sewed in 2011. I wrote about it here. I sold that quilt the same year, and immediately missed it. Five years later I decided to give it another go, enlarged and with new piecing and quilting challenges.
I lifted the title of the piece from the writings of John Muir, observing a blacktailed deer in Yosemite.
A fine specimen of the blacktailed deer went bounding past camp this morning. A buck with wide spread of antlers, showing admirable vigor and grace. Wonderful the beauty, strength, and graceful movements of animals in wildernesses, cared for by Nature only, when our experience with domestic animals would lead us to fear that all the so-called neglected wild beasts would degenerate. Yet the upshot of Nature's method of breeding and teaching seems to lead to excellence of every sort. Deer, like all wild animals, are as clean as plants. The beauties of their gestures and attitudes, alert or in repose, surprise yet more than their bounding exuberant strength. Every movement and posture is graceful, the very poetry of manners and motion. Mother Nature is too often spoken of as in reality no mother at all. Yet how wisely, sternly, tenderly she loves and looks after her children in all sorts of weather and wildernesses. The more I see of deer the more I admire them as mountaineers. They make their way into the heart of the roughest solitudes with smooth reserve of strength, through dense belts of brush and forest encumbered with fallen trees and boulder piles, across cañons, roaring streams, and snow-fields, ever showing forth beauty and courage. 
- John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra
I began this quilt as I did the first one: constructing the green reverse applique from cotton prints using a disappearing nine-patch pattern. Many of the prints were the same as the first iteration, many were different, but I stuck with the same range of greens. Caroline at Trillium Design generously sent me a fat quarter of the Joel Dewberry hummingbird print, which absolutely needed to reprise its role.
Next I set about the background. I employed Sherri Lynn Wood's wedge curve technique for the background of this and one other wildlife applique quilt. I started with curve segments from a series of wedges, maybe a dozen at a time. My original idea was a random series of waves and curves that would give a landform effect (much like the bear quilt, which you can find on my instagram until I blog about it).
The first bit I constructed was this keyhole shape (here stuck up on the design wall on top of the backing of the bear quilt) and my imagination latched onto how multiple keyholes would fit together.
So I made four similar bits, trying to keep them a similar size, using trimmed scraps from the two quilts for the keyhole centers. With one of the four pieces sliced in half I almost had a rectangle.
I filled in the voids with a combination of wedges and scraps.
And then the reverse applique, trimming the back, and cutting the front (the most nerve-racking step).
I love an elaborately pieced quilt back, so there I went. I started with forming the scraps of the trimmed stag into five circles, then surrounded a couple of them with leftover wedge curves.
I finished the composition with ALL THE SCRAPS and bits of yardage.
Quilting on my domestic machine...
And binding in green.
I love the quilting front and back. The quilting at the bottom is inspired by grass and wildflowers. There are a few more motifs in irregular bands moving toward the top, where I finish with a windy pattern.
The finished quilt is 84"W x 78"H
If you get a chance to see the show, I would love it if you could send me a photo of the hanging quilt. If you post to Instagram tag me @dsrouse.


  1. I'm sure I told you this before, but I found you via the original Green Stag quilt listing on Etsy. I had started quiltmaking the year or two before and was thinking about selling only to be discouraged by people significantly undervaluing their work. My next move was to filter the Etsy search by price, set high to low and there Green Stag was at a price I could more than respect. Your description intrigued me and I've enjoyed following your journey since then. Thank you for all the inspiration.

  2. That is a WOW- just wonderful- and so inspiring to those of us who are bored with patterns and timid about breaking out.

  3. Beautiful both front and back. Glad you see you posting