Every once in awhile a fabric can completely catch your attention--stop you in your tracks and DEMAND that you take a longer look. I saw a picture of the Cotton + Steel booth at spring quilt market and found Mustang...and stopped looking at anything else. There was something about that print, especially in the Olive colorway, that evoked so many memories for me.
My dad loved horses. I was raised around them and on them. One of my dad's favorite past times was to go to horse auctions to do some "homework." We only bought one of our horses (a mare named Lady who was in foal with my horse Freckles) at an auction, and that was completely unexpected. We had to borrow a horse trailer to even get her home! The best horse auction we went to was Fort Ranch. The ranch is located out in the no mans land between The Great Salt Lake and I-15. It was a long and beautiful drive to get there. Sagebrush, rocks, golden clay hills, deep blue sky, and the azure shimmer of the lake on the far horizon. Since the ranch was such a distance from "civilization," the owners included a free lunch before the sale began. They served hot dogs, giant vats of baked beans, chips and ice cold pop and watermelon, both chilled in icy watering troughs. I remember hanging over the edge of the fencing, stuffed to the gills with that excellent lunch, and looking at the mares with their foals milling in the paddock.
|Here's Dad, me and Freckles|
I sketched out the design for this quilt in the car on the way to St. Louis. The block is based on a rendering of a block I saw in Maggie Malone's 5,500 Quilt Blocks. I redrafted the pattern on graph paper to yield a massive 18.5 inch block. Part of the block is paper pieced (the star points) and the rest is pieced traditionally with half square triangles and squares. I think the real awesomeness happens when the blocks are pieced together and the secondary patterns emerge.
I decided to use all Cotton + Steel fabric for the construction of the quilt top, and I used fabrics from three of the lines. From Mustang I used Arrows in Navy, Olive Mustang and Olive Star. From the Basics line, I used Pink Cheeks XOXO and Night Owl XOXO. From Moonlit, I used Navy Arrows and Aqua Arrows. I love the way the fabrics work together. I ran my phone's battery completely down choosing fabrics for the quilt and calculating yardage requirements, but by the time our family hit the St. Louis Zoo, I had a quilt design and a burning desire to make this quilt. Right. Now.
I quilted this using a 40 wt. Aurifil thread in leaf green with a straight line pattern. Originally, I started out doing a free motion design with spiky triangles in a caramel colored 50 wt. thread. I wasn't sold on the design after I completed one bobbin worth of quilting, but I persevered, hoping that it would grow on me. It didn't, so I spent 4 hours ripping out two bobbin's worth of quilting. It was worth it. The real problem with that design is that it fought with the horizontal lines formed with the arrow fabric and the thread was just wrong. Everything about the quilt is bold, so why try to be matchy-matchy with a fine weight thread? I am glad that I buy thread the same way I buy a lot of my fabric...in packs!! I never would have chosen to buy that particular leaf green color, but it was perfect for this quilt.
The backing is a Michael Miller print that I found on the sale table at my local quilt shop. It looks like a gold bandana with a turquoise accent! Perfect! I pieced the "belt" using some of the extra scraps from paper piecing the star points.
Once, someone said to me, "I just don't understand why everyone thinks the West is so beautiful. It's just brown hills. What's so great about brown hills?" I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To me, stark is just another word for graphic or bold and that is exactly what I like. That and homemade beans and memories of home.