Daurmont, Made by Jackie and Madeleine
Another story about a wonderful collaborative quilt! I think it was at the beginning of 2019, when Jackie approached me with a pattern that came home with her from Quilt Festival in Houston, where we spent some time in the Primitive Gatherings booth in the vendor area. The pattern name was Daurmont, and Jackie had (still has!) an abundance of wool scraps, the perfect fabric for this quilt. The scraps are mostly leftovers from her mother Helen, who was an accomplished seamstress, making clothes for her family for her entire life. And we are talking about everything from ranch work clothes to school clothes to party dresses, suits, and coats. Quite a treasure trove of beautiful fabrics - Jackie did not save them all, but certainly kept the best pieces! Jackie's plan was to "use up all that wool", which as we all know, seems to be a moving target. Scraps easily add, multiply, and divide, but rarely subtract in any kind of meaningful way - there are always more! Well, we tried, anyway!
Our usual method of collaborating is that Jackie does the cutting and stitching of the quilt top, and I do the color layout and arranging of the elements, adding to the design as I go, create the border design, and quilt the top when it is finished. We get together to work on cutting, laying out, and fusing the elements in place, then Jackie takes home whatever we have ready to stitch and goes to work. Daurmont is a beautiful pattern, but as usual for our taste, we wanted to fill in the design with more flowers and leaves, and to make the quilt larger with additional blocks and a luscious border. I think the pattern shows only nine blocks and no border. So, off we went!
The blocks finish at twenty inches square, and are made of four quadrants, each being a different subtle ivory cotton print. In my early quilting years, I would not have even considered mixing background fabrics in a quilt, but now, just the opposite is true. I love the interest that is created by the various fabrics working together. Jackie began with making twenty blocks and miles of green flannel bias cut stems. The stems finish at 3/8" wide, and are tubular, so no raw edges. Then, using the large light box that my husband Jim built into the top of one of my cutting tables, we traced the position of the stems on the background squares and fused them in place. Jackie then machine stitched both edges of the stems with a narrow blanket stitch in a coordinating green thread.
The next step was to prepare the wool fabrics for the appliqué. All of the wool was washed, dried, and pressed. What a big job! But so worthwhile, as it felted up (tightened up) somewhat, we knew that it was clean and fresh, and was more receptive to Wonder Under, which is our preferred fusible product. Then miles of Wonder Under were applied to the wool, and all of the flower shapes were drawn on the Wonder Under, and cut out by hand. We used my Accuquilt Studio die cutter to cut the several different leaf and circle shapes and sizes. I have had custom leaf and circle dies made to match the shapes in my Autumn Memories pattern series, and they were close enough to the Daurmont shapes to substitute, so that was a bit of a timesaver. We cut hundreds of each! And we even remembered to remove the paper of the Wonder Under before cutting with the dies... sometimes!
Then, the fusing began! Now it was getting fun, to see how the colors of the wool looked together! I really like the fullness of more leaves and we added one flower on the north-south-east-west points of the blocks. I think the Daurmont pattern didn't have any flowers on the block edges. It took several weeks of meetings to arrange and fuse the blocks, and each week, Jackie went home with an armful of blocks to stitch. She chose thread colors to enhance each flower and leaf color - no shortcuts! When the blanket-stitching was finished, I worked on the final block layout, and put the flowers on the block joining seams. Jackie stitched the blocks together in pairs, then did the flower appliqué on each seam. We made a system to keep the quilt sections as small as possible to make the appliqué easy, but there comes a time when you just have to have the whole thing put together for the last few flowers to go on.
I worked out a garland border design to complement the block pattern, which could also be made in twenty-inch sections, then joined in long pieces. We stayed with the assorted ten-inch background fabrics, and the whole process began again! Jackie found the perfect shade of wine-red wool for the inner border and the binding. After pre-washing it for shrinkage and to remove excess color, she sewed it to the quilt top, but found that when pressing the seam with steam, the red dye still bled out onto the background fabrics. What a disappointment! The wool came off and careful washing of the edges of the quilt top removed the red tinges. And the search for another fabric started. Jackie ended up with a piece of flannel in the same color, washed it to within an inch of it's life, and made new inner borders. The color held! The flannel is virtually identical to the woolen texture, so that worked out well. The outer borders went on, and she handed the project over to me to quilt.
First of all, I outlined all of the appliqué with Sulky Invisible thread. Each layer of each flower is outlined which really gives them dimension. Even after raising the hopping foot on my 1999 Gammill Classic long-arm, it was still a bit difficult to glide over all of the layers, but I took it slowly and persevered. I then stitched in the ditch on both sides of the inner border, and changed to a Floriani thread for a simple circular inner border design. The last and most time-consuming part of the quilting was the background texture. Many people have questioned whether that is just a computer design that "stitches out", possibly while I go wash my dishes. The answer is an emphatic"No!". I do not have a computerized machine. Every stitch is hand-guided, free-motion work. I do a bit of practice before beginning on a quilt, to figure out how the design will work, but it is mainly an intuitive process that changes constantly as the needle moves throughout the ins and outs of the appliqué shapes. I stitch slowly and deliberately, to fill in all areas with a consistent density that will enhance the appliqué. I used an ivory Isacord thread.
The finished quilt was entered into our Routt County Fair that year, where it received the highest honor of The Colorado Quilt Council Award of Excellence. Following that, we entered it into the American Quilter's Society show in Paducah, Kentucky. The quilt was juried into the show, sent away to be judged, and then you know what happened... Corona virus began, all shows were cancelled, and all quilts returned home... We were able to present her in a masquerade show at the Steamboat Art Museum, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, during the summer of 2020. The show featured the work of David Taylor, and Jackie and I were invited to fill up the extra space with our quilts. But that story is for another blog post!