Alturas - the many miles quilt

I didn’t intend to write a post about this quilt yet, but Facebook reminded me of a blogpost I published last year. (Side note, I have very mixed feelings about FB, and other social networks right now, but I really like the Memories feature).

Well, here is this year's update. The Altura quilt is almost finished (still have to quilt it though) and it makes me a bit sad. This quilt has accompanied me around the world: twice in Japan, several times in France and England, to Spain, it has kept my hands busy on road trips around the States. I made a special bag for my supplies... and I’ve learnt quite a bit about hand appliqué.

At the beginning I hand-basted each applique motif on the background squares: long process. Then I experimented with machine basting: no very satisfying, the curves were not very curved, and I had 2 strands of stitches to remove. Back to hand basting, but this time just a crisscross in the middle: the holes and edges of the appliqué were not secured enough. Next I tried tiny appliqué pins, this was so much better, so no basting threads to dispose off. Finally I glue-basted the blocks. I have a special nose for my Elmer water soluble glue that drops just a tiny bit of glue, probably the size of a pin head. It made such an impact on my productivity. I wish I had found clever, faster ways to snip the round edges of the appliqué. I timed myself and it took me approximately 8 minutes per square, then another 45 minutes for the appliqué (with the fast method).

Originally I wanted to make 121 squares (11x11), but as I reached the 121 mark I was not ready to stop. In the end, there are 130 blocks in the quilt plus a few spares.

Thanks Rene for the pictures
At first layout, I randomly arranged the blocks. That wasn’t bad, but I felt it was too distracting for the eyes. Then I tried a rainbow arrangement, but that meant quite an unbalance setting of my preferred blocks (the bright pinks, reds and the blues) versus the one I didn’t care much for (browns and greens). In the end, I set the browns in one corner, the greens on the opposite one, and gave the center stage to all the vibrant blocks. From there, putting it together was a breeze: I started by making blocks of 4, then sew those blocks in larger blocks of 4 and so forth. And Voila!

The pattern is Alturas by Carolyn Friedlander. The fabric came from 3 charm packs and others from New Zealand, sent by my God-Daughter, Marie-Pierre.

Disclaimer: I never liked these kinds of batik fabrics, they are too ‘muddy’ for me, and I will probably never work with such batiks again, but this quilt is now very special to me, each stitch carrying a memory, an emotion.