Dream Goddess Quilt
Finished Size: 50 x 75 inches
Completed August 2018
12th Quilt in the Goddess Series
Today I am finally finishing up a quilt I've been working on for four years, and I thought I'd share the process of finishing this large goddess quilt and share my thoughts about why it has taken so long to complete. I hope you enjoy the seeing me working on the quilt and facing in this new podcast:
Listen to the podcast or download it to your computer using this player:
Quick links to things mentioned in this podcast:
The Inspiration for Dream Goddess
Dream Goddess is a simple quilt that asks a very important question: what is the life you want to live?
The lesson of this quilt that I keep coming back to again and again is the power of your thoughts. What you think about every day affects how you feel. How you feel affects how you act. And how you act affects yourself, your family, and the world around you.
So in a very real way, your thoughts shape your reality.
The design of Dream Goddess was inspired by this simple truth. Essentially she is thinking and dreaming, and the landscape of her reality is sprouting out of her head. I wanted this reminder to focus on my thoughts and the world I wanted to build.
The problem is there are so many paths to choose from.
Should I focus on teaching and travel around the world? Should I stay home and focus on my family? Should I focus on creating new designs or new quilts?
Life gives us lots of choices, but many people are so caught up in just working from day to day, month to month that it's easy to lose sight of how much time is passing.
Creating this quilt has given me a lot of opportunity to search my heart and mind for the answers. It's also been a long enough process that I've been able to test a few ideas and learn first hand if they worked for me or not.
Ultimately I found while quilting this quilt that the peaceful face of Dream Goddess held the answers the entire time: I want to live a peaceful, contented life. I want to build a life that supports my creativity and allows me to share it with you. I want to be home with my family where I feel secure and stable.
When working on this quilt, I continually tap into the question - what life do you want to live? Why are you not already living that life?
The answer is always interesting.
Dream Goddess is a beautiful combination of two things I love: goddesses and landscapes. When designing the quilt, I began with a sketch of the goddess face, but got a bit stuck on the background above her head.
It took a few weeks to complete the sketch when I suddenly saw her layers of hair transformed a landscape complete with rising sun (a continually repeating motif in my quilts).
Selecting the Fabrics and the Applique Process
For this quilt, I immediately saw bold, bright colors so I knew I would construct the quilt from multiple fabrics using some sort of applique technique. Because I was just getting into hand dyeing fabric at the time, I decided to dye all the fabrics for the quilt. I cut the pieces much larger than the applique shapes needed and hand dyed the pieces specifically for the individual area of the quilt.
In this video I was at the halfway point with hand dyeing the fabric and placed the pieces on the master pattern to check them:
Once the dye was rinsed out completely, I constructed a huge pattern from freezer paper and constructed the quilt top using Ann Holmes's No Sewing Until You Quilt It method of applique. This is my favorite method of applique for large, flowing shapes like the ones in this quilt.
Here's a video I shared at the time of the big reveal - a fun feature of this technique!
Quilting the Dream Goddess Quilt
After constructing the quilt top, I took a few weeks to create the quilting design. This design was unusual because I marked it almost entirely from the surface using quilting rulers, templates, and stencils.
This was also the first time I stopped limiting my designs out of fear of what other people would think. My rules for the design was - your first choice is the right choice. This helped me stop censoring my ideas and allow the quilting design to come together naturally.
After marking the quilting design, I basted one layer of batting on the quilt and quilted the outlines of the designs with water soluble thread. After quilting, I clipped the batting away so it just rested in the spaces I wanted puffy. This process is called trapunto and it's an excellent technique for adding drama to your quilts.
You can learn how to do trapunto like this in the Heart & Feather Wholecloth Workshop.
When thinking about the quilting design, I wanted the fabric colors to shine through, but the quilting to stand out on the surface too. Eventually I realized the best color for all the quilting was white.
Had I matched the thread color to the fabric color the quilting design would be lost in the quilt. Had I contrasted the color, the effect would have been too busy. Quilting with white thread was the perfect balance and simplified the quilting process because I only had to wind white bobbins. Simple is always better!
Long Quilting Process
Dream Goddess was constructed in only a few weeks, but the quilting process has now stretched into three years. During this time our business has changed and I've become very busy managing the Machine Quilting Block Party and creating new quilt patterns each month.
Along the way, I found my dedicated quilting time shrinking significantly. I also changed machines multiple times while quilting Dream Goddess and the process of testing and learning the machine has also been time consuming.
This has been another lesson from the quilt - to open my schedule for more quilting time every day. I originally started my business so I would have time to quilt every day.
Another thing I've discovered is the value of minimalism. I've been quilting since 2005 and collected a vast amount of fabric, quilting supplies and gear, tools, and unfinished projects.
All this stuff often gets in my way and the clutter and chaos often prevents me from quilting. It has been a hard lesson, and one that will take lots of time and energy to correct as I clean and clear out my sewing spaces.
I've learned that it's easy to buy stuff, and it does feel good. But buying isn't the same thing as creating. More stuff doesn't scratch the itch that sitting down and quilting this quilt fulfills.
I'm sure there are more lessons from Dream Goddess that I will discover as I finish quilting the sky section of this quilt. Here's one more video on how I'm quilting the feathers in this section:
This video was shot on the Grace Qnique 14, my sit down longarm machine. I eventually moved this machine to a frame and finished the quilting on my home machine instead.
Dream Goddess ended up taking four years to complete. Upon reflection, I found there are multiple reasons why it took so long to finish. The main reason it was challenging at the end is because of the nature of dense filler quilting. It's very time-consuming and I just don't have much time to devote to quilting like this every day.
I also left questions in the design process that proved very frustrating. I thought I could easily pick designs for the sky section as I was quilting that area. But ultimately when I reached that point it was very challenging to stop and make those decisions for every section. Rather than force myself to pick designs and just quilt through the difficulty, I would often just give up and put the quilt away.
I also wasn't looking forward to the binding process. I knew I was going to finish the edges with a faced binding that would require time, effort, and experimentation to master and probably hesitated to finish the quilt for a long time just because this was hanging over my head.
It's silly because now that the quilt is nearly done and facing attached, I realized it wasn't a big deal after all.
No Quilt is Perfect
There are a lots of issues in Dream Goddess, but please understand how much I love this quilt. I am so pleased with how it looks and have no regrets about my choices or how long it's taken to complete.
I have noticed some rippling fabric and I think this was largely caused by leaving too much space between the lines of quilting. Straight and curvy lines can be spaced around 1/2 inch apart, but any further than that and the fabric begins to ripple and pleat.
I noticed the feathers could be quilted quite large with no problem, and even my largest feathers only show slight issues with rippling fabric.
What I love most about this quilt is how I challenged myself to go weird with the quilting design and play with motifs and designs I hadn't allowed myself to do before. I just wish I'd slowed down and continued that design challenge in the land and sky section.
I can't wait to make more quilts and learn even more about this wonderful quilting process!
Let's go quilt,