Emerald Swallowtail: a Modern Traditionalism Quilt

The fabrics featured in this post were given to me by Island Batik.

When I read the theme for this month's Island Batik Ambassador project, Looking Back: Vintage Quilts Inspiring New Creations, two words came to mind. Modern Traditionalism. Since Modern Traditionalism is a design theme on my 2018 Goals, I was very excited to get to work on this project.

I started with a half snowball block, which I imagine is already a variation on a snowball block, and played with the use of negative space to create my design. The design came to life in my graph notebook, where I generally start my quilt design sketches.

I chose my neutral fabric, Almond, for the background. My feature fabric, Bubble Hole in Leaf, is such a vibrant shade of green. I used every little bit of the green (with the exception of the HSTs created from the corners) and had a whopping 6" of binding leftover! I chose my backing fabric, Dot in Smore, since it was a 1.5 yard cut, large enough to back the quilt without requiring piecing. Win! ;-)

Once my quilt top was finished, I started to think about the quilting motif. I knew I wanted to do free motion quilting, and that I wanted it to be fairly dense and have a good texture. I settled on spirals, traveling into the center and then crossing over the lines of quilting to move to the next spiral. Here's a sketch of what I had in mind. I find drawing out a motif on paper (or in this case on my phone) is helpful with the muscle memory required to actually stitch it.

I chose 50wt Aurifil #2110, Light Lemon, which I received in a pack of small spools in varying weights when I recently attended the "Inside Aurifil" lecture by Alex Veronelli. The pale color reads as a neutral on my fabrics. My grey felt too dark and I thought the white be too drastic, so Light Lemon was the perfect choice. (I need more pale colors for quilting, as they blend so nicely.)

Well, I got about a sixth of my quilt quilted on my first bobbin, rewound the bobbin, and was nearly out of thread. See above. This was a gross miscalculation on my part. I generally buy small spools of Aurifil if I'm only needing it for a portion of a quilt, like on my Wizard of Oz baby quilt which used seventeen colors. Most of my thread is large spools. Realistically, I just didn't give it much thought. And naturally, I ran out of thread at about 11pm on Saturday night.

A little Sunday morning scrambling (thank you IG friends!) and I found a local shop with a large spool of Light Lemon. Woo hoo! All told, my 43.5" x 49" quilt took 4 1/2 bobbins of quilting. So worth it! I love the texture! I used Quilter's Dream Select cotton batting.

 

My binding was prepped as bias binding, but then I sliced the wrong direction when I made my strips, so I have accidental straight grain binding. *shrug* (There were lots of little issues on this quilt!) At least I had just enough to make it work. I tried a variation of my machine binding technique and on the final pass stitched from the back, stitch in the ditch. This technique essentially hides the line of stitching on the back (good since my green was such a contrast to my backing fabric) and the bobbin thread catches the edge on the front of the binding. (I was 97% successful, not bad for a first attempt!)

 

Perhaps when you first saw the quilt you thought of butterflies. So did I. (My family and a couple close friends did, too!) A little research on green butterflies led me to the name Emerald Swallowtail. The Emerald Swallowtail is a beautiful butterfly with bands of bright green on it's wings. I'm already thinking of what colors I'll make this quilt in for a larger throw version. What colors would you use?

For more examples of Modern Traditionalism in quilting you can visit the Modern Quilt Guild's website.

 

I've linked up to Needle and Thread Thursday, TGIFF and Finish It Friday.

I've also linked up to 2018 Q2 Finish Along linkup. See my whole Q2 list.

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20 thoughts on “Emerald Swallowtail: a Modern Traditionalism Quilt

    1. sarah

      Post author

      Thank you, Karen. It took longer than I anticipated, but it was well worth it! Thanks for visiting.

      Reply
  1. lisa

    This is a really beautiful quilt Sarah. I've never heard of a 1/2 snowball before, but it makes sense. I love the minimalism of this quilt and the way you scattered your butterflies across it. The quilted circles just add to the whole effect.

    Reply
    1. sarah

      Post author

      Maybe I made up the term "half snowball"? But it's definitely a think that exists in many quilts in a variety of designs. Thank you for your kind words, Lisa.

      Reply
  2. Fantastic design, Sarah, I love how it feels like a disintegrating design when looked at one way, and butterflies when looked at another. That bright green fabric shines in the way you presented it!

    Reply
    1. sarah

      Post author

      Thank you so much, Yvonne. I've realized I really need to take my finishes out farther than my backyard for photo shoots. My little quilt holders are getting taller, so that helps! Maybe we'll have some adventures this summer that we can bring quilts along for. :-)

      Reply
  3. Anja @ Anja Quilts

    I love it. Great project. I've never seen spirals done like this. I might have to give this a try. I always found going in and then back out a bit difficult.

    Reply
    1. sarah

      Post author

      Thank you, Anja... maybe I made it up? I don't actually know if I've seen this spiral FMQ anywhere. I've done tons of the in and out kind of spirals (not tracing my lines!). I need to take some close up pictures of my quilting to show the places were I had to "make it work". ;-)

      Reply
  4. Kathleen McCormick

    It’s gorgeous! I love the name, too. Nice to achieve one of your goals as well as the challenge from Island Batiks!

    Reply
    1. sarah

      Post author

      Thank you, Cheryl. I'm glad I went with the spirals. I need to spend more time thinking about the quilting (and leave myself more time for that step!).

      Reply

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