“Well, it’s about time,” I hear you muttering at your computer screens. “You’ve been taunting us with photos of that same red and green quilt since before Christmas!” Quite true… so with apologies for what may now be an anticlimactic reveal, let me tell you all about it.
I made this quilt at my first Gwen Marston Beaver Island Quilt Retreat in 1997. Gwen's topic that year was Four-Block Quilts. I brought along four Oak Leaf & Reel blocks I'd made ahead of time so that during the workshop, I could focus on design and assembly. Much of what Gwen taught is outlined in her subsequent book, Classic Four-Block Applique Quilts: A Back-To-Basics Approach.
My blocks are framed with appliquéd dogtooth and vine and berry borders. As Gwen instructed, instead of having borders elegantly turn the corners as they traditionally would in a medallion format, mine are unresolved, marching boldly off the edge of the quilt in a far more casual manner.
I can’t tell you how challenging this was for me. My quilting style back then was as stiff and formal as those Oak Leaf blocks, and even though Gwen assured us there was historical precedence for this treatment in many antique quilts, the technique just rubbed me the wrong way!
So did some of Gwen's sewing methods. If you look carefully, you might notice that while leaves and berries are appliquéd by hand, the vine itself is top stitched by machine. “What will people think?” I worried. “They’ll call me lazy for combining hand and machine appliqué in the same quilt!”
But you know what? I have yet to hear a critical peep out of anyone. Little by little, I’ve embraced Gwen’s relaxed, no nonsense approach to quilt making. The few quirks in this quilt that used to annoy me, now make me proud of my personal growth as a quilter. It’s about time!
Oak Leaf and Reel
30" x 30"
hand appliquéd, hand quilted
© Diane Burdin, 2000