One of the most intimidating things about drawing is the blank page, and to the same degree, I face some of the same fears when I go to quilt a piece. Sometimes, areas of the quilt will almost quilt themselves. In the I Am the Vine quilt, the tree was a no brainer — I outlined the tree and the inner motifs. The problem came when I was faced with the black background. It was very empty.

When I’m stuck like this, I flip through Quilting Arts magazine & books looking for inspiration. In this instance, nothing spoke to me — so I went back to the original photograph.

tree study

The church in the background — well, suffice it to say that we left that church and currently attend a church that doesn’t have a building. I have many hurt feelings over that transition but decided that using the building in the background was actually a good metaphor for my feelings. To use it as a motif in the quilting makes it ephemeral while the tree is truly alive. I’ve always felt closer to God in nature and the tree embodies all of the body of Christ. The building is only that — background.

Probably more than you wanted to know — but that became my focus for the quilting. There are other quilters that pick the quilting in the beginning or as they are designing the quilt, but I design the quilting when I am getting ready to quilt it.

The more that I quilt, the more able I am to quilt without a rope (so to speak), but the panic that I feel at the blank canvas is only overcome — for me, anyway — by taking out a water soluble white pencil and drawing. I draw until I get what I want, and sometimes, I draw off a section that I know I will fill with a freestyle design — like the bushes.

I first drew the horizon line along the bottom of the wall and the bottom of the plant bed. Then I drew in the rest of the wall, sectioned off the bushes, and sketched in the door.


Close Up



In the end, it didn’t take me all that long to complete. I used Superior’s clear MonoPoly thread for the tree and smoke MonoPoly thread for the quilting on the black.