As I mentioned in the December Patreon Mini Mini Quilts post, three of my Patreon’s unlocked rewards in December. The third patron unlocked a mini quilt reward, and when I asked if there were any preferences or things to avoid, the patron responded that they really like my tree of life (the giving tree) mini quilt and my mini mini “ohm” quilt. The only color I needed to avoid was purple. Clearly, the patron likes my whole cloth quilts and tiny quilting detail. After pondering a bit more, I asked if there is a particular element or animal in nature that they are drawn to or feel an affinity for.
I love any sea animals, especially whales and turtles.
Well, as soon as I saw turtle in the reply, I knew I had the perfect inspiration point: the photograph my husband took of a Green Sea Turtle diving that he took in 2011 that hangs over our living room mantle. I sure hope my whole cloth / thread painted version of his photograph does it justice! It’s my pleasure to introduce Deep Dive today.
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you have likely seen some of the progression I made to create this mini quilt. It was a really fun process that I broke up over a week at the end of December and beginning of January, and I’m going to share the step by step process here with a bit more explanation about how I created the quilt.
I started by selecting the background fabric I would use for the front, back and binding of the quilt. I settled on Kona Nautical because I knew that if I used bright thread colors the thread would glow against the dark fabric and then I could let the fabric be the low light / dark areas of the quilt. Then I used my Clover White Marking Pen that vanishes with heat to outline the shape of the green sea turtle and fill in some of the major details of the turtle. I used up my pen, so I didn’t get all the marking done that I had envisioned, but it was enough to get me started!
I actually have double batting underneath the green sea turtle. I started out with just the fabric for the quilt top and a scrap piece of batting and quilted once around the outer outline of the turtle. Then I carefully trimmed back the batting right to the edge of the sewn line. After that, I basted the quilt sandwich as I would normally with another full piece of batting for the mini quilt.
To fill in the turtle, I started with the darkest green thread color that I planned to use, Aurifil 2870 (Green). (Note: all the thread I used in this mini quilt was 50wt.) I went around the outline of the turtle a total of 3-4 times including my first time which was only for the quilt top and first layer of batting under the turtle. Then I went in and outlined the other major edges of the turtle using 2870 and then I quilted the areas I considered to be the darkest lighted areas of the turtle.
After I was done with 2870, I switched to 2784 (Dark Navy) to fill in the low light detail areas that are in shadow of the turtle, the areas on the lower left. After that, I switched to 2860 (Light Emerald) for the mid tones, and this is when the turtle really came to life, I think! I really loved adding this layer and especially the wrinkly lines around the neck and forward shoulder. The final layer of detail for the turtle was created using 1231 (Spring Green) and was the highlighted areas on the top of the forward flippers and shell.
I had been wondering if using a double layer of batting was really going to be worth it given how densely I knew I would be quilting the turtle, but I really like the small 3D depth the unquilted areas of the turtle create.
The third and final quilting step was to add in the background fill. To set the stage and explain a bit more, here is how my husband describes the scene he photographed:
This is a green sea turtle that I photographed along the south-western coast of Maui. The turtle was in about 30 feet of water along a rocky outcropping. It was about to dive to the bottom after taking a quick breath of air. The water surface was a little rough; all the small air bubbles are from waves braking against the rocks that are just out of sight in the background.
I really love the way the turtle is framed by the air bubbles suspended in the water, so I knew that quilting tiny pebbles to mimic the air bubbles was the way to go. I started with 2024 (White) and quilted about as small as I could go. Note that I did all of this quilting on my domestic Juki TL-2200QVP Mini. I took frequent breaks as the fine detail was time consuming and I split up the white quilting over 2 days. After the 2024, I added subsequent bubble quilting in 5006 (Light Turquoise), 5005 (Bright Turquoise), 1125 (Medium Teal), 2740 (Dark Cobalt), and 2784 (Dark Navy). I was running low on 2784, so it got an assist with 2783 (Medium Delft Blue) in the bobbin.
As I mentioned earlier, I bound the mini quilt in the same fabric as the front and back, Kona Nautical. The mini quilt finishes at 19-inches wide by 17-inches tall.
And because it is a whole cloth mini quilt, the back is just a mirror image of the front!
It was an absolute joy to translate one of my favorite photographs by Michael Fuchs (my husband) into a mini quilt. I definitely have plans to do more whole cloth quilting in the near future, too.