There shouldn’t be any question that I love a good tree quilt. Whether it’s the literal idea of a tree like Grove, Olive and Pine or a more abstract realization like Aerial Grove, I think it’s a good lesson that inspiration can not only come from anywhere, but it can take on many different forms. At first glance it may not be totally obvious, but my new Long Leaf project is rooted in my love of a particular tree. (Pun definitely intended.)
On the Name
Long Leaf Pines are a personal favorite. They are a native tree to my area, and I admire their beautiful shape and vibrant color. To me the shapes in this design have a way of reaching upwards in the same way that Long Leaf Pine trees do. There’s a certain celebration at each new break of branches and burst of needles, which I love. Translate that idea into some fabric and color, and I think you have something really special.
Here are a few young pines (and some oaks) waiting to get planted at my house from a few years ago.
Long Leaf is a really versatile project; you can sew it up in a few different ways and of course with a tons of different fabrics and colors. This first version I made using Foundation Paper Piecing (FPP), a technique that I love for it’s precision and easy repetition. This project can also be made cutting the pieces from templates and sewing them together (which I’ll talk more about with my Kept version of the project).
Choosing a Technique
If you’re unsure about which method to go with, try making a few test blocks using both techniques first. I cover both approaches in the pattern. After doing that you should be able to get a feel for what works best for you.
There are advantages to either technique. I think FPP can be a bit more forgiving while making it a bit easier to achieve a final result that is accurate and precise. Having the paper as a foundation means you won’t have to worry as much about over-pressing (and possibly stretching) triangular pieces of fabric. With FPP your seam allowance is more easily integrated into the process, which helps you achieve consistent sizing. Your blocks will be just the size and shape they need to be.
Template Piecing may be a bit faster, but it does rely on an accurate seam allowance and good pressing.
I used all Kona Cotton solids for this version. Using a solid for a project can highlight the geometry of the shapes in a clean way. Playing up or down the contrast between the colors will exaggerate or minimize that difference.
In terms of color, I wanted to mix shades of blue (Kona Astral, Paris Blue and Harbor) with light backgrounds of cream, pale pink and light blue (Kona Lt. Parfait, Natural and Lake). In using FPP, you can get more horizontal breaks in your background between the motif because of the way the blocks come together. I really like this effect and how it adds a vertical element to the design.
The quilting is an all-over, fairly tight meandering motif that I did by machine. When I’m not wanting to highlight one aspect in particular, but instead I want a graphic motif to stand out evenly, I like going with an all-over quilting approach like this. It just sort of evens things out while adding a little bit of texture when you get up close.
Pattern: Long Leaf Quilt Pattern
Technique: Foundation Paper Piecing
Fabrics: Kona Cotton solids in Astral, Paris Blue and Harbor for the motif and Lt. Parfait, Natural and Lake for the background