South Pacific Dreaming


Set of three quilts

I’ll try and let the quilts speak for themselves, but I do like to waffle on a bit ūüėČ ¬†Recently a very good friend of mine commissioned me to make a set of three wall quilts for her family as a¬†souvenir¬†of their time living in Noum√©a. ¬†They had really liked a quilt I had made previously so we talked about making something in that vein, but incorporating the themes of their travels, their time living aboard their catamaran and their passion for kite surfing. ¬†The first task was to set aside my impressions of them and really look at the South Pacific through their eyes. ¬†They gave me some photos for inspiration and we spent some time talking.

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Whilst I spend my days quilting my friends do this!!

Maybe I took the process a little overboard, but I met with them twice, the first time onboard whilst they took photos for me and talked about the iconic aspects of their Catamaran.  We looked at the grain of the cabinets and table, the textures of the surfaces, the shapes of the windows, the sails and mast.  They gave me some material from one of their favourite kites and I set upon working it into the piece.


I then met with my friend a second time and asked a few more questions, got a map of their route from Florida to Nouméa, a few more photos and showed her some sketches.  I then promised myself not to bother them again.

She Travels Mini Quilt
“She Travels” quilt

I worked on “She Travels” first. ¬†I drew the¬†palette¬†from an amazing photo my friends provided of a freshly caught Mahi Mahi.

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The Mahi Mahi is found pretty much world wide and is very popular in the South Pacific.  My friends have enjoyed catching and eating this fish.

She Travels quilt angle
The three circles come from details of the catamaran and I added the phrase,
“Know your dream, find a route” just above these circles.

I included some prints with French text to represent the French culture in which we live (and remind them of me Рone has a sewing machine!).  For the quilting I followed the path that my friends took from Florida, to the Caribbean onto the Galapagos, Tahiti, The Cook Islands, New Zealand, New Caledonia and Australia (with many stops in between!).  I then echoed this route in ever expanding lines to give the idea of a map of the sea bed or currents.

She Travels Back
Back of “She Travels” quilting detail

I found the second quilt difficult to define, I put so much into it and pinpointing the¬†focal¬†point was tough. ¬†In the end I named it “Elements” as to me it represents the elements of the wind, water and land as well as kiting, a clear passion of my friends.

Elements quilt top
The flaming C represents the kites that my friends have used during recent years.

This quilt excites me.  I really pushed myself by pairing a busy pieced section with an expanse of white which I then quilted in bold colours.  Absolutely no room for error!

elements quilt top angle

I took the shape of the island from the photo below, the lighter blue of the wake behind the board shifting into the darker blue.  The colours represent the turtles that laze about in the seagrass bed and the unsuspecting kiters that have to dodge them.

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Ilot Maitre is a favourite kiting location for my friends.

I have no idea of winds and waters but I absolutely love these photos of my friends kiting.  I can see how much they love it and I can feel the excitement.

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These things zoom and on a good day there are dozens of them weaving around each other.

Pouring over these photos I could almost imagine the wind and I did my best to capture this in my quilting.

Elements quilt back
quilting detail on back of “Elements”

The third quilt, “South Pacific Dreaming” is probably my favourite and I plan to make something similar for my family.

South Pacific Dreaming Wall Quilt
South Pacific Dreaming

The detail in the quilting is momentarily lost when you glance at this quilt. ¬†I didn’t want the family portrait to be overly obvious and it took me a few days to work out how to quilt it. ¬†I merged two photos, in the original photo the Father and son were sitting in a hammock and I tried to keep the texture of the hammock to give the idea of my friend sitting with his baby on his knee (seriously cute baby!). ¬†The second photo was taken years later and my friend was leaning in perfectly toward her now four year old. ¬†Pairing the two photos to create a family portrait was a lot of fun and I love the outcome.

South Pacific Dreaming angle
Can you spot the family portrait?

The quilting detail is more easily seen from the back.  I love this intimate scene, it really captures the personalities of my friends and I am going to miss them so!

South Pacific Dreaming back
South Pacific Dreaming quilting detail on back

The quilting in the white section is a reminder of the iconic windows of the Catana Catamaran that has been my friends home for the past decade.

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Yes, the South Pacific can be absolutely beautiful!

I also incorporated the classic palm leaf that we see everywhere. ¬†I’ve been dreaming about quilting it for about six months so it was fun to finally try it out :) ¬†I would love to piece it, but I’m not sure how crazy I am LOL

hotel grounds

My friends popped over this afternoon after school to pick up their quilts and I’m happy to say that they love them. ¬†They are moving to the other side of the world but they look forward to taking a little piece of the South Pacific with them to help settle them into their new home.

Usually when I share a quilt I talk about the materials used, these quilts used more than just materials, there were memories and emotions and dreams involved.  It was a privlidge and a pleasure to work on these pieces and I will miss my friends dearly.

All three quilts were made using my favourite materials; Aurifil threads (2000, 1135, 5005, 5006,1128, 2810 in 50 wt and 2024 in 40 wt) in blues, white and yellow – those colours glow and really made these quilts. ¬†Bella solids (the white is snow) and lots of favourite prints from my stash. ¬†If you would like the details of a specific print, please let me know and I’ll try and help you, but I suspect I used around 40 different prints so I’ll skip trying to list them all ūüėČ

Set of three quilts

I’m posting a little early so that my friends can share these photos with their family overnight but I will be linking up with TGIFF at Quokka Quilts tomorrow :)

21 Comments on South Pacific Dreaming

  1. MsMidge
    June 6, 2013 at 11:56 am (3 years ago)

    Simply amazing gem!

  2. Karen @ Pieces of Contentment
    June 6, 2013 at 12:04 pm (3 years ago)

    Reading about the details and reasoning behind each quilt add so much more meaning and depth. So pleased your friends liked their quilts too!

  3. Aoife
    June 6, 2013 at 1:44 pm (3 years ago)

    Wow! These are amazing, purely on a skill level and then they’re filled with so much meaning! So glad your friends loved them too :)

  4. vexa
    June 6, 2013 at 4:25 pm (3 years ago)

    All of them are awesome but I like the quilting which looks like wind the most. The story behind is what makes them so special.

  5. Adrienne Klenck
    June 6, 2013 at 7:08 pm (3 years ago)

    Gorgeous Quilts, and I love how you integrated them with the “real” shots!

  6. Janarama
    June 6, 2013 at 8:45 pm (3 years ago)

    The quilts are absolutely stunning! Also loved the story behind them …. makes them extra special.

  7. Deborah
    June 7, 2013 at 1:19 am (3 years ago)

    These are so so beautiful – what a precious memory for your friends to have – of you, and of where they lived :-)

  8. Kristy @ Quiet Play
    June 7, 2013 at 2:40 am (3 years ago)

    Absolute artworks Gemma! I love how filled with meaning and sentiment they are. What a special souvenir for your friends. You did an amazing job on them!

  9. Anna
    June 7, 2013 at 4:04 am (3 years ago)

    They are amazing. Love the colours and the personal touches you have incorporated! Brilliant!

  10. Gina
    June 7, 2013 at 4:06 am (3 years ago)

    These turned out so beautiful and meaningful!! A true treasure!!

  11. Salley
    June 7, 2013 at 7:29 am (3 years ago)

    Gorgeous art work and clever sewing…great to see it on Aurifil FB page!

  12. knitnkwilt
    June 7, 2013 at 3:13 pm (3 years ago)

    I really appreciate comments about design process. Your three pieces are lovely; I especially like the quilting designed from mapping the route of travel and from the family photo.

  13. Catherine
    June 7, 2013 at 4:56 pm (3 years ago)

    These are very beautiful and your friends are very lucky!

  14. maria
    June 7, 2013 at 10:36 pm (3 years ago)

    Fabulous work The colours are wonderful. Love the little family portrait in the quilting.

  15. Elise Lea
    June 7, 2013 at 11:06 pm (3 years ago)

    These are incredible. You did such a great job capturing the themes of what they wanted while leaving a little to the imagination. Thank you for sharing!

  16. fotohok
    June 8, 2013 at 6:40 am (3 years ago)

    They’re beautiful, love the abstract interpretation of colors, feeling and places.

  17. hydeeannsews
    June 8, 2013 at 9:35 pm (3 years ago)

    How absolutely creative. I think pacific dreaming is my favorite. The family portrait is an especially nice touch.

  18. Jessica
    June 8, 2013 at 11:45 pm (3 years ago)

    Wow, these are abosolutely amazing! I loved reading the story!

  19. Helen L
    June 17, 2013 at 6:47 pm (3 years ago)

    wonderful quilts you did for your friends!! Your quilting is especially wonderful! I can see that you poured your heart and soul into creating something very special, and they are just spectacular! I’m sure your friends will treasure them! Thanks for sharing, Hugs, Helen in Healdsburg

  20. Finding Fifth
    July 2, 2013 at 9:26 pm (3 years ago)

    How on earth did i miss this post! These are just super wonderful and will look stunning as a triptych on the wall. So glad you reposted about them in your June round up.

  21. Gillian
    July 10, 2013 at 9:41 pm (3 years ago)

    These quilts are inspired – they’re so obviously made with joy and feeling. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.


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