The Story of A Quilt

The Story of A Quilt

From a stack of library books, a quilt was inspired. The Celery Stick block from Marnie Buck and Jilly Guffy’s Quilt du Jour was supposed to quickly yield a nice big quilt top to build my machine quilting skills. Oh, well. Quilt and quick aren’t really two words that go together.

The Celery Stick block is easy to piece and scale up or down. Shopping my stash, deep night blues and yellows formed the color palette. Oh, yes, an Italian hilltop town at night could totally be an option. Many great memories of day trips to this northern Lazio town were reason to start strip cutting.

But what to quilt? After all, the whole purpose of this quilt is: 1) to play and enjoy the quilting process 2) to create a warm queen size bed cover 3) to be challenged. Then it occurred to me. I could quilt in the guild symbols of 18th Century Orvieto to build my skills.

Alanna Nelson Oriveto Quilt Inspiration Arte e Mestieri

Arte e Mestieri di Orvieto

The Guilds of Orvieto depict the reliance on textiles in 18th Century Orvieto’s economy. I remember the afternoon spent chatting with a gentleman who made terra cotta representations of these Guild mascots. I bought one as a gift. I wish I’d purchased more. So here is my quilt that is inspired by Oriveto which hung at the 2016 Rising Star Quilt Show

Vintner was one of the easier quilt shapes to dress.

Detail of the quilt top.

The Oriveto City Seal

Alanna Nelson Orvieto Quilt at Rising Star Quilters 2016 show

Orvieto as it hung at the RSQ show


So think of me if you’re ever on vacation and you find you cannot sleep forever. I’m under this wonderful quilt with twinkling lights and wonderful wool batting.



Civita II Mini Raffle Quilt

Civita II Mini Raffle Quilt

In northern Lazio, there is a hilltop that Rick Steves essentially saved from washing away, both figuratively and literally. Civita di Bagnoregio  was the birthplace of St Bonaventure, but the gritty volcanic tuff and earthquakes eroded the sides and summit of this bluff. Until Rick Steves waxed on about it in the early 1990’s, it seemed destined to disintegration.

Civita di Bagnoregio, ItalyAbout 10 days before the Rising Star Quilt Show, members received an email with new ways they could support the show. I’d never made a 12×12″ mini quilt for the raffle, so why not?

In 2010, I made an 8×10″ quilt based on a drawing I did of this hilltop town. About 75 pieces were pieced together, which was quite enjoyable, and I wanted to take this and play with the basic image. Could I create a simple quilt and finish in time? As Tim Gunn says, “Make it work.”

The mini quilt had 4 different fabrics, 3 of them hand dyed/painted pieces from my stash. I outlined buildings with machine quilting, but that left the windows. What to do? I would love to capture the way shadows hit the space, and I would love to finish this quilt before Friday afternoon!

In comes the October speaker for the Rising Star Quilt Guild, Jane Davila, who not only spoke but brought many goodies for textile artists.  I picked up a couple of nail-polish-bottle looking bottles of accent ink from Smooch. Obviously, I have a lot to learn about using these inks, but when the time and simplicity are paramount, it worked.

Civita Quilt by Alanna Nelson
I wasn’t at the show on Saturday (ehem, it was the best day of the last weekend of sailing season), but I heard it attracted a bunch of tickets. Best wishes to whoever won!