Butterfly Art Quilt

As a pediatric dentist, I see lots of kids with interesting clothing selections.  Some have mismatched colors, some have their shirts on backwards (or their shoes), but some are absolutely adorable.  Last winter, one of my younger patients (she was a little over 3 years old) came in with a t-shirt on that had a large butterfly printed on it.
Now, I love butterflies – with their beautiful colors and graceful wings. This little girl was fearful of having me check her teeth, so I tried to help her relax by talking to her about her t-shirt.  Turned out that she liked butterflies too and gladly started showing me her t-shirt.  On closer inspection, this large butterfly was actually made up of smaller butterflies and was really cute.  After a successful dental checkup, she left cavity free and happy!
Since it was a busy day, I didn’t think more about the patient until my lunch break when my staff commented that they were happy she overcame her fears and was able to complete an exam and cleaning. One of my staff commented that the conversation about the butterflies may have been what helped her to relax. This conversation sparked an idea in my mind – to make a quilt with a butterfly made out of little butterflies.

http://www.missoulabutterflyhouse.org/store/

An on-line image search was unsuccessful in finding a picture of the t-shirt that matched what I remembered seeing earlier that day. I did, however, find a link to the Missoula Insectarium. In their store, they sell a t-shirt with butterflies  that I thought might be a good inspiration for my quilt.

Using a graphics program, I did a quick design to see how the idea might look. This, I thought, was going to be a fun quilt to make.

Creating the applique butterflies:
Using the graphics program, I cropped the butterfly image around each of individual butterflies.  In doing this, I found that several of the butterflies were about the same shape.  So, I actually only had 12 different butterflies to work with.  Using the Bernina DesignWorks software, I created a Cutwork and Applique file for each butterfly.

For my fabrics, I used the samples from my many trials of fabric dyeing – shibori, mandala, etc).  These fabrics had symmetrical colorings and patterns that worked well for butterfly wings.

More on this project in my next posting…

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