When the informal art quilt group that I belong to decided that our next theme would be “windows,” it didn’t take long for me to decide that I had to work on something related to stained glass. You see, my family’s last name is Fenstermaker. It comes from German–fenstermacher means “windowmaker.” While skimming through some quotes about stained glass, this one immediately stood out:
People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.–Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
It had to be a quilt about my kids. And I knew exactly what image to draw from.
My kids get along pretty well, all things considered, but I seldom witness outright displays of affection between them. So this picture from a few years ago still warms my heart when I look at it.
I chose to use silk that I had purchased at a quilt show without a plan for it to represent glass, gray Essex linen for the background, and some shiny spandex from an old Halloween costume that would work for the umbrella and the figures of the kids. I had to be careful with the temperature of the iron on the spandex, but it was easier to work with than I’d expected. For the kids, each section of glass was cut just a tiny bit smaller than the outline, then cut into the “glass” shapes. Tweezers helped with the accurate placement of the tiny pieces. A few pieces had to be cut a little bit smaller to ensure that there was a bit of black showing between them.
I cut the background to size and determined the placement of the figures, but didn’t fuse them yet. I cut rectangles of an assortment of silk pieces, then used a hera marker to lay out the path that the kids were walking on. The path served as a guide to cut two of the rectangles so that it would appear to extend across the stained glass border.I used a fabric glue stick to tack the silk rectangles down and sewed close to the edges. Then I added 1/4″ fusible bias tape to simulate the spaces between glass pieces in stained glass windows. Finally, I pressed the figures and the umbrella piece into place and it was ready for quilting.I used a satin stitch for the umbrella handle and added free-motion pebbles to create a cobblestone path. For the rain, I used a machine stitch meant to simulate hand-stitching if you put monofilament in the bobbin, but I used the same thread on the top and the bottom to try to get a little “rainy” texture, if you know what I mean. I probably should have lengthened the stitch a bit, but I’m happy with it the way it is.
And my kids love it, too.