Border Swags Part 1

It has been quite a while since I last shared the progress of my quilt “Flourish on the Vine”.  This is partly because the next stage – the appliqué in the borders – is taking a fair bit of time to complete.  But it is also because I didn’t want to reveal any of the border designs until I was sure they were going to work.  I am ready now to show you the appliquéd swags in the borders of my quilt.

If you have been following along, you will recall that this quilt was inspired by a passage in John 15:  “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.”  The completed center panel represents the vine and the branches, so the borders needed the fruit!

All along, I had been visualizing swags for the outer borders.  I remembered seeing swags filled with fruit in a Dover book of Empire Designs and hoped I might be able to adapt one of them for my quilt.  Franz Sales Meyer, in his Handbook of Ornament, describes clusters of fruit hanging in a curve as festoons.  Fruit festoons were popular decorative elements in Roman, Renaissance, and later styles.  Unfortunately, there was not sufficient detail in these sketches for an appliqué design.

Drawing my own version from scratch was a daunting prospect.  How would I maintain the scale of each type of fruit?  How would I handle the way the elements overlapped?  And what about color?  I would need to use color to help identify each variety of fruit but at the same time coordinate with the palette in the center panel.  How could I balance colors in a line drawing?

Then there was size and shape to think about.  The quilt is rectangular, so how many swags would fit best on each side?  How wide would the borders have to be?  How could I balance the elements in the long vertical borders with those in the shorter horizontal borders?  Yikes, did I even have what it would take?

As they say, you never know what you can do until you try.  Here is one appliquéd swag – one festoon of fruit – and next week I will answer all these questions and tell you how I came up with the design.


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