Susan-Claire Mayfield of the Gourmet Quilter takes a break from prepping for the Festival of Quilts to tell us about That Town & Country quilt, her block-of-the-day quilt. (Offered by Fons & Porter as a Block of the Month!)
It’s about an hour drive to the city, from Susan-Claire Mayfield’s website home in the country. That Town & Country quilt, with it’s 365 unique 4” quilt blocks, was inspired by the transition she would watch unfold on the drive.
When I asked her if she brought a sketchbook along to capture what she saw, she answers, “Well, no, as it’s not so easy to sketch while driving. ”
Ah, right. Point taken.
But she often made a mental note of interesting things while traveling, and you see them in the quilt blocks of That Town & Country.
The city is at the center of the quilt, a ring of primitive-style skyscrapers circling a yellow-gold star. From there, the rounds transition through suburbs to country, all the whimsical buildings, houses, shops, trees and animals appliquéd onto progressively lighter squares of blue.
“It’s a wonderful story quilt, a great eye-spy quilt,” Mayfield says. “For example, there’s just one mouse, and people have fun looking for it.”
Of course there are quilt shops—three of them (one of which is the Gourmet Quilter). “There are service shops, like a mechanic and a paint shop, and a whole round of gardens—suburban gardens or botanical gardens, if you like.”
Mayfield confesses that she’s probably a country girl at heart. She and her husband live on 3 acres of land in New Zealand. Mayfield says she didn’t make the quilt too regional, because she wanted quilters overseas to respond to it, but there are a few home touches.
That “home” block is on the outermost, country round of the design. Whenever she returns to her house in the country, “there’s a pukeko—a type of swamp hen—perched on the concrete water trough along my driveway. I put him in the quilt. It’s block 358.”
The quilt design can be personalized easily, with quilters adding their own little twist, which is something really nice.
Mayfield took about two or three years with the design, dabbling at it as she and her husband traveled. Once she was satisfied with the design, she put the quilt itself together rather quickly.
The technique, too, is one of the reasons she chose to use batiks. Batik fabrics fray far less than most quilting cottons, making it a good choice for raw edge. Of course, batik fabrics also offer a true richness of color that’s hard to find elsewhere, as you can see in the gorgeous progressive blues of That Town & Country quilt.
“I did want that shading, and the nice Hoffman watercolor batiks worked really well. There aren’t many companies that do that well.”
This was her first block-a-day quilt, though she has another, the Daily Dot quilt, available now.
As the Gourmet Quilter, she often thinks of designs in relationship to food. “There’s the phrase ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away.’ I figured the same might be true of a quilt block a day.”
Has it worked?
“Maybe it has—I certainly haven’t had time to catch a cold!”