St. Basil's Cathedral
St. Basil’s Cathedral
©1989 by Ami Simms
46" x 63"

       This one took three years to make, but during that time I also wrote 2 books and cleaned the oven once. Not only did I sew it all by hand, I dyed all but a few of the fabrics too. (With 8 gradations of brick fabric and four different color runs, I have the world’s largest collection of rust!)
       There are 1304 individual pieces, stitched together using Invisible Applique. I don’t use a muslin for my pictorial quilts. That is, I don’t mark all my sewing lines on one background piece of fabric and add layers one on top of each other as I would do with a layered appliqué block design. Instead, I “invisibly” appliqué one piece to the next piece, to the next piece, usually working from the top of the quilt to the bottom. Using this technique I get much less bulk and I find it easier to hold the project as I sew. I also have the advantage of being able to flop my seam allowances to either side AFTER the seam is finished.

      I also didn’t use a design wall to audition fabric as I made this quilt. If I did, I’d probably still be at it! This quilt was planned out on paper before I ever took a stitch. I knew which fabric went where based on color and tint. I numbered each of my 30-some-odd pieces of rust fabric, for example, by color run and gradation and plugged them into the pattern like a giant paint-by-number. Each piece of fabric had a home. I don’t believe I ripped out more than one or two pieces along the way.
       Although you have no doubt already pegged me as “type A”, I did take some liberties. Those of you who have visited Moscow might know which dome in the front of the building is really hidden in the back. I don’t remember anymore, but there was ONE dome I just couldn’t figure out how to make, so I replaced it with one from the other side of the building.

(This wasn’t it—I don’t think!)

      During the construction of the quilt top, my mother visited Moscow and saw Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral. She brought back the 3 Russian coins I stitched to the top tower.

This quilt often travels with me when I teach. As soon as I come home it comes out of my carry-on suitcase and goes back up on the wall at the top of the stairs. Not the best place to see it because of the angle and the dumb railing, but it doesn’t get too much light which could cause it to fade rather quickly—unless you count the nightlight!