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Creating Crystal Rain in Namaqualand

Time to shine! 

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After being inspired by the reports and photographs of all the rains that fell on the dry West coast of South Africa, I started with my foreground. For this, I used

  • recycled machine embroidery threads
  • organza and
  • Avalon
  • Isacord machine embroidery thread
  • Adjustable Stippling foot #73
  • Straight Stitch Needle Plate

I used different shades of green recycled threads to represent the greenery that one sees after the first rains in the desert areas.

Namaqualand Transformed (Photograph curtesy of Margaret du Toit)

The way I created this was to spread these colours onto a layer of organza and cover it with another layer of organza. On the Avalon, I sketched roughly the outline of the different parts that would become the background for the flowers. All the layers were pinned. A suitable shade of green Isacord machine embroidery thread was chosen and used to sew all the layers together. After the Avalon was rinsed out, this was set aside.


I studied the texture of quiver trees and decided on the fabrics to use for this. To create the focal point of my art quilt, the quiver tree, I used the following fabrics:

  • A sheet of synthetic felt in beige
  • A sheet of gold organza
  • A smaller sheet of synthetic felt in burnt orange
  • A smaller sheet of copper organza
  • A sheet of Avalon and a permanent marker
  • Isocord machine embroidery threads in shades ranging from gold and copper to grey and navy.
  • Adjustable Stippling foot #73.
  • Soldering iron

    Creating the quiver tree.

Once I drew my quiver tree on the Avalon, I pinned the layer of beige felt, gold organza and Avalon and started to embroider. However, some of the ‘flowers’ on the quiver tree I wanted to be slightly more 3-D so these were embroidered afterwards and rinsed to dissolve the Avalon. Of course, these are not really flowers, the flowers are bright yellow. These are the leaves that form the crown to the flowers.

Felt Quiver Tree Flowers

Daisies are the flowers that grow profusely in Namaqualand. Therefore I created some in pink and some in light blue. I was planning to use these to give the quilt depth. The fabrics used for these are:

  • Pink synthetic felt
  • Light blue organza

    Felt Namaqualand Daisies.

    My Inspiration for the Blue Daisies. (Photograph curtesy of Margaret du Toit)

A soldering iron was used to singe the edges of the green background, the daisies and the quiver tree once it was dry. The next step was to audition the background fabric. I wanted a dramatic background and finally decided on a mottled brown batik.


I put the three layers on the BERNINA Q24 and used black and white variegated embroidery thread to quilt vertical lines to represent rain falling. At irregular intervals, I used silver metallic thread to make it shine.

Dramatic Batik Background

To quilt a background like this, you will need:

  • Batik
  • 2 layers of Batting
  • Backing
  • Black and white variegated machine embroidery thread
  • Silver machine embroidery thread
  • Metallic needle
  • Adjustable Stippling foot #73

Keep watching to see how I put this quilt together! Remember to put comments in the comment box below!

Difficulty level: Intermediate
Time to Complete: A week or more
Used Material: Batik, batting, embroidery thread, Everything synthetic, Felt, Machine embroidery threads, organza

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  • Gillian Van der Merwe EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    Tilly, this is amazing!! Felt like I wanted to be there.  Your work is immaculate as always. 

    • Tilly de Harde EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

      Thanks for a lovely compliment Gill! One day I will be able to go and visit the flowers but for now, my imagination has to suffice! I really enjoy the sparkle of this quilt….just like rain!

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