This is a large (48 x 54in) beach scene quilt which was commissioned through my Etsy store. It has arrived safely in it's US home, so now I can share it.
The wider than usual size enabled me to use a really nice gradation of sky fabrics. It was surprisingly hard to select them though, despite the many, many sky prints I have - it's amazing how accurate the blues need to be; I had to discount most because they were too purply, not purply enough, too grey, too greenish... After quilting some extra flame-like rays radiating from the sun, I quilted the sky in the same cloud-inspired pattern I used on my last beach scene quilt.
Another thing I did to manage the larger size was to make the reef deeper; it's much more solid along the bottom than the others I've made.
I also tried to space out the fish swimming in more open water.
A good way to help tie the reef together is by echoing certain elements (e.g. a specific type of seaweed, coral or fish). Here I found the same fish in three different fabrics. Using identical fish from the same print would have been less effective, although using several from the same print can work well if they're coloured or positioned differently - the variation makes it appear more natural.
First I had to find a good spot to position this extra large one (above) - it's a good 6in long, from a print which is on a much larger scale than I usually use (and in fact, rather suprised me when I received it, as I'd ordered it online and not looked too closely at the sizing!). I lost some of it in the seam allowance at the bottom, but it doesn't show badly. The other two fit in more easily.
It helps that they have such different backgrounds; while the large one is in plain water, the one above is in a watery background with creatures like dolphins which blend easily, and the one below is in the coral.
The photo below shows how quilting can be used to improve the way the pieces blend together, as well as highlight shapes and details.
I use a variegated trilobal polyester thread (Superior Rainbows) in shades of green, pink, yellow and purple for quilting the whole reef section; it sounds odd, but it blends and highlights nicely.
This half-hidden fish was appliqued in place, to disguise an area where the water fabrics didn't blend togetehr as well as I'd hoped when I joined several foundation sections together - a handy little trick!
The owner requested lots of bright beach umbrellas. I decided these would be far too fiddly to piece and applique, so I found a couple of prints in my stash which worked. Unfortunately most prints with beach umbrellas have them so overlapped there are no complete ones!
One I did use had the umbrellas clustered around some white chairs - but there was water in the background, and I had to cut away all the background from behind them before appliqueing them to the sand. There's a tiny bit left between the slats of the chair backs if you look really closely!
I love using the footprints fabric above, and was pleased to find another recently which also has smaller footprints (above the umbrellas). This quilt was also the first time I'd added the birds at the water's edge. I quilted closely around each bird to help them stand out.
Each time I make one of these quilts it gets easier, and it's not just the increased fabric selection (though it continues to grow). Even though I had the extra space to fill on this one, I find I'm getting better at blending the fabrics when they need it and creating asmoother, more cohesive quilt.