UFO Wrap Up: Wrap Around Rays

Pieced Quilt Top
This is the last of the quilt tops made as part of the UFO Exchange!  Not only did I purge unloved UFOs, but I committed to finishing/quilting each new project started in this fun challenge...woo hoo!

When brainstorming various quilt motifs, I looked at each of the block shapes for inspiration.  Initially I thought about creating a feather wreath that would circle around the center floral square, but wasn't totally in love with the sketched mock up.  So then I broke it down to each of the rectangle units to see what I could create within each rectangle and again tried various feather designs, flowers and other filler motifs, which were fun but didn't thrill me.  Then I subdivided the rectangles with a diagonal line, which was echoed in the outer sections to create rays and then some cursive E's in the lower triangle...which I just loved!!

Mocked Up Free Motion Designs (top left to bottom right):  feather wreath, feathers, wiggly tentacles, spirals/cursive e's/chain of pearls, flower and finally wrap around rays with cursive e's.
As soon as the wrap around rays and cursive e's were sketched, I knew it was a perfect complement to the pieced design and was ready to start stitching.  I hate marking quilt tops and turned to my trusted blue painter's tape to create a straight edge guide for my walking foot to stitch the dividing diagonal line.  Once I went around once in a full circle, I used a smaller piece of tape with little tick marks to spread out the echoed lines evenly in the remaining space.  I started at the narrow end and just worked my way down the center of the triangle towards the center tick mark, then stitched in the ditch to the next tick mark, pivoted and then sitched down the center of this new triangle back to the point, pivot back to the last registration mark to create at total of 4 straight line rays.  Once all the straight lines were stitched and the center square stitched in the ditch, I put on my free motion foot to fill in the center blocks with wavy lines or pebbling, and then filled in the inner triangle units with loops/cursive e's going from large to small.  
From Sketch to Stitching using Blue Painter's Tape
Quilted Blocks Using Superior King Tut Variegated Threads
Now that my free motion quilting is improving, I don't want it to simply blend in with the background fabric.  So I am choosing bolder thread colors so you can really see the stitched motifs.  I really love Superior's King Tut brand and found two fun variegated threads to use:  Ramses Red and De Nile.  My first inclination was to play it safe and use the warm colored thread on the pink blocks and the cool color on the teal blocks.  But then I tried to audition the opposite combination by pooling some of the Ramses Red thread on the teal blocks and really loved how it popped, and tried the same with pooling De Nile on the pink blocks.  I kept going back and forth as to whether to play it safe or to mix it up a little, and once I took that leap of faith, I absolutely love how it created another layer of interest in my finished piece.
Wrap Around Rays
Quilt Label and Backing Fabric
I used a bold pink and green floral fabric for the backing with my signature corner label.  My quilt title comes from the spinning gradated units that wrap around the floral center blocks, and the stitched lines that radiate around the center:  Wrap Around Rays!

I am excited to announce that I will be teaming up with a fellow UFO Exchange participant and board member to host another UFO Exchange starting January 2015, complete with more fun UFOs to swap and fabulous prizes including edge to edge quilting from Grace's Long Arm Quilting and a budget to buy more gift certificates to our local quilt shops!  I hope you can join the UFO fun!!
And that's a wrap to the 2014 UFO Exchange!