Friday, November 14, 2014

Quilting is in my DNA

My guild is celebrating our 40th anniversary this year.  As part of the year-long festivities and our biannual quilt show, the guild is hosting a "Blast from the Past" quilt challenge.  Members were invited to create a small quilt (perimeter not to exceed 52") based on an personal and/or world wide event from the past 40 years.  We had to include 4 square inches of red fabric (since this is our ruby anniversary) along with the date(s) of the event in the fabric, embellishment or quilting.

Monday is the entry deadline and I actually finished my entry ahead of schedule!  Although I will confess to significant procrastination!  Here is the evolution of my quilt entry...

While brainstorming events from the past 40 years, my mind quickly jumped to great tragedies such as 9/11 and the Challenger explosion (which occurred on my birthday).  But then I feared that creating such a quilt would take an emotional toll and that my quilting would never do justice to either event.  

Jelly Roll of Kaffe Stripes ordered from Amazon.com
Instead, I sought out more uplifting events and researched some of the significant technological advancements and scientific discoveries from the past 4 decades.  The Human Genome Project really piqued my interest and a quick image search via Google and Pinterest yielded loads of DNA related motifs, patterns and designs that would be fun for me to translate into fabric.  I was especially captivated by images of computer monitors displaying color bands representing DNA sequencing which reminded me of striped fabrics.  I found a jellyroll of Kaffe Fassett woven stripes which provided a rich variety of colorways, band thicknesses and patterns.  

Pieced DNA Sequence Backdrop
While I had found the perfect fabric, I was still teasing out the perfect design.  I kept searching for design inspiration and found a few nuggets of ideas but nothing ever dazzled me.  With the deadline rapidly approaching, I finally dove in by slicing up some colors and sewing them together.  I had thought about doing an all red section but once that section was done, I laid some purple stripes next to it followed by some blues and teals and really liked the bands of gradated colors radiating out from the red center.  
But now what?!?  I thought about appliqueing some silhouettes of the human body and found all different images that could have worked, but the truth was, I didn't love it nearly as much as I liked my backdrop.  So rather than cover it all up with random bodies in motion, I preserved the DNA bars with some basic stitch in the ditch quilting and added some information about the event, since it had not been decided whether our artists summaries would accompany our quilts at time of judging, and I feared that others may not immediately recognize that these bars represented DNA sequencing.  Since I also needed to include the date, I created a small banner plaque to include the date and a President Bill Clinton quote about the significance of the Human Genome Project, which I sliced into the striped background.  I really love the double helix design and was hoping to incorporate it somewhere into the quilt's design or quilting and the large borders seemed the perfect backdrop to free motion some double helix's using variegated threads.  
Fabric Plaque Commemorating the Human Genome Project
Last but not least, I chose to finish the quilt with a facing rather than a double fold binding.  Having never done a quilt facing, I turned to Gloria Loughman's Linear Landscape Craftsy class for her lesson on finishing our quilts using her facing technique (rewatching the lesson as needed for the more technical aspects of this technique) and I am rather pleased with the finished look completed 3-4 days before the deadline--go me!!!
DNA Mapping:  Our Past, Present and Future (Finished Size 12"x14")
The membership will vote at our January and February meetings and the quilts will be on display for our March 2015 Quilt Show.  I can't wait to see what my fellow guild members created for this fun challenge!

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