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
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!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Quilting Kim's Kitties

My friend, Kim started Quilting for Mary, in honor of her friend Mary, a survivor of breast cancer.  Kim has worked hard to set up this organization and is dedicated to making quilts for breast cancer patients to create a fabric hug to help survivors through treatment and recovery.  She and several of her fellow quilters get together regularly to create quilt tops/backings that are then quilted and distributed to several local hospitals serving cancer survivors.  While I am not able to attend any of her sew days, I have supported her efforts by forwarding along fabric strips and yardage from my stash.
Kim's Kitties Quilt Top In Progress

Recently, Kim asked if I might be willing to quilt one of their new crib/lap sized quilt tops they would be selling at an upcoming holiday bazaar, to help raise some additional funds for Quilting for Mary efforts.  Her group had created such a fun and cute top using the Cat City Quilt Pattern, and she wondered if I might be willing to do a simple all over pattern.  Of course I agreed to help out, and upon seeing an in-progress picture of all the cute cats and fun fabric prints, I asked her if she would mind if I did a bit of customized quilting, as I am a lot like Angela Walters, who easily gets bored doing the same design over and over again.  She said "have at it" and delivered the quilt top, batting and backing at our next rendezvous.  

I brought it home and had a closer look at all the prints and designs, and then pulled out an assortment of Aurifil threads in pinks, orange, yellow, lime green, and black.  Last Sunday, I started to layer and pin baste the quilt.  Monday morning I started to stitch in the ditch along the black border and then moved onto ditching and filling in each of the green sashings in my favorite figure eight motif.  Throughout the week, I would quilt a few kitties here and there, tackling a different color at a time.  By Friday, all the cats were quilted and Sunday I stippled the light pink backgrounds and quilted the borders in lime green and hot pink Wiggly Tentacles (that looked a lot like cat ears).  In just one week--the entire top was custom quilted!   Of course, when you are having fun, time tends to fly by; and this was a very fun top to quilt.  I just loved all the colors and patterns!  I really hope it helps to raise a lot of funds for her group to continue all their fabulous work within the community!!
Detailed Shots of Quilted Kitties
Back all quilted--love the pair of cats hanging out on the back
Kim's Kitties All Quilted
Thanks to Kim and her group for a really fun project to quilt and serve as quilt therapy during a really crazy week.  Now it's time to move onto some long awaited projects...and perhaps a quick cat nap?!?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Celebrating Farm to Fabric

Despite the low blog activity this summer, I was a very busy girl working on a variety of quilt challenges, including one that I couldn't share until today: "Celebrating Farm to Fabric" sponsored by American Made Brand solid fabrics.  Quilters were invited to design and make a quilt made entirely from their new solid fabrics that are produced entirely in the United States.  Quilt entries had to speak to what it meant to us, our family or our community to bring fabric production back to the United States to use in our American Made quilts.

Draft Sketch of Fields of Quilted Dreams
As per my usual, I started to research cotton production and was inspired by several images of a row of cotton harvesters staggered in a line across enormous cotton fields to harvest rows of cotton fibers, leaving behind a wake of empty brown rows.  The cotton harvested could then be spun and woven into fabric for quilters to create the quilt of our dreams.  So instead of leaving a wake of brown empty fields, I wanted to create a wake of fun, fresh and modern quilt patterns representing all the potential for the cotton harvested.

Below is a fun bundle of American Made Brand solids I selected for this project which included a variety of aquas, greens, gold/yellow, oranges and even some browns, which rarely make it into my quilts.

Bundle of American Made Brand Solids

Using this fun palette of colors, I then set out to create a variety of rows featuring modern block construction, techniques and designs--each featuring a different background color to create a gradation from top to bottom.  Some designs I just knew I wanted to include all along, while others were a bit more improvisational depending on which fabrics/colors were still remaining.  But here are some pictures of the quilt rows throughout construction.

Fabric and Lego Interpretations of Cotton Harvesters
Once all my modern quilt rows were constructed, I then created my little cotton harvester blocks complete with yellow prairie points to represent the picker heads that collect all the cotton fibers from the plants.

It was then time to add the white and brown sections representing the rows before and after the cotton harvest.

Now the quilt top construction was still taking place in the week prior to the August 1st deadline, and did not leave much time for me to tackle the quilting or finishing.  Much to my sheer delight and relief, I decided to revisit the website to make sure my quilt design met the judging criteria, and learned that the deadline was extended 2 full weeks...hallelujah!!  This extension made a huge difference in allowing me ample time to add all the quilted texture to really bring this quilt top to life.  And I finished hand stitching the binding/sleeve the morning of the deadline...phew!

Here is the finished quilt followed by detail shots of the quilting and design.
Finished Fields of Quilted Dreams
Detail Shots of Modern Design and Quilting
Another finished quilt/Lego picture 

I was thrilled to receive an email informing me that my quilt was juried into the exhibit, which would debut at the Houston International Quilt Festival and Quilt Market, October 25th through November 2nd.  One of my fellow guild members attended and posted some pics, but I've been trying to learn more information about the other quilts that were juried into the exhibit.  Hopefully something more will be posted soon!  But until then, enjoy my post of Fields of Quilted Dreams.