Thursday, April 23, 2015

Finished Foxy Farewell

Quilt top design and audition process
My work colleague has been admiring my quilts displayed in my work space, and started to drop a few hints indicating her interest in me making her a quilt  She competes in sword fighting and has taken on the persona of Fiore del Volpe, translated as Fine Fox and as such, really wanted a fox themed quilt.

After some more hinting, I started a fox themed Pinterest board and sought her input as to which fox designs resonated with her style and persona.  With several project deadlines rapidly approaching, the fox quilt remained at the Pinterest research stage, until she recently announced her decision to resign in order to relocate to the East coast to be closer to family.  With her move date rapidly approaching, the fox quilt was quickly bumped to the top of the priority list and finished a day ahead of schedule!

With less than a week until her end date, I revisited my Pinterest board for inspiration on fox designs as well as layouts.  While a variety of fabrics were auditioned, solids were selected in order to showcase some quilted texture.  While the machine appliqued fused fox block came together in one night, the design for framing was a bit more involved.  I had envisioned an asymmetrical border, but wasn't sure of the exact layout or dimensions.  So I pulled out a stack of prints and simply folded and layered them to audition various combinations and layouts.  After multiple auditions, I finally settled on one that had two parallel framed blocks separated with a long bar of ombre fabric.  While it was one of the better combinations, I wasn't totally in love with the design.  But giving the rapidly approaching deadline, I decided to move forward anyway in order to finish.  As I was cutting out a wide swatch of the orange flowers print, serendipity took over as it was placed next to the fox block creating the asymmetry I was envisioning!  I scrapped my original idea and used a wide section of that fabric, smaller widths of a multi-colored floral print and incorporated some thin striped piping to create some contrast.  

Then it was time to add some quilted texture!!  Some quilting designs came immediately to mind, while others took some planning and sketching.  The fox tail seemed a lovely spot for some feathers, but when I sketched them out, they just didn't fit.  Once I doodled some flames/wood grain, it totally clicked for me.  I had originally left the white eyes, belly and tail tip unquilted, so they created a faux trapunto, lofted look when surrounded with dense quilting.  But I simply could not resist adding some escargot swirls to these areas which still had some loft given all the layers.   The multicolored floral print had so much going on that I kept the quilting simple with a basic stippling, but realized it was difficult to see the thread and my previous stitch lines.  So I turned it over for better visibility but was having some significant tension woes and thread breaks.  So while it should have only taken 15-20 minutes to quilt the floral frames, it must have taken close to an hour due to rethreading, picking out stitches and all the other frustrations.  In the long run--it still looks fabulous and has such a great texture throughout!!
Auditioning various quilting motifs:  top row with rejected motifs with the winning designs along the bottom row
The same striped fabric was used for the binding.  The backing fabric is a cute print featuring foxes weaving through birch trees.
Backing print featuring more foxes
Once it was quilted and bound, it was time to add the finishing detail: button eyes.  I finished it a day ahead of schedule and brought it into work to surprise her.  I snuck it in without her seeing it enter the building and when she had a chance to step away from her desk, I pulled it out from hiding and hung it in her cubicle for her to find upon her return.  She turned around and was so surprised to find a foxy quilt made in her honor.  She really enjoyed the finished project and proudly raved about it when other colleagues inquired about the quilt.  I will admit that it was a treat for me to be present for the final reveal as most of my gifted quilts must be shipped by the mail and I miss out on seeing her initial reaction. 
Farewell Friend...Best of luck in your cross country adventures!

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