Nothing like a new season of Project QUILTING challenges to kickstart my quilting mojo!! What is Project QUILTING?!? I am so glad you asked! In a nutshell, it is a series of online quilt challenges that are designed to push you outside your comfort zone, while still having loads of FUN. Each challenge is based on a unique theme that we must interpret and incorporate into our entries. Our entries can be any size but must incorporate some form of patchwork, applique and/or quilting. Oh...and one tiny, insignificant detail: they must be started and finished within ONE WEEK!!!
One week?!? Just one week?!? 7 days?!? 168 hours?!? 10,080 minutes?!? Are you INSANE!?!? My responses: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! and YES!! I managed to complete all 6 challenges last year and not only managed to survive but actually thrive! These challenges are designed to stretch our creativity, while also creating the perfect opportunity to explore new designs and techniques. I learned so much from my own participation last year, as well as checking out everyone's entries and reading about their own design process via social media (blog posts, Instagram, flickr and the Project QUILTING facebook group). And did I mention there are prizes involved?!? The organizers do a fantastic job of lining up some pretty sweet prize packages for viewer's choice as well as random drawings from those who participated.
As this is the 8th year of Project QUILTING, the organizers celebrated this milestone with the first challenge theme: 8 is Great! I've greatly enjoyed seeing how other quilters have celebrated the theme with their entries (nearly 100 entries have been submitted and there are more than 12 hours left until the deadline--so more are to be expected!!)
A frequently asked question I get about my participation in quilt challenges is about how I manage my time and stay on schedule to finish before the deadline. So I thought I would provide some insights about the various milestones I set for myself for this first challenge.
Challenge theme revealed at 10 AM PST. Spent some time brainstorming why 8 is Great. I started a new secret Pinterest board to gather some ideas which included: the song 8 Days a Week, Magic 8 Ball, 8 Knot, Golden ratio and Octagons. But I kept coming back to making a new mandala. I've been wanting to experiment using single-fold bias tape to create a modern mandala and this challenge was the perfect opportunity to give it a try!
I set out to accomplish three tasks related to this challenge:
1. Mull over the construction process...order, tools, etc.
2. Pull fabrics from my stash--The grey/lavendar strip in front inspired the other fabric selections but did not get used in the actual quilt. Instead I chose a soft, light grey for my background and selected four red-violet with different size scale of print, value and textures. The top most fabric was used for my quilt back.
3. Draft a design onto freezer paper.
Now that I had selected my fabric palette, it was time to start cutting it up!! I prepped all my background units and started making single-fold bias tape. Luckily I had experimented with the various Clover bias tape makers and created a handy reference for myself that includes the width of strips to cut, finished width and which color of Clover bias tape maker to use!!
This was the halfway point of the week, so I wanted to have my individual units prepped and ready for assembly. I marked my design onto the background and made more bias tape. I may or may not have also started contemplating alternate designs as I wasn't 100% confident in my plan for construction. However, those doubts were soon quelled once I started attaching the bias tape and started to see my mandala design emerge!! I was enjoying the process so much that it wasn't until I was adding the final strips that I looked at the clock and realized it was almost midnight!!
I couldn't wait to return to the studio to see my in progress mandala. I spent most of the morning and early afternoon securing each of the strips into place with top-stitching. And then it was time to assemble my quilt top!! As you can imagine, having 16 seams merge into the center creates some construction challenges. I opted to cover my sins by appliqueing a circle over the center and cutting away the excess bulk underneath.
Now that my quilt top was complete, I got to work layering and pin basting my quilt top for quilting. I spent some time doodling different designs using my handy dandy sheet of acrylic plastic and white board markers. I opted to fill in the negative space with circles and c-curves, a nice complement to the linear design of the mandala. I thought about using a matching light grey thread but decided to be brave and reached for a spool of Aurifil 50-weight in light magenta (#2588).
While I love the bias tape designs in each of the corners, I soon noticed a void in the north, south, east and west regions of my quilt. While it was too late to add more bias tape to balance out the mandala design, I could stitch some extra details with some thread work. I used some blue tape to mark out the lines and embellished with more C-curves. I wasn't sure how I wanted to quilt the border edges, so I prepared my label and binding and called it quits around midnight.
Somehow I had convinced myself that the quilts were due Saturday night by 10 PM PST, when in reality they are due Sunday morning by 10 AM PST. I have since added all the real deadlines to my calendar (aka my best friend when it comes to quilt challenges) I was thankful for this imaginary extension as I woke up with yet another pounding migraine headache (the third this week!) I completed the border quilting using my favorite zig zag meander which went super quick, followed by attaching my label and binding! My quilt was finished just past 12 noon (with almost 24 hours until the real deadline!!)
|"Cre8 & Medit8", 22" x 22"|
Sunday through Sunday:
Now that I've finished my quilt, I've got one week to relax and recover for next round of Project QUILTING fun! I am also hoping to entice you to check out all the amazing entries and vote for your favorites!! Online voting for viewer's choice will begin Sunday, January 8th (sometime in the late morning/early afternoon) and continue throughout the week. Winners will be announced next week, along with the next challenge theme on Sunday, January 15th (hint-hint!!)