Project Quilting 9.3: Bold and Brave

This week's Project Quilting one-week challenge theme is Bold and Brave.  One of my initial ideas was to play with the idea of the use of bold print to emphasis a word or phrase.  This bold take on the theme would allow me to continue my experimentation of free-motion quilting words and phrases onto my quilt, as I did in my Peace of Mind and RE$I$TAN¢E quilts).

Bold & Brave Challenge theme?:  Check!
Personal challenge of incorporating an unconventional material?:  Panic Starting to Set In!!

A day or two after the challenge theme was announced, my friend Sarah Goer suggested that I incorporate rope as my unconventional material to represent my experiences as a Ropes Course facilitator.  It was an absolutely brilliant suggestion too for several reasons:

  1. In my Challenge Yourself! lecture/trunk show (which Sarah has seen me present at least 3xs now!!), I share how my experiences as a Ropes Course facilitator directly translate into my participation in quilt challenges as they routinely push me outside my comfort zone! 
  2. As a ropes course facilitator, I needed to be aware of my students' comfort zones, stretch zones, and panic zones.  Those working in their comfort zones may be relaxed and at ease, but they weren't learning anything new.  On the flip side, students that were pushed into their panic zone would either avoid the activity all together and/or too stressed out to learn from the experience.  As a facilitator, my goal was to guide participants into their own personal stretch zone; this was where they were bravely trying new experiences, boldly taking risks and ultimately growing the most!!   
  3. As part of my training to become a certified ropes course facilitator, I learned how to use different types of rope to create a swiss seat harness (not a very comfortable experience), tie various safety knots to clip onto the course and set up the various course elements.
  4. One of the most challenging aspects of the facilitator training was overcoming my own fear of heights as I was required to climb trees, towers, and cross elements that were suspeneded high up.  This required me to be brave as I worked far outside my comfort zone and to model that bravery when leading others.
Inspiration:  My Days as a Ropes Course Facilitator
Now that I had my inspiration, it was time to finalize my supplies and game plan!!  Luckily we have an entire drawer full of carabiner key chains in all different sizes and colors from conference give aways, college orientation and great deals at Harbor Freight.  The following Kona solids were selected to represent the different zones:
  • Sangria (#481) red = panic zone
  • Canary (#26) yellow = stretch zone
  • Lagoon (#139) blue = comfort zone
While I did have white rope, I opted to purchase some bright paracord and a pulley from the local hardware store to better reflect the gear used on any challenge course element.  As I practiced tying a double figure eight knot using the paracord, new design ideas started to take shape.
Challenge Course Inspired Hardware & Software
Now that I had acquired all the embellishments, it was time to create concentric circles as a foundation for my quilt.  Freezer paper was used for my circle templates and Pellon fusible interfacing to applique my circles.  In my haste, I layered the fusible side wrong so the glued dots ended up inside my circles.  No panicking here!  I reached for my trusty Elmer's School glue to glue baste the circles prior top stitching on my machine using matching Aurifil 50 weight threads in Canary (#2120) and Turquoise (#2810)!
Circles Abound Representing a Comfort Zone, Stretch Zone, and Panic Zone
Interestingly enough, when I first started to quilt, applique was one of those techniques that fell into my panic zone.  As I perused quilting books/magazines, if the pattern/project involved applique of any kind, I deemed it to be too advanced for me and would immediately turn the page and managed to avoid applique entirely for several years.  Thanks to some wonderful quilt classes and lots of experimentation, I overcame my fears of applique and my quilter's tool box now includes several different applique techniques!  I started to reflect on other experiences that were previously in my panic zone:  free-motion quilting, curves, english paper piecing, improv piecing, Y-seams, fabric dyeing, joining a guild, entering my work into shows or challenges, blogging, using EQ software, public speaking, comedy improv, teaching and lecturing...just to name a few!

As I brainstormed the Bold and Brave theme, I read a number of inspirational quotes that I wanted to free-motion stitch into my quilt.  Here are some tips and tricks that helped with this process:
  1. In a Microsoft Word document, I typed the quotes and experimented with different fonts and sizes before printing out.  Using the print outs, words and phrases could rearranged as needed to determine placement and positioning onto my quilt.  
  2. I did not aim to follow the font, but rather use the printed strips as a guide in terms of spacing of my own lettering.  This helped achieve consistent lettering and avoid the need to scrunch in letters/words to fit into each of the assigned zones.  
  3. The paper strips also helped to ensure that I did not mispell any of the words as I had to retrain my brain to stitch the words (ie.  stitching the dot onto the i, or crossing my t's without breaking thread!)    
  4. Blue Painter's tape was used to mark my guide lines as well as to hold the strips of paper in place just above or below the area where I would be stitching.
  5. I used Natural White (#2021) Aurifil 50 weight thread for stitching out all the quotes and opted to travel back over previous stitch lines to help the words/quotes pop more.  Next time, I want to explore using Aurifil 40 weight as an alternative and may opt for a more contrasting color in the yellow circle.
Bold Messages and Process (Top left, Clockwise)
Simple filler designs are stitched in and around the words using Red Plum (#1100) and Canary (#2120), adding beautiful texture and extra stabilization for attaching the embellishments.

A carabiner is clipped into a double-figure eight knot tied with the paracord that flows through a pulley into the word Change as part of a Fred DeVito quote, "If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you."  Not only does the paracord add emphasis to the word change, but it was surprisingly easy to fold and loop to create the letters!  Safety pins were instrumental in holding the rope in place prior to hand stitching it all into place.

Initially I had planned on tucking the other end of the paracord into the binding and auditioned two different fabrics for possible bindng stripes.  As I was playing with the paracord, I got the idea use it as my edge treatment.  Each corner was trimmed using a gentle curve making it much easier to wrap the paracord around all four sides.  While I started out hand stitching the paracord along the edge, I soon switched over to my sewing machine using a zig zag/satin stitch as it was:
1.  WAY faster
2.  WAY prettier!!
3.  and WAY more secure!!
Come Full Circle
 Here are some detail shots of the quotes I chose for each of the zones:

  • Panic Zone (red): "Do one thing every day that scares you."-Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Stretch Zone (yellow): "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."-Neale Donald Walsch
  • Comfort Zone (blue): "Great things never came from comfort zones."-Rajat Dogra

Challenge Circles
As I worked on this quilt, I spent considerable time reflecting on my own experiences navigating various ropes course elements, my own progression as a quilter and overcoming some of my fears, and being a mentor/teacher to others.  The title of my quilt references both my experiences guiding others through the various elements on a Ropes Course and showcases the challenge theme.

Braving the Elements, Finishes 21" x 24"
I am linking up to Project Quilting for a week of online voting (which will open after 12 noon on Sunday, 2/11 and close on Friday 2/16.  Be sure to check out all the amazing Bold & Brave entries and be sure to vote for your favorites!!  Hint hint--be sure to check out Entry #99.

And I hope this quilt helps inspire you to consider joining the next round of Project Quilting one-week challenge that will be announced on Sunday, February 18th!


  1. Awesome -- and so incredibly meaningful! I love when quilts take us on personal journeys. Thanks for sharing your process.

    1. Thank you Susan. This week's challenge theme really inspired so many incredible stories of bravery and bold actions. I had a lot of fun reflecting on my own journey and making bold choices...glad you were inspired!!

  2. Way to go Sis!!! Those circles are so crisp. Really like the overall look!!!

    1. Thanks Mark!! Once my unconventional materials were selected--the quilt evolved on its own and helped me to reflect on my own journey as a quilter and teacher. And yours looks pretty darn fabulous too!! Can't wait to see what you create next!!

  3. WOW - I just can't believe how you come up with these amazing ideas and designs. You are an artist with a cause! Another fantastic quilt and design. Love that theme and those quotes. Here is another in that line - it was in fact, a quote I picked randomly last week from "We are Women" book: "Life without a little risk is not an adventure, darling, it's a darn shame! Leigh Standley. --- Of course I voted for you!!!

    1. The brave & bold theme really tied in nicely with my love of quilt challenges and working outside one's comfort zones. I am really enjoying the new challenge of incorporating unconventional materials for some very cool design elements! Thanks for sharing another powerful quote--I love it. And of course--thanks for your vote!!

  4. p.s. I like the white background of your blog much better as I find it much easier to read. Change is good, right!!?

    1. It was time for some rebranding and working towards a more clean look where the pictures can really shine! I am so glad you like and find it easier to read!!

  5. Love the quilt and the message. Way to challenge yourself!

    1. Thank you Kim...I thought you would certainly relate to the spirit of this quilt!!


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