The Prince Cherrywood Challenge: Purple Haze and Englightenment Daze

I absolutely love Cherrywood's Fabric Challenges.  Their hand-dyed fabrics are absolutely gorgeous and each brilliant challenge bundle paves the way for a truly spectacular exhibit of quilts juried into the traveling collection(s).  Plus, Karla Overland, the owner, does a fabulous job of hosting and promoting the challenge!!  Yes, I am one of those quilters who placed their pre-order of the challenge bundle before the colors or theme are even announced.

This year's challenge theme celebrates Minnesota native, Prince.  Quilters were invited to draw inspiration from Prince's music, style, movies, and distinct look to create a unique 20" x 20" square quilt using the challenge bundle featuring three purples and a black.
Prince Theme Challenge Palette

This year's challenge theme really stumped me.  I grew up hearing Prince songs on the radio and loved SNL's Prince Show sketches played by Fred Armisen, but needed to brush up on my knowledge about Prince's life, music and fashion first.  My teaching schedule was jam-packed and I wasn't sure there would be time to complete my entry.  Less than a week until the deadline and I finally managed to pull out the bundle of fabric for the first time.  Anytime I began to doubt my ability to participate, I would hear a Prince song on the radio, or see a little Red Corvette.  In fact, just 6 days before the deadline: I went for a morning walk where I saw a red corvette parked in a drive way, saw two more red corvettes while driving on the highway and then saw another red corvette parked behind me!  I guess the universe was sending me a sign!!
Little Red Corvette Parked Nearby

With just a few days left, I attempted to brainstorm and sketch on two separate occasions.  Some interesting ideas but nothing really excited me enough to head into the studio and get started.  As of Sunday morning, I was seriously considering passing on the Prince challenge altogether.  I made a short pros and cons list of participating and in the end the pros won out.  So I went into my studio and got to work.
Pencil Doodes Inspired by Prince

In my brainstorming sessions, I kept seeing these three-eyed sunglasses worn by Prince that intrigued me.  So I got started on a Prince portrait.  Below you can see my construction process using raw edge applique with fused fabrics (clockwise starting with top left):
  1. Simplified head shot with a few key details.  I quickly realized how difficult portraits are for me to create!!
  2. Swapped out the light pink lips for medium purple and added a neck, scarf and shoulders to anchor the floating head.
  3. Sketched out a psychadelic background that radiates out from the center
  4. Purple background positioned
  5. Red-Violet accents added
  6. Fine tuning of the background shapes and sizes

Prince's Progression

By early afternoon, I fused everything into place and was ready for quilting.  This is where I really started to have some fun!  Four different Aurifil 50 weight threads were used to add some really fun quilted textures and details:  Black (#2692), Dark Violet (#2582), Medium Lavendar (#2540) and Light Magenta (#2588).  Some of my favorite details include:  a stitched third eye onto the third lens, music notes and paisley feathers.
Thread Painting on Prince's Portrait

By 12:30 AM, I finished adding on the binding and was ready to call it a night.  I woke up early the next morning to take pictures to complete my online submission.  With 8 hours to spare, my application was complete and submitted!

Artist Statement:  Prince Rogers Nelson was a master at reinventing his fashion, his music and himself.  In everything he did, he evoked confidence and mystery.  Finding inspiration for my entry continued to elude me, right up to days before the deadline.  Images of Prince wearing sunglasses with three lens sparked a design idea and confidence for me to finish this challenge.  Quilting details celebrate his music, home studio Paisley Park, flair for fashion and lasting impression on the world.
Purple Haze and Englightenment Daze, Finishes 20" x 20"

I am happy to say I am among the 388 people who successfully submitted finished quilts.  And now we wait to see which ones will be juried into the traveling collection.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Jaye...I am glad I participated as it gave me a chance to play with some beautiful Cherrywood fabrics. While it was not juried into the exhibit, I sure learned a lot from the experience!!


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