Indah Batik/MQG Fabric Challenge

Y'all know that I love a good ole fabric challenge, so I was sure to sign up for the Modern Quilt Guild Fabric Challenge, sponsored by Hoffman Me +You Indah Batiks.  Batiks were not considered "Modern" and over the past few years a number of fabric companies are challenging that notion by manufacturing Modern Batiks.  Modern batiks are produced using the same labor-intensive batik making process (as shown in this Hoffman video), but typically feature smaller, geometric prints using just 2 shades.

This year's challenge bundle included four Me + You Indah batiks as shown in left photo: Willow, Seabreeze, Powder, and Chalk.  At least 3 of the 4 challenge fabrics were required to be included in the finished design, and participants could include as many Indah solid batiks as desired in their design.  Locating the fabrics was a bit tricky, but many thanks to several members of the Challenge Quilts facebook group for sharing information about online shops carrying this collection!  I chose a variety of warm colors (right photo): Buttercup, Gold Ochre, Terracotta, Incense, Brick, Coffee, and Umber (I surprised myself by adding two brown fabrics!)
Indah Batiks and Solids

And like most challenges, I tend to percolate aka procrastinate until the week before the deadline!!  Yes my friends, the deadline was Monday, December 2nd, and I waited until Tuesday, November 26th to even start!!  I sketched out a few ideas and made a few mock ups using some fabric from my stash.  So imagine the panic that set in when those prototypes just didn't get me hyped up and I had to go back to the drawing board!!  Just as I was about to throw in the towel, I frantically started looking through my photos for quilting inspiration.  The clamshelll texture on this flower pot (captured at Alden Lane Nursery's Quilting in the Garden) caused me to pause and consider new design possibilities using bias tape applique.  I reached for paper and pen and started sketch different clamshell designs that could be achieved using bias tape applique.
Add caption

Instead of a traditional, consistent clam shell layout, I modified a design that I teach in my Modern Free Motion Fillers & Fun! workshop featuring wavy lines filled in with arches.  Brown packaging paper was used to create a full-scale paper pattern.  To help determine placement of the various bias-tape filler designs, I sketched them onto different Post-It Notes that could be repositioned inside the various arches until I was pleased with the final layout (which wasn't really final as I still made a few last minute swaps).
Paper Mock Ups

Background waves were cut out of the challenge fabrics with the darker fabrics used towards the bottom.
Layered Waves

I own a variety of Clover Bias Tape Makers ranging from 1/4" to 2" and found the sample I made 2+ years ago as a reference to remind me of the width of strip to cut, corresponding color of the bias tape maker, and finished width of bias tape.
Bias Tape Sampler

Some additional experimentation was needed to see how wide I could make the bias tape and still achieve the curvature needed for my arcs.  I quickly realized that the wider tape would not bow as smoothly as I needed and had to go down a size.
Prototype Practice

Working one background wave at a time, the fillers designs were the first to be added.  A few of the designs that involved shapes of color were fused into place with Wonder Under.  Then 1/4" bias tape strips were added to conceal the raw edges and complete the remaining designs.  Bias tape strips were were glue basted (thank you Elmer's School Glue!!) prior to top stitching with Aurifil Monofilament thread.  As the ends would all be concealed with subsequent layers of bias tape applique, I did not need to worry about finishing the loose ends!
Round 1:  Filler Designs

Next up was to outline each of the arcs in dark brown Umber using a 3/8" for the inner arcs and 1/2" for the outside arcs.
Round 2: Outline Arcs

The individual background waves were then layered and glue basted into place with 3/4" tape concealing the raw edges.
Round 3:  Layer, Assemble and Conceal Raw Edges

As the deadline was looming, I thought some minimal background quilting would be sufficient.  I quickly discoverd that more quilting would be necessary to keep the arcs from distorting, and so I went totally overboard with a variety of modern free-motion filler designs to complement each arc's design!!
Free Motion Filler FUN!!

Here is another close up detail shot of the fun quilting variety...
More Free Motion FUN!

 And I couldn't resist sharing one more detail shot...
One More Quilting Detail

A faced edge allowed the design to float off the edge of the quilt, finishing at 11:59 PM--24 hours until the deadline!!  This is the rainy season in Northern California, so I lucked out with a brief break in the rain and finding a large enough spot under the eaves leading out to the backyard to take photographs for the online entry process.  The cloudy weather provided the perfect lighting to capture the design and quilted texture!!

California Arches, Finishes 42" x 38"

In my entry I wrote:  Arches found throughout California inspired this quilt. There are more natural arches found in CA than any other state including ones found at Natural Bridges State Beach, Bodega Bay and Chadbourne Gulch. Arches are found throughout the Spanish-style architecture of the California missions. McDonalds, home of the Golden Arches, opened its first restaurant in CA in 1948. Each of my arches is a combination of bias tape applique and free-motion fun!

Time will tell if it will be juried into QuiltCon 2020, but I absolutely loved the process of designing and creating this quilt!!
Thank You Hoffman Fabrics for a Fun Fabric Challenge


  1. Bravo! Thanks for sharing so much about your process.

    1. Thank you!! I try to remember to pause along the way to capture my process aka method behind the madness. But there are times when I am having too much fun or in the zone and completely forgot to snap a few pictures.

  2. This is spectacular Mel! Fingers crossed it's juried into the show.

    1. Awww...thank you Hilary!! I am really proud of this finish and hope it gets to travel to Austin in February!


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