For more information on Project Quilting, visit Persimon Dreams.
For the full “making of” photo gallery, skip to the bottom.
A blog I follow hosts a quilting challenge modeled after Project Runway, which they call Project QUILTING. I have never actually watched Project Runway though, so I have to take their word for it! The way it works (I think) is this: a theme/inspiration is announced and “contestants” have one week after that to submit a completed project. Projects don’t have to be traditional quilts, but there are some rules that it must include either patchwork, quilting, or appliqué. The finished projects are then put up for a vote and there are several prizes for the winners. I have no delusions that I would ever win, but it seemed intriguing.
The first challenge’s inspiration was “Trees.” I purchased the fabric and had a plan, but lacked the time to complete it. I still want to make the wallhanging I had planned for that challenge, just for the quilting practice and the fact that I need something to hang on the walls of my sewing room.
The second challenge is “Sunrise/Sunset” and the instructions that go along with that are, “Use what inspires you…the colors…the images…the things you do at this time of day.’” Since I am supposed to blog about, or email, my creative process… here goes:
Step one of my creative process was to scour the internets looking for inspiration and/or a project to make. I hopped around many ideas, including piecing gradient strips for the background in the colors of the sunset and them embroidering on top. That was my runner up idea, but I didn’t have the right colors in my stash and didn’t really want to purchase thirteen or so different fabrics to make the idea work. In the end I settled on the ease of a paper pieced variation of a dresden plate that I found here.
The next step was fabric shopping. Yay! And luckily there was a good MLK Day sale at a local shop, so I might have gone a bit overboard on fabric purchases. But I came away with what I hope were good choices, although the batik’s colors seemed to wash out a bit with ironing. The background fabric I found is a mottled blue called Plaster of Paris, it struck me as “sky like” with the different shades of blue swirled together. For the “sun” I happened upon a batik fat quarter that must have been the last of what they had in the shop because I didn’t see it when looking at the bolts. It is full of swirled red, yellow, and orange that give the impression of fire. The center of the sun is a solid orange that complimented the batik’s colors.
Step three? Wait for the baby to go to sleep. Then it was time to print the pattern for the dresden plate, at which point I promptly remembered that my foundation papers were one of the few things that were left in the baby’s closet from the time when I stored all my sewing stuff there. Doh! At this point ninja skills were required.
It was then a matter of your typical paper piecing, except the only paper piecing I have ever done was a year ago with the January block of the Elegance quilt. That is how I know it was a year ago! So it probably took me twice as long to do the first half of the block than it should have, since I spent the whole time over thinking it. And then halfway through I thought, “oh crap, did I want the wide pieces to be the blue?” and sat pondering this and trying to envision it in my head for a bit before forging ahead. I am still not sure which way would have been better. When I look at the orange lines, I feel like they elongate the blue sections instead of the orange… but then at the same time, I am not sure the having the orange as the skinny pieces would have the same sunburst effect.
The page I found the design on showed two different methods of attaching the plate to the background fabric. One being raw edge reverse appliqué, and the other involved sewing fabric to the plate right sides together and then flipping it right sides out to hide the edge. I suppose it is kind of a cheater method of needle-turn styled appliqué. I opted to try the latter method, using the same color as the background fabric just in case any of it peaked out from under the dresden plate.
Since I don’t trust myself to sew a circle, I decided to try out a trick I had seen online somewhere in which you tape a thumbtack to your machine and let that serve as the pivot point for your fabric. It was a bit tricky getting that lined up, and it still came out a bit uneven, but it didn’t really matter so I went with it. I think if I decide to do a lot of circles in the future, I might invest in the circular attachment for my sewing machine since the thumbtack proved a bit unreliable and the set up was a little time consuming trying to measure and place the tack even with my needle.
Once I had the dresden plate completed and flipped right sides out, I fused some Wonder Under to the back of my orange fabric and used my handy circular rotary cutter to cut out the center circle. After ironing that to the dresden plate, I used Mono Poly to tack around the edges of the inner circle and the plate, as well as along the ditches of the “rays.”
Then it was time to figure out what I wanted to do about quilting the thing. I have only done free motion quilting (FMQ) once before, over a year ago. This seemed like an excellent opportunity to practice my FMQ skills, so I stitched some wavy lines and swirls in the background in an attempt to give the impression of wind and clouds. I guess the FMQ came out okay for a newb like me, but the stitch length is far far from uniform and there is even one place where my lines touched that is driving me mad. I will have to pick that out and fix it when I have time.
I then used a variegated thread in sunny oranges and yellows to extend the lines of the dresden plate out to the edges of the wall hanging. For those stitches I used Mono Poly in the top, and the variegated thread in the bobbin, with the tension set so that it pulled the bobbin thread through to the top to give the appearance of empty space between the stitches. I also attempted a spiral on the solid orange circle, which came out pretty awful. Maybe I can rip all those stitches out and fix that when I go back to fix that quilting mistake.