Friday, December 19, 2008

Quilt Challenge, Take 2

So friends, here's the story of "Illuminated Grove." As you know, I was all set to submit a landscape quilt for the quilt challenge. Well, "all set" may just be an exaggeration. I had about 1/3 of the quilt top designed, before going to the quilting festival in November. On the last day, I took a class on design in making a block by looking at a piece of a picture, especially close up. I found this gorgeous picture of trees in a grove, with light streaming in. I fell in love.

So then I started creating 10" X 12" blocks, each one representing a portion of the whole. My vision was that each block would be in a different color, producing a gradation of colors to show how the light progressed from the top left to bottom right. My other thought was that I was going to use all fabrics in my stash, and not go out and buy more.

There were a few adjustments to these goals in the end. One of them being that I ended up sneaking a little bit of an adjacent color into each block, in the hopes that they would show continuity of design. Once I realized that I was having much more fun with this design than the one I was planning to submit to the competition, I decided to finish this as the quilt I would submit to the competition at the end of December. Suddenly this quilt of exploration became something more important. I wasn't just doing it for myself, I was doing it for a purpose.

Of course, this meant buying more fabric.

It also meant creating a second purple block, to incorporate the challenge fabric. Here are the original blocks:

You can see the challenge fabric in the purple block at bottom left; it's the marbled fabric used for the tree trunks. The design process went along happily, and before I knew it, the blocks were done. Then there was the small matter of putting them all together and finding some way to quilt them. I knew that I wanted to keep the blocks separated by some sashing. I tried a few fabrics between the blocks, but only this beautiful black would do. Here's how it looked, as I auditioned the black fabric as the sashing:

Originally, I meant to piece the blocks in with the sashing and borders. But then, as the blocks came together, I realized that the seam allowance would eat key design elements. Thus, I needed to find a way to float them on top of a background fabric long enough for them to be quilted in. I didn't want to add more fusible to the thickness of the blocks, but in the end I would pay for not doing so. Everything else that I tried was only marginally successful at tacking down the blocks to the background fabric long enough to quilt. As with every project, I learned something in the process.

But, in the end, all worked out almost as planned. I'll post soon with pictures of the final piece.

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