The Wisconsin Quilt Expo is held every year in September. Early this summer they invited artists to submit their mini quilts to be considered for entry into the Modern MiniQuilt Challenge.
I’ve always wanted to enter a quilt in a competition but never had the nerve to do it. Just like many of you I have
They say you have to be willing to take rejection as easily as acceptance.
I’ve struggled with that concept all my life. I guess I would never make a good salesperson.
This year the temptation of the mini quilt category was too much to resist.
I have a portfolio filled with specimens. There just had to be one that I could be willing to share with my peers. Which one though?
After looking over the possible candidates I decided to select this one.
The deadline for entries was the end of June.
After crossing the stumbling blocks of
possible rejection and
choosing the quilt to enter
I approached my next personal challenge…
It was hard for me to package up and mail my mini quilt. My faith in our delivery system has been tainted by
Trusting the USPS to safely and successfully deliver my mini quilt was nerve-racking. Obviously I had to overcome that phobia in order to participate in the challenge.
After mailing my item the waiting game began. The Expo Committee said they would make their decision by 7/31/18. I mailed my mini quilt well before the deadline. Mailing it early meant I had 40+ days to wait for their decision.
Let’s fast forward to early August. Of course I just happened to be on vacation with my grandchildren when my letter arrived. While I would have liked to be able to run to the mailbox to find the letter myself, spending time with my daughter and grandchildren was way more important.
My husband was at home so he had the pleasure of opening the envelope.
Here’s the photo he sent me.
I was so excited to find out that my mini art piece would be on display in the Expo Hall. How
There is a well-known quote by Benjamin Franklin that reads:
Nothing ventured, nothing gained
To put it in other words, we must be willing to take a risk in order to achieve something.
took a risk
I can’t wait to see my mini quilt,
amongst the other awesome entries! My camera will be very busy that day.
Now that the end of our second Mystery QAL is just around the bend I decided it was time to share my own project. Over the last three months I have been busy designing, and creating my masterpiece. This wonderful little art quilt originated while exploring the Five-Sided Made-Fabric technique taught by Victoria Findlay Wolfe in her book 15 Minutes of Play.
Late in 2017 I challenged myself to create each of the 32 projects listed in the book. Although my progress has been slow, I have enjoyed and learned a lot from each of the sections.
Creating my own fabric from scraps is a technique I have used many times. I have not, however, tried Victoria’s version. On pages 40-41 she provides directions for a Five-Sided Made-Fabric. As the name suggests, each of the blocks begins with a five-sided center.
Using the QAL designated fabric,
along with scraps from my overflowing bins, I fashioned together nine blocks. All nine were then combined to create an art piece I have called Five-Sided Center. Art Piece # 45 measures 23 1/4” x 23 1/4”.
My new art piece was sandwiched with a layer of Warm & Natural batting and a cotton fabric backing. I quilted my piece on my conventional sewing machine using a variegated thread and a geometric straight-line pattern. The raw edges of Five Sided Center are protected by a facing. A hanging sleeve and label were added to the back.
This is my Mystery QAL art piece.
Thank you so much for visiting today! I hope that you have enjoyed reading about and seeing my latest art piece.
I’ve been working diligently at creating each of the blocks in the book 100 Modern Quilt Blocks by Tula Pink. I am happy to report that I’ve completed the first 75. I think the last time I talked about them I had just completed block number seven so a lot has happened since.
Time For A Break
After completing block 74 I made the decision to stray, for a while, from my mission to make all 100. The last grouping of blocks I had just completed was slightly more complicated than all the rest. After accomplishing those my brain needed a rest. I was exhausted and needed something else to throw my quilting enthusiasm into.
I maintain a box of orphaned quilt blocks and misfit pieces. Every now and then I pull it out and peer inside to see if anything is calling my name. My recent scrounging reminded me that I still had remnants left from the Courthouse Steps debacle waiting for my attention. I’ve shared stories about these blocks in the past. You will find them listed under the category Courthouse Steps, Block of the Month. Feeling the strong desire to wrap up a few loose ends I chose the remaining remnants for my next project.
Ugly because I didn’t like them. They were just too boring for my taste. To make them appealing I had to camouflage their existence. The best way to do that was with a rotary cutter.
Time to Start
One by one I attacked all 6 ugly ducklings with a determination to turn each one into a beautiful swan. The end result created 16 brand new art pieces. All 16 have been quilted and are ready for finishing touches (binding, hanging sleeve and label). I’ll share photos when they are all finished. Until then I will leave you with a a photo of one of my experiments.
Thank You for sharing in my celebration of my newest art pieces! I hope that you will return to watch all 16 unfold.
After finishing my piece I had some of the challenge fabric left over. I thought it would be fun to challenge myself to use up as much of the material as possible. From the leftovers I was able to create five small art pieces. Combined together they form my first ever series or grouping.
The First of Five Art Pieces
The first and tiniest art piece in the series is titled Alleyway, AP # 40.
Alleyway, AP # 40
Alleyway, AP # 40 Back
Who’s curious about the name? Let me see a show of hands. Roseanne, I see you have both hands raised. 🙂 I just knew you would be interested. Ha Ha!
Every art piece deserves to have its own unique name. There are times when my mind draws a complete blank. For whatever reason I simply cannot find the inspiration. On those occasions I will often look to my husband for his suggestions. In this instance he deserves all of the credit.
The blue and white strip of fabric extending from the bottom left corner upwards toward the top edge reminded him of an alley. Once he identified the landmark I could see what he was talking about. I saw no reason why I shouldn’t use his suggestion. Thus is how AP # 40 received its name.
Alleyway is 7 1/2” long and 7” wide. Those measurements take into account the attached white borders. If I had not added them just imagine how small it would have been.
From the above photos you can see that I quilted it with a very simple straight-line pattern. In between the quilt sandwich is a fused piece of white batting. Facings of white fabric were added on all four sides. Even though this art piece is so tiny I decided it deserved to have its own hanging sleeve and label. Notice how very little space is not covered by the facings, hanging sleeve and label! So tiny!
Item # 2 of 5
Now let’s move on to the second art piece in the series. My second entry has been named Freeway, AP # 41. Here again my husband provided the inspiration for the little guy’s name. As soon as I showed it to him he was reminded of the multi-level bridges we see during our travels to our lcitw (little cabin in the woods). I have to admit that I didn’t quite grasp his reference until he pointed out the areas that drew his attention.
Freeway, AP # 41
Freeway, AP # 41 Back
The horizontal, fabric pieced strips reminded him of the bridges that crisscross over each other. Once he pointed them out I had to agree with his assessment.
Freeway is slightly larger than Alleyway. This one measures 9 1/2” long and 7 1/2” wide. It too was sandwiched with a fusible white batting, surrounded on all four sides with white facings, a hanging sleeve and a label. Using white thread I quilted the art piece with straight lines.
Art Piece # 3 of 5
Next up is AP # 42 called “Where’s the Seeds?”
Where’s the Seeds?, AP # 42
Where’s the Seeds?, AP # 42 Back
I know the name is a bit strange but I didn’t choose this one either. How’s that for passing the buck! LOL! Once again I enlisted the help of my husband
As you can see from the left photo this specimen has a fairly large piece of a watermelon colored fabric. This material reminded my husband of watermelon. Watermelon typically has black seeds and the watermelon colored fabric did not. The lack of black seeds is the reason for the name. While the name is unusual I can totally relate to his reasoning. In fact, I think it’s pretty creative. I always ask him to share his first thought and that’s what he did.
“Where’s the Seeds?” measures 19 1/2” long and 15 3/4” wide. The quilt top is sandwiched with a layer of Warm & Natural batting and is backed by a white cotton fabric. The raw outer edges are protected by a white binding. On the back is a hanging sleeve made from the same white cotton as well as a white label.
Art Piece # 4 of 5
Moving on we will now focus our attention on Light House, AP # 43.
Light House, AP # 43
Light House, AP # 43 Back
At first glance you will notice that I treated this art piece a little differently. Rather than using only white fabric to surround the central portion of my piece I decided to use three different borders. The first is the same watermelon colored fabric that took center stage in the previous art piece. The second border is white cotton and the outer-most border is a flavor of lilac. There really isn’t any special reason for the multiple borders other than I thought they really added pizzaz.
Light House, AP # 43 measures 19” long and 15 7/8” wide. The quilt sandwich consists of the quilt top, a layer of fusible white batting and a very snazzy, multi-colored batik. I used the backing fabric to protect the quilt’s raw edges with a facing. Also made from the same material is the hanging sleeve and the binding around my label.
Everything except the outer most border was quilted with white thread. I used a variegated thread for the purple. The center section and the first border were treated as one piece. They were quilted with a vertical back and forth straight line stitch.
In the white border I did almost the same thing. I started the stitch path in the bottom left corner and worked my way all around, never stopping to cut my thread. The last border received yet another version of lines. As you can see, in the photo, I stitched parallel lines in both the top and bottom edges. The two remaining sides were treated slightly different. For those the stitching originated from the outside edge, moved in toward the center, swung down to the bottom and then back out to the outer edge.
By now you are probably wondering if I plan on sharing the reason for the art piece’s name. Do you actually think I would leave those details out! Of course not! 🙂 I bet you are assuming that I asked my husband to name this one too. Well, you are wrong. For this piece I posted a photo on our family iMessage feed asking for suggestions. My middle daughter, Ms. J shared her two cents. She thought the two strips made from multiple small scraps reminded her of a light house. I thought her suggestion was a great idea so that’s what I went with.
# 5 of 5
The last and final member of my series is known as City Condos, AP # 44. Now this one I can take full credit for the name. The segments that make up the center, or main section of my piece remind me of the shipping containers people have been converting into housing. Stacked on top of one-another they made me think of condos in the city.
City Condos measures 21 3/8” long and 13 7/8” wide. This is the largest of the five pieces. It’s also made from the leftover remnants of the other four.
City Condos, AP # 44
City Condos, AP # 44 Back
City Condos has a fusible white batting in the center. On the back is a layer of white cotton. From the right photo you can tell that I used a white facing to finish off the edges, create a hanging sleeve and a label.
I treated this art piece with a very simple straight line quilting pattern using a plain white thread. I believe the parallel quilting lines help to reinforce my corrugated shipping container vision.
My series reveal simply wouldn’t be complete without a family photo. Here’s a group shot of all five pieces in my first original art piece series.
I had a great time creating these five pieces. My goal was to attempt to consume the remaining challenge fabric. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do that. I still have some of the material left. Who knows when and where it will show up next. It will be a surprise for both of us.
Thank You for sharing this time with me. I’m glad we had the opportunity.
There is a local fabric store that is celebrating their first anniversary in business. To honor this anniversary they have offered a challenge. The challenge is to create a quilt measuring no larger than 20” x 20”. The deadline to submit entries is March 31, 2018. All projects must include this fabric.
So How Come?
Sound familiar? Sure it does! It is almost identical to the challenge I am running on this blog.
So how did I let myself get involved in another Mystery Challenge? I have frequented this store many times to search out fabrics for my ongoing projects. Their inventory includes many unusual prints which makes them a great resource. I’ve often been able to find just the right item to fit my needs. I also receive their newsletters.
In one of their emails they shared information about their upcoming anniversary as well as the opportunity to participate in their Mystery Challenge. As incentive to encourage participation they are offering cash prizes. The thought of winning cash probably draws people in but there is a small catch…an entrance fee. It’s not incredibly expensive. Just makes the cost of a fat quarter a bit much if one doesn’t follow through with the challenge.
The chance of winning money, surprisingly, is not my reason to join. The fabric wasn’t the draw either because I’m not particularly fond of the print or the colors. Gaining exposure through the judging process is what drew my attention. After tossing the idea around in my head, over and over again, I finally decided to take a leap. So here I am creating another project.
improvisation challenges you to rethink your common practices
Those were only a few of the words Sherri uses to describe improv. She also describes improv in this way:
Commitment on the Edge of the Unknown (page 97)
Where Should I Start?
The best place to start with a book is usually at the beginning. Like most books Sherri’s is divided into chapters, or scores, as she refers to them. I have read Sherri’s book from cover to cover many times. Many of the processes in her book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously are very familiar to me. The scores on curved piecing were the most intriguing though. Having already been exposed to the others I have decided to skip ahead and jump right into the fire. I’m going to begin with the “unknown.”
Score # 9
Using Sherri’s book as my inspiration I am going to follow her “Score # 9” to create my first “curved piece.” This will be a learning experience and a great opportunity to expand my horizons. So, let’s get started.
My first task was to harvest fabrics from my inventory to pair with the assigned fabric. I pulled some pinks, greens, oranges and blues. The focus fabric has hints of lime green incorporated in the pattern. Since lime green is one of my favorites I made sure that color was included.
I used my camera to take both color as well as mono photos of my fabrics to analyze them for their values. My hope was to achieve a well-rounded selection from the start.
Twisted Threads Colors Selection
Twisted Threads Mono Tones
Here’s how my color choices stacked up.
After choosing my fabrics it was time to get the construction process started.
Let’s Cut Fabric
I didn’t exactly follow Sherri’s instructions to a tee. She suggests using a scissors rather than a rotary cutter. I tried doing that but wasn’t fond of how my strips turned out. It is possible that if I had my scissors sharpened I may have been more successful. Not wanting to be bothered with that now I chose to use my rotary cutter. Keeping that sharp is much easier. I also used a ruler. Sherri believes in cutting her fabrics free-hand but once again I wasn’t pleased with that outcome either. Aren’t I a rebel!
I created many sets of wedge strips; here’s one of them.
Below is a larger selection.
Next I stitched groupings of wedge strips together.
Notice all the pins. Sherri uses loads of pins to temporarily hold her wedge strips together. This makes it easier to keep the strips aligned while stitching. Of course each pin is removed just before the needle reaches it. The more pins the better.
This is what a strip looked like after it was stitched but before it was pressed open.
I made multiple sets of wedge strips using different arrangements of fabric. The photo above shows some of them.
Composing A Design
After building my inventory of wedge strips it was time to start composing a design. I placed all of the strip sets on my design wall and played around with different arrangements. As I found groupings that I liked I took them to my sewing machine to stitch them together. Many times the attaching of the strips meant there were sections that needed removing. Those were trimmed using my rotary cutter. The removed strips were saved and added in new areas.
The whole process of pinning, stitching and trimming went on for hours. Each adjustment or addition changed my piece in dramatic ways.
Once I had a design that I was happy with I auditioned various fabrics to use for the background. I even enlisted the help of my hubby to narrow down the options. He had many great insights to share. I guess he’s been listening to me after all! 🙂 With a background chosen I was ready to proceed with the quilting.
I decided to fuse my design to the background fabric. Before doing so I turned under the raw edges 1/4” and pressed them in place. Next I hand stitched the outer edge to my background with a dark purple thread. Once my wedge design was securely fastened I used a variegated yellow thread to quilt it. On the background fabric I echoed around my center design with a matching, variegated purple thread.
After the quilting was complete I trimmed off the excess fabric; remember my piece couldn’t be larger than 20” x 20”. The raw edges were then protected by facings. A label and hanging sleeve were also added. This is how my piece looked when it was finished.
I’m sure you have probably noticed, from the labels on the photos above, that I have given this piece the name Twisted Threads. As I was creating my piece the process of cutting and turning the various groupings every direction brought to mind a vision of twisted threads. Twisted Threads then seemed like the natural choice for a name so that’s where the name came from.
Part of creating art is the evaluation process that comes at the end. On page 20 Sherri says:
Never judge a work as good or bad.
Instead she recommends that you
evaluate your work in a non-judgmental way.
She uses these questions to evaluate her pieces:
What surprised me?
What did I discover or learn?
What was satisfying about the process or outcome?
What was dissatisfying?
If dissatisfied, what can I do differently next time to be more satisfied?
Where do I want to go from here?
I found the process of creating my curved art piece challenging and interesting all at the same time. The steps taken to make the wedged strips was fun to follow. I enjoyed seeing how the different color combinations changed with the addition of new strips. Stitching the curved pieces together was the area that stretched me the most. Merging the concave edges with those that were convex is what tried my patience. This was a much slower process than I was used to but its results were far more rewarding.
If you had asked me right after I had finished my curved piece if I would be making another I probably would have said, “No!” Now that I have had some time to evaluate my experience and think about what I would do differently, my answer would be, “You Bet!”
As I stated earlier, merging the curved edges together into one was the most challenging. To help make the process easier in the future I would strive to create gentler curves. The curves with the more pronounced angles were the hardest to manage. If those were eliminated the experience would be much less stressful.
I also would resist the temptation to use up all of the trimmed-off segments. My piece, as it turned out, has so many different angles merging into one another. Each one of those sections is screaming for attention. If I had added breathing-room via the use of solid colors I believe my piece would have been much more relaxing to look at.
Moving forward I would like to improve my skills for the techniques that I have learned. I’d also like to explore the addition of bias strips as a means of adding negative space. My next attempt at creating a curved piece will most likely be on a larger scale. There will be no need to stay within the 20” x 20” dimensions.
There’s my evaluation. Time now to enter my project in the contest.
I am always so thankful for your visits and the wonderful comments you share. Your participation is very much appreciated!