Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Challenge Quilt Done!

Remember my primary goal for last week? Familiar with Murphy's Law? All I really needed to do was finish a small quilt in time to mail it on Friday, but as Gilda Radner's character, Rosanna Rosanna Dana would say, "It's always somethin'." Wednesday night, the dog had a close encounter with a skunk, and Friday night she managed to hurt her front leg or shoulder enough that I thought she was having a seizure or stroke the way she was whining and staggering. Up a lot of the night with her, running her to the vet on Friday to make sure nothing radical was wrong, and coddling her way too much. Pretty soon I realized that yes, she hurt, but maybe not as much as she was letting on. Yup, she was playing me a bit once she figured out which behaviors brought out the worried mom in me. Needless to say, it was hard to concentrate on finishing up the quilt, but finish I did, and off it went yesterday, 3rd day UPS.

So back to the quilt. As you may recall, this is what I started with: A piece of my hand painted & sunprinted fabric & three commercial challenge fabrics. Go here for my first thoughts of how I might incorporate them into my design.

This is my view that became the design inspiration. It is looking more or less east towards the "long bridge" that crosses the lake to Sandpoint.

And here is the finished project, called "Far From the Midwest Prairie."

I fused the bridge, leaves and orange/yellow cloud-sun using Lite Steam-a-Seam 2. It's not as stiff as regular Steam-a-Seam and the edges of the fabric do not have to be stitched to prevent raveling or pulling up from the fabric. It doesn't gum up the needle either so I had no problem running quilting stitches through it. I also stitched around the sunprinted leaf shapes. I used a variety of threads in the quilting, including Oliver Twist Hand-dyed cotton thread, Sulky variegated rayon thread, Sulky twist rayon thread and Madiera solid rayon thread.

As for the large tree, it was helping to extend the width of the piece to comply with the contest minimum measurement; I didn't want to fuse it because not all of the trunk would be on top of another fabric. I ended up, like I so often do, combining two different methods to come up with my own hybrid version.

I started with Sharon Malec's method of cutting the shape from freezer paper and ironing it to the right side of the fabric. Then I trimmed leaving about 1/4" seam allowance. At this point, Sharon would have you apply glue stick to the wrong side of the seam allowance and roll it to the back, using the edge of the freezer paper as a guide. If there were overlapping parts to the pattern, you'd continue to prepare each piece, gluing in place until you had a complete free-standing applique. The final step is to remove the freezer paper and stitch over all the turned edges with invisible thread.

I'd watched a friend use this method of building up applique, and although it has its merits, working with that glue is a messy proposition. So I wondered if I could just iron the seam allowance to the back like Karen Eckmeier does with her Accidental Landscapes method. I'd tried this in a journal quilt and was surprised at how well it worked with gentle curves. Add the freezer paper pattern on top as a guide for a less accidental tree shape, and I should have the best of both worlds. And it worked! I only had to clip in a few places to get a good turn. Removed freezer paper, pinned to background fabric (or I could have used dots of Roxanne Glue-Baste-It) and zigzagged in place with the monofilament thread.

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