Light of May hanging at QuiltCon2015
The Modern Quilt Guild, with sponsors Michael Miller Fabrics, issued a quilting challenge for QuiltCon2015. Interested MQG members received a F8 pack of Cotton Couture Spring pastel solids to work with. The rules stated you had to use ONLY Cotton Couture solids on the front of your quilt and the pastels had to be used in a recognizable amount. Any Michael Miller fabric could be used on the back of the quilt.
I rarely use pastel fabrics, let alone pastel solids! This was a real challenge. I decided to play with my Improv Under the Influence piecing technique to create wonky border units similar to the ones I used here and here. I also chose to limit myself to the fabrics in the F8 pack and only add grey. After making some sketches in my notebook, I divided the pastels into warm and cool colours and set to work with the piecing.
It had been quite a while since I made mitred corners and this quilt has 16 of them (four in each corner). Getting a mitre just right is incredibly satisfying and I think the juxtaposition of the wonky strips with the very precise mitres adds interest to this design by creating sharp edges between the warm/cool borders.
The Cotton Couture solids have a very fine hand, the lightest colours are rather transparent and the fabric doesn't have a lot of body. For this reason I spray and pin-basted the quilt before I set to quilting the entire thing in a chevron pattern with straight lines 3/8" apart. I spent an entire guild sew day quilting for about 8 hours. I happily took the quilt off the machine and my heart sank. It was warped. It was SO warped. It was SO WARPED, I knew I wouldn't be able to block it flat no matter how much steam I applied.
In the middle of each side of the quilt, there was a 2 or 3" lump. Yikes.
I lay awake all night rather unhappy with myself. I felt compelled to enter this quilt in the show since I had accepted the fabric. I was proud of this very modern, original design that I felt expressed my interpretation of the light at the beginning and ending of a clear May day in Vancouver. I knew I could not be proud of this quilt in it's current state.
So I ripped out all the quilting. It took an entire day. By 10:00 p.m., even B had a seam ripper in his hands and was helping me. Despite all of the blocking advice and encouragement I received on Instagram, I knew it could not be saved in it's current state. Doing things right is worth the effort sometimes. Ultimately the quilt lost quite a bit of the outermost borders (thank goodness I'd attached a full 10" in the first place!) due to my first attempts at squaring up prior to ripping all the quilting out.
Here we go again: basting attempt #2
I peeled the quilt off the batting. I steamed it, then fused a lightweight woven interfacing to the entire back of the quilt top to give it extra body and stability. I cut a fresh piece of batting, spray and pin-basted and stabilized all of the border seams with stitch in the ditch. I repeated the same quilting pattern and sewed more slowly and with extra care not to stretch out the quilt. It still warped, but only about a third as much as the first time. I was able to block it flat by pinning it to a carpeted floor, soaking it with water spray bottle and steaming flat. Phew. You can still see where the quilting pulled the borders out in the middle of each side, giving them a curved appearance.
I like the binding.
Hanging at QuiltCon 2015 photo credit: Felicity Ronaghan
Actually, I love the quilt and I'm really happy I took the time to create a better finished piece. I was thrilled when it was juried into QuiltCon2015. Once it was all over for the second time, I spent a lot of time putting a Juki straight stitch machine in and out of my Amazon.com cart. I just don't think the skinny little built in IDT on my Pfaff QE 4.0 is big enough to match the power of the 5 feed dogs on that machine and create good results for straight line quilting on larger projects. Le sigh.
Don't you just love how the learning never stops with quilting?