Saturday, December 31, 2016

Blue Ribbon Dreams

     In late October, I happened upon an August announcement of a quilt challenge, the Quilt the Blues Challenge, which required the purchase of a bundle of fabrics.  Since retiring at the end of June, and then traveling to Scotland in July, Hartford in August, White Plains in September and Princeton and Sarasota in October, I decided that a quilt challenge would be a good project for November! 
      The packet of blue fabrics arrived while I was in Florida, and I had to quickly come up with a plan in order to finish by the December 1 deadline.   I wasn't really fond of many of the fabrics - too grey, too ditzy, or too old fashioned floral-ly.    I used my camera settings to try to better guage the fabric values.  

     My design was to be a woven one, making ombre ribbons from the fabric selections.  I wanted to create four different ribbons, each using four of the 16 fabrics, arranging them dark to light, so the ribbons would read as the same.   I wanted a bold graphic pattern, and decided on an offset design. 
I ended up flipping the design so the ribbon ends were on the bottom and right edges of the quilt. 
     I don't have a computer design program, so I use graph paper and colored pencils to design.  I used my hand drawn pattern to calculate how many squares of each type I needed (and ended up making some adjustments at the end!)   I cut 2 1/2 inch strips to begin.  I used Kona white as the first of the allowed accent colors. 

Chester the Cat, assisting
     I sewed the strips into the distinct "ribbons", then cut into the sections to create the 12 inch finished blocks.

 I had to use my portable design wall to keep track of the woven pattern.
      Again, I used my camera settings to check on the consistency of the "ombre" look.
     I doing my checking, I discovered that I had sewn a few of the greyish strips with the back side showing. I was able to take out those pieces, and turn them around. 

     I made the ribbon ends from the remaining pieces, and the length was determined by how much fabric I had left! 
    It was very difficult to see the pattern when I was putting the blocks on the design wall, but from a distance, I thought I achieved the bold graphic look I was aiming for.
      I quilted the top on my Tiara II, using a free form line with occasional bubbles following the "grain" of the "ribbon".   I used a blue variegated Aurifil for the quilting on the "ribbon" portion.  I used a meandering stitch with bubbles for the white portions of the quilt, using a white Aurifil thread on the top.   I found quilting lengthy lines pretty challenging on the Tiara II.  More practice is needed! 

     I had some yardage of a nice golden umbrella print to use for the back, and used a gold Aurifil thread in the bobbin so the stitching would blend in.  I used a Kona Curry solid for the binding.  

     I got the quilt done and submitted in time, and got the acknowledgement that the submission had gone through.  I never heard anything more, and since finalists were going to be notified in mid-December, I guess I didn't make the cut.    Oh well - while some type of feedback would have been nice, I got a nice quilt out of it and a pattern I can fiddle around with!  The final quilt top finished at 60 1/2 x 72 1/2, but after quilting and washing, the final dimensions were 57 1/2 by 68 1/2.   

     2016 has been quite a year.   I am in the process of making a list of quilt goals for 2017, which will include some quilts for new babies expected in my extended family, and a good clean out of my burgeoning fabric stash.  I intend to update this blog more regularly!    May 2017 bring good quilts, and peace to all!  

Happy New Year!