It finally came!
My own copy of American Patchwork & Quilting arrived this week! Have you gotten yours yet???
I am super excited because this issue features the Round Robin Rebels quilts. And this is the week we all get to share my quilt!
Playing With Crayons....
If you have not been following along, you may want to go back and read our previous posts, just to get lowdown on the "rules" we set and how we approached this quilt project.
When we started this round robin, I had panic attacks trying to come up with an idea for my center block. I felt that the expectations were so high and there was no way I was ever going to live up to them..... I had so many doubts and came close to backing out many times before I finally decided that I could not bail because I had no excuse except my own fears and insecurities.
So I forged ahead, trying to come up with something that I thought would be worthy. After several months of tossing around different ideas, I kept circling back to a phrase that I couldn't get out of my head.....
Color outside the lines.
It just seemed to fit the whole concept of why we wanted to do this. As designers, we wanted to do something that was for ourselves.... to create with no expectations and without trying to please the masses.... To stretch ourselves creatively and get outside of our comfort zone.
My idea was to make a simple center block that could be built upon and taken however the remaining designers wanted to take it. I knew that I wanted to use brighter colors paired with grays and creams, so I began sorting through my stash, making trips to the quilt shops, buying all sorts of fabrics that caught my eye and were not typically "me". What I ended up with was way more than the 20 fat quarters I was supposed to have.
But because I wanted to follow the rules (oh, if I had only known that no one else was following them!) I whittled it down to just 20 that I thought would give everyone a nice assortment to choose from.
Stenciling the center block....
Even though I love applique, I decided to paint the letters on the center square, just to do something different and to avoid applique and turning the edges under on the skinny letters. For this, I used Shiva Paintstiks, which are oil based sticks of paint that look almost like a huge crayon. If you have never heard of these or used them, here is a quick overview of how I do it.
First, trace the pattern onto the dull side of freezer paper.
Using small scissors with an extra fine, sharp tip, carefully cut the design out. Keep in mind that you are making a stencil, where the fabric is protected by the stencil (in this case, the freezer paper) and the paint is applied through the open area (the portion of the freezer paper that has been cut away). Use a warm dry iron to temporarily adhere the freezer paper to the fabric.
Smear a little paint on a styrofoam plate, kinda like coloring with a large crayon.
Load some paint onto a blunt stencil brush using a circular motion. (I have a collection of brushes ranging in size from 1/8" to 3/4"). Then, using the same circular motion, apply the paint to the fabric in the open areas of the stencil. Mix, blend, shade..... you have total control over how it turns out and the look you want.
A few things to note..... Because I love to mix colors, I can seldom reproduce the exact color of an area, so I try to paint everything that I want with that specific color at the same time.
I also like to add shading by using a very small stencil brush and black paint along the edges. Because this is an oil based paint, it takes a while to dry, allowing plenty of time to blend and mix colors to get the effect I want. I start with a light coating of paint and just keep adding colors until I like the way it looks. :-)
The freezer paper can simply be peeled off when the painting is finished and can even be reused several times.
Oh, and in case you were wondering about the peace symbol in there.... if you know me very well, you know that I have this thing for the peace sign but have never worked it into a quilt. I looked at this as my opportunity to add a little "peace" to the project, because like I said before, this one was for ME!!
Ok, so enough about that.... I felt that I needed to make it look like an actual center block and wanted to accentuate the lines surrounding the words with a softer, more circular feel around the whole thing. So I drew this cool border for it, only to realize that none of the angles were typical ones that could be cut with standard rulers. Yes, I tend to make the simplest things difficult, and yes, I ended up making templates and cutting the pieces that way. Then I had the challenge of figuring out how to line them up to piece them together.
But I got it all together and felt it needed a little more color and spunk, so I added a little bird and a flower overlapping the "line" around the words, just to keep with the feeling of coloring outside the lines. Then I boxed it up and sent it on its' way to Kari.
And so began the wait....
which was longer than the four months that we had originally planned for this project, because we ended up doing the big reveal at Meridith Corp, home of American Patchwork and Quilting. This trip in and of itself was an incredible experience for me, not only because I got to visit APQ, but because I got to spend the entire weekend with these incredible ladies. I flew to Minneapolis (being the only one that didn't live in Minnesota) where we all piled in a van to drive and shop our way to DesMoines. To say that we had a blast is a bit of an understatement!
Our first morning there was the big "reveal" when we were each blindfolded while our quilt was being pulled out and held up. The awe that I'm sure we all felt when we took off the blindfold to see our quilt was far beyond anything I could have imagined! With no preconcieved notions of what I thought the quilts would look like, I can honestly say that I was at a loss for words.
I loved what everyone had added to my quilt and was so excited. But at the beginning of this round robin project we had agreed to work on final borders together, since we each had a portion of ourselves invested in all of the quilts. Oddly enough, after all of the quilts were shown, mine was the only one that we felt would benefit from an additional round. The consenus was to add a colorful pieced piano key border with rounded corners and applique a black triangle in the center of these borders. The idea was that it would pull things together with more color on the outer edge and that the black triangles would mimic the inner border.
We played with the extra fabric we had taken with us.....
...did some brainstorming about how to effectively get the look we were going for and what was the best way to sew the borders on....
And eventually ended up making a trip out to another quilt shop to add some fabric. We then spent the afternoon together, cutting and sewing to try to get the borders done. This was a fantastic exercise for me because like many designers, I work alone, which means that I have very few opportunities to see techniques and methods that are different than mine. And let me tell you, when four designers get together and all of them are trying to accomplish the same thing, it is amazing how different they all approach it!
This is what we finally ended up with at the end of the day. We ran out of time to attach the borders, but we packed up and headed back home with the intention of me stitching the borders on myself.
But after I got home, I sat and stewed about what we had done.... Was it too much? Did it really enhance the quilt? Or was it just a distraction? And the more I thought about it, the less I was convinced that I wanted to add it. I was also very hesitant to actually stitch it on, which is usually my gut telling me that it just isn't right. So I hung it on my design wall and stared at it for a couple days. And it stared back. Until several days later, it just hit me... Why not work with what was already there instead of adding more? I cut a few black triangles and laid them on the existing border to see what would happen.
Those simple black triangles added between the half circles helped to not only define their shapes, but they also made the colors pop. I felt like it was such a better solution than what we had done together. But what would the others say if I didn't add the borders we had worked on? It was supposed to be a joint effort and here I was, changing my mind, making a decision on my own. So I did what any (in)sane person would do.... I snapped a picture of my idea and sent a message to the others, asking their opinion and how they would feel about it if I didn't use the borders we had worked on together. And I can't tell you how happy I was to get answers back from all of them saying "Go for it!"
In hindsight, I think we were all running on adreniline and feeling a bit fried during our weekend together. And when you add in the pressure of four tired brains trying to come up with an idea and implementing it all in one day.... well let's just say that it may not have been our best plan.
So I simply added the black triangles as applique and finished the quilt with black binding. This is the final result....
At the same time, I didn't want to just discard what we had worked so hard on together for the borders. So I took portions of the border strips and pieced them into the back, so it is almost like I have a reversible quilt.... a little fun and whimsical on one side with a little modern twist on the other.
I have to admit that this is by far my favorite quilt in the house. It tells a story. It has the heart of each of us embedded in every stitch and I love it!
I would love to hear your thoughts on our quilts and round robin projects in general, so leave a comment if you have something to share.
Now, don't forget to check out the other Round Robin Rebels blogs to see their thoughts and what they each added to make my quilt complete.
Terry Atkinson (Atkinson Designs)
Kari Carr (New Leaf Stitches)
Gudrun Erla (GE Designs)
And don't forget you can see the whole story in the Feb. 2014 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting and check out the video interviews and additional stuff at allpeoplequilt.com.
Come back next week for our stories on the final quilt in this series!