Crystalized Citrus: A Hoffman Challenge Quilt

July 6, 2016

Crystalized Citrus is my first Hoffman Challenge quilt, and I am thrilled with the result!  I was cutting it really close time wise, so it was quite a relief when they extended the deadline by a week- it saved me a late night getting the binding on!
Crystalized Citrus full view

For many years I had seen the Hoffman Challenge quilts exhibited at the Rotary Quilt Show that coincided with the AQS show in Paducah.  It was my first introduction to the concept of a challenge quilt, and I was intrigued.  This year was the first time I was able to find the fabric in a local shop before it completely sold out, and it is the best fabric challenge print yet!  The butterfly print on the right is the required challenge fabric and the print on the left was an optional coordinate that I really liked, but didn’t end up using in the finished design.  Both of these fabrics are printed digitally so there is an almost infinite range of colors since the process isn’t limited by traditional printing processes.

Hoffman Challenge Fabric

When I’m designing with a specific print in mind, I like to alter it to see it in a new way.  I had thought about creating a “Butterfly Garden” by turning the wings into flower petals, but as I was starting the idea of vibrant citrus came to mind.  The butterfly wings turned into the flesh of the fruit and the neutral space of the print became the membranes.  I pulled a variety of prints from my stash to create the skin of the fruits.  My main goal was to keep the challenge fabric the star of the show.

Crystalized Citrus detail



I intentionally chose to balance the representational aspects of this design with the abstract.  The pieces of fruit do not overlap and the improv piecing in the flesh of the citrus doesn’t create an ultra realistic image.  These aspects of the design allowed for quilting that defies realism and creates a more abstract overall design.

The primary quilting design is matchstick quilting going both horizontally and vertically.  Most of the horizontal quilting is done in white with guest appearances from purple and the local color of each fruit to create a grounding shadow.  The color of each piece of citrus infuses the background above it with colorful vertical matchstick quilting.  Free motion quilting further defines each piece of fruit in the composition.

Crystalized Citrus


Quilt Stats

Title: Crystalized Citrus

Size: 24″x21″

Techniques:  Machine Improv Piecing, hand appliqué

Quilting:  Matchstick and free motion quilting done on my A-1 Elite longarm

Fabric:  Hoffman Crystalia digitally printed fabric in opal, assorted cotton prints and solids.

Batting:  Hobbs 80/20 cotton blend

Thread:  Pieced and appliquéd with Gutermann Mara 100 in coordinating colors, Quilted with six colors of 50wt Aurifil cotton thread

Binding:  Facing done with the same white fabric used for the background and backing of the quilt

Goal #1 is Finished!

Goal #1 is Finished!

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  • Reply
    Rochelle Summers
    July 6, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    I love the way you’ve created a deliciously bright patch of fruit using those butterfly wings. The quilting is so precise and offers a gentle touch of color to the background. Good luck in the judging.

  • Reply
    Yvonne @Quilting Jetgirl
    July 7, 2016 at 1:18 am

    Wow, Cassandra, I love how creatively you used the fabric in this challenge! The butterfly wings look just like the center of fruit.

  • Reply
    Kimberly Clark
    July 7, 2016 at 7:02 am

    I love it!!! I really like how the match stick quilting compliments the fruit and gives it your trade mark – just beautiful!!!!

  • Reply
    Angelina Kendra
    July 7, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    WOW — this is the best interpretation for a Hoffman challenge that I’ve ever seen. Great job!!

  • Reply
    July 7, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    Such a creative use of the butterfly wings for citrus! And great use of quilting to create texture, shadow and drama! Good luck!

  • Reply
    July 8, 2016 at 12:38 am

    That is so cool! Love the use of the butterfly fabric. And the quilting…it is just all very creative. Nice work. I am visiting from the Finish-Along.

  • Reply
    Rhonda Laws
    July 8, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    You are one incredible quilter with one creative mind! Congratulations on your finish! Thanks for participating in the 2016 FAL on behalf of the global hosts 🙂

  • Reply
    July 11, 2016 at 7:08 am

    Wow, that is amazing! When i saw the first picture i thought it was a watercolour!

  • Reply
    July 18, 2016 at 9:53 am


  • Reply
    Crystalized Citrus: A Blogger’s Quilt Festival Entry | The (not so) Dramatic Life
    September 26, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    […] For more about this quilt you can check out the original Crystalized Citrus post. […]

  • Reply
    October 20, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    This is such a clever quilt. The fabrics are perfectly suited. I wouldn’t have seen the inside of an orange when looking at those butterflies, but I certainly see it now! The quilting accentuates the piece so nicely too.

  • Reply
    August 2, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    beautiful! brilliant! gorgeous! thanks for sharing! 🙂

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