Overlay: A Riley Blake Challenge Quilt

Overlay is the quilt I created using the Rockstar line from Riley Blake fabrics for the Modern Quilt Guild challenge last Spring.

Overlay front view

I focused on the red and white prints because I liked the idea of using such a classic color combination (such as the popular red & white quilt exhibition!) in contemporary prints.  The design of the quilt also embraced the juxtaposition of classic and contemporary.  The first step for this project was to make a traditional quilt top using a Flock of Geese block.

Assembled Blocks for Overlay

Once the top was complete, I started deciding which areas would be obstructed by the circular overlays.  To assist with this process, I made circles from printer and craft paper so I could experiment with scale.

Overlay Placement 1

Overlay Placement 2

Once the right scale was achieved, I used the paper pieces as templates to cut the fabric pieces.

Overlay Placement 3

After determining the final layout, I cut corresponding circles from quilt top that had a radius 1/2″ smaller.  Then I machine pieced in the circles- thats right- there is NO APPLIQUÉ in this quilt!

For me, the quilting is where my vision really comes to life.  I wanted the texture to tell the story of the quilt even in the sections where the overall pattern is obscured by the circles.  For example- if you were to paint a mural on a brick wall, the color changes with the design, but the underlying texture remains the same.  In this quilt, the Flock of Geese design is carried through the entire quilt top using the quilting.

Overlay front detail

Where the white portions of the Flock of Geese block would fall, vertical matchstick quilting is used. In the red areas, organic mixed motif quilting is used.  The thread color matches each fabric used on the front of the quilt.

Overlay Back

The back of the quilt is a mix of red, white, and aqua Riley Blake fabrics.  A facing finishes the edges of the quilt so there is no visual border trying to contain the circles that appear to float off the edge.

Overlay Back Detail

On the back of the quilt, you can really see some of the thread color changes that blend in on the front of the quilt.

I was able to enter this quilt into the county fair, and it received a first place and a best of division award!

Overlay County Fair

Quilt Stats:

Title:  Overlay

Size: 47″ x 63″

Techniques:  Machine Piecing

Quilting:  Matchstick and Mixed Motif Free-motion Quilting using an A-1 Longarm

Fabric:  Riley Blake Rockstar Prints and solids on the front, assorted Riley Blake fabrics on the back

Batting:  Hobbs 80/20

Thread:  Pieced using Gutermann Mara 100, Quilted with 50wt Aurifil in three colors to match the fabrics used

Binding:  Facing in coordinating Riley Blake prints

This quilt was entered into QuiltCon 2018

Light Show: December Block of the Month

The block of the month I have been doing with Dabble and Stitch in Columbus, Ohio has been humming along, and we are now at the final block.  This design is inspired by the holiday light shows that appear this time of year, and focuses on the displays at the Columbus Zoo.

Light Show Quilt Block

This block is based on a 12 sided polygon, which is a reflection of the shape of the building which houses the historic carousel located on the zoo grounds.  The green corners creating this shape also create the suggestion of the center of an evergreen wreath.

Columbus Zoo Carousel

At the center of the zoo grounds there is a lake that is center stage to a musical choreographed light show with trees of lights floating on the water.  The blue fabric represents both the water of the lake and the night sky.  Many of the light designs constructing the trees consist of vertical stripes which are shown in the orange and violet triangles.

Light Trees on the Lake

The red and white candy cane stripe placed diagonally across the block is inspired by the lights wrapping the posts of a bridge leading to one of the buildings.

Bridge with Lights

This block is fairly easy foundation paper piecing and is done in four sections.  I absolutely love how it looks when these blocks are put together.  They create an awesome secondary pattern with stars and diagonal stripes.

Wall Quilt Layout Color

I started experimenting with some different color schemes, and I love this one that adds an extra color to the star points!

Wall Quilt Layout Color Option 2

This pattern is available through Dabble and Stitch.

Ornament Swap

An ornament swap was one of the activities the Columbus Modern Quilters scheduled for our meeting in late November.  The only rule was that our ornament must include fabric someplace in the construction.

Never one for a purely traditional color scheme, I used pink and green as the dominant colors.  The ornament was made from a large styrofoam ball that I wrapped in narrow bias cut strips of low volume white and a pink Tula Pink print, which hopefully gave it a bit of a peppermint vibe.  Lime green grosgrain serves as the hanger for the ornament, and is held in place with a few drops of glue.  (I hardly ever combine glue with fabric, but I’ll make an exception for something like this with light use that will never need washing.)

Peppermint Ornament

We were not assigned a partner ahead of time.  Instead we all wrapped our ornaments and did a version of a “bad Santa” exchange.  No two ornaments were the same.  We had a couple variations of fabric scraps enclosed in glass or plastic bulbs, some embroidered pieces, and some fabulously done fabric folding.  I absolutely love the one I received!  The feather piecing is gorgeous, and I’ll be able to display it in my sewing space all year round!

Feather Ornament

Botanical Wonders

The Columbus Museum of Art currently has an exhibit of lovely antique quilts with botanical themes on view through March 11, 2018.  I went to this gallery today, and thought you may enjoy seeing a few of these quilts from the 19th and early 20th century.

Botanical Wonders

  • Left:  Rosebud Wreath, 1865
  • Center:  Cockscomb Variation with Jester’s Plumes, about 1865-1885
  • Right:  Cactus Flower Variation, about 1860-1880

Cockscomb Variation

  • Cockscomb Variation, about 1860-1875

Hawaiian Quilt

  • Hawaiian Quilt, about 1925-1950

Tree of Life

  • Tree of Life, about 1945-1955

Album Quilt

  • Album Quilt, about 1850-1865

Princess Feather Medallion

  • Princess Feather Medallion with Urns of Flowers and Stuffed Work, about 1845-1855

Grapes and Vines

  • Left: Grapes and Vines, about 1925-1935
  • Right: Pink Dogwood with Butterflies, about 1925-1935

Why I Pre-wash My Quilting Fabric

I confess . . .  I’m a pre-washer.  I know that a lot of quilters prefer their fabric right off the bolt, but I feel a lot more confident about the appearance and longevity of my quilts when I know as much about my fabrics as possible before I start cutting them up.

The Big Three Reasons I Pre-Wash:

  1. The fabric will shrink before it goes into a quilt with other fabrics that may shrink at different rates
  2. If the dyes used on the fabric are going to run, I would much rather know before I put them next to other fabrics.  If a fabric bleeds a lot in the original wash, I will often wash it one or two more times.  Occasionally, there is a fabric that never stops bleeding, and I am very careful about where I will incorporate that fabric.  It may be perfectly fine in an all mid-tone quilt, but it would never be appropriate to use in a quilt with a light background.
  3. Pre-washing removes any residual chemicals or finishes that were added to the fabric during the manufacturing process.  I rarely wash my quilts immediately following the construction process, so I want it as clean as possible to start.  It also can’t hurt to make as little skin contact as possible with the residues.

One of the big downfalls that I hear about pre-washing is the tendency to have fabric ravel out.  To prevent this I stitch around the edges of the fabric prior to throwing it into the wash.  The easiest way to do this would be a serger or overlock machine, but since I don’t have one, I use my domestic machine.

You could use a zig-zag stitch to accomplish this, but my machine (as well as most other zig-zag machines) have a special stitch for this.  This stitch is called the Vari-overlock stitch in my machine manual, and it is recommended for stretch fabrics, but it works great for edging other fabrics as well.  The foot for this has a slender piece of metal that is zig-zagged over while it holds the edge of the fabric flat and prevents the fabric from rolling.

Fabric Edging Process

The stitch itself is a series of short straight stitches followed by zig-zag stitch.  You can make the stitch have tighter spacing by reducing stitch length.  I use approximately a two stitch length for edging fabric for washing.  When I use this technique for finishing edges on clothing, pillows, etc. I shorten the stitch length.

Fabric Edging Finished

How do you feel about pre-washing fabric?