National Backwards Day!

Today, January 31 is National Backwards Day!  I decided to celebrate by taking a closer look at the back of some quilts and quilt tops.

The backs of quilt tops hardly ever get the glory that they deserve.  Here are some hand appliquéd circles . . .

Circle Applique back

And some machine pieced circles . . .

Stroll back

I love when the quilting transfers the design of the quilt to the back of the project.

Row by Row Back

 

Overlay Back

Franklin Park back

 

Sometimes the design isn’t completely transferred to the back of the quilt, but you can get a general idea of the quilt front.

Customer Quilt back

Pin Mini back

 

Occasionally I do simple, light quilting . . .

Simple Mini Quilt BackBut more often it’s heavy quilting that shows on the back of my quilts . . .  (these two mini quilts are the same design)

Star Block Back

 

Recently I even tried out using doubled batting, which really made the quilting design pop on the back of the quilt (as well as the front).

Secret Sewing Quilt Back

I frequently love the backs of quilts as much as the front!

 

Scatter

The same afternoon that I made the 9 Patch Circle Quilt, I also created Scatter.  I wanted to explore the visual effect of all-over organic placement of the circles compared to the more regimented placement seen in the 9 Patch Circle Quilt.

Scatter front

This is another “sketch” quilt, so prior to quilting the circles are held in place only through the use of Wonder Under fusible web.

Scatter progress 1

The quilting plays the starring role in this mini quilt.  It is a good thing that the quilt is small- even at this side I had an hour of active stitching time!  I selected a very dark 50wt thread to define the edges of the circles.  It reminds me of dark ink on paper painted with bright dots.

Scatter progress 2

For the background quilting, I wanted to define the space with a strong organic design that would echo the primary circles without overshadowing them.  Using white thread on the white background fabric to do the same stitching technique fit this need and it catches the light nicely, not to mention it feels amazing to touch!

Scatter detail

The edges are finished with a simple facing.  I love that the back creates a neutral version of the design!

Scatter back

Quilt Stats:

Title:  Scatter

Size: 18″ x 18″

Techniques:  Fused Applique

Quilting:  Free motion quilting using an A-1 Longarm

Fabric:  Assorted solids on a Kona Snow background with Kona Snow backing

Batting:  Hobbs 80/20

Thread:  Quilted with a variety of 50wt Aurifil

Binding:  Facings to match the quilt background and backing

9 Patch Circles

I love using colorful thread.  There is a good chance that you have gathered that if you have seen much of my work.  I also have a tendency to use it the most in matchstick quilting.  In the last few weeks I had been contemplating how I could infuse a quilt with colorful thread in an abstract way without using straight lines.  Ultimately the idea of circles took over.

9 Patch Circle front

This mini quilt is mostly a sketch to explore a quilting technique, so I kept the construction process as simple as possible.  Prior to quilting the circles were all held in place with Wonder Under fusible web and the small size (15″ square) made it really easy to throw on the longarm to quilt.

9 Patch Circles process

The quilting thread matches the fabrics and then infuses color into the adjoining fabric.  The color of the outermost section of the concentric circle flows out into the background through the quilting.  I stuck with 50wt thread for this because I wanted to make a lot of lines over a small area, and didn’t want too much thread build up.  I decided to emphasize the grid configuration of the circles and juxtapose the dominant curves of the circles with some straight lines.  Some simple, white matchstick quilting between the rows and columns of dots accomplishes this goal.  The quilting on this took about an hour, but most of that was thread changes :)

9 Patch Circle detail

The quilt is finished with a simple facing that matches the backing fabric.  I love using a solid backing on a quilt with lots of thread colors to show off all of that work.

9 Patch Circles back

Quilt Stats:

Title:  9 Patch Circles

Size: 15″ x 15″

Techniques:  Fused Applique

Quilting:  Free motion quilting using an A-1 Longarm

Fabric:  Assorted solids on a Kona Snow background with Kona Snow backing

Batting:  Hobbs 80/20

Thread:  Quilted with a variety of 50wt Aurifil

Binding:  Facings to match the quilt background and backing

Improv Trees

This weekend I had the opportunity to teach my first improvisational piecing class at Dabble and Stitch in Columbus, Ohio.  And it happened to be one of my all-time favorite improv inspirations- winter trees!  Talk about being perfect for this time of year!  In the sample piece I used a lot of bright colors.

Improv Trees Sample

I love using unexpected fabrics for the trees, especially irregular stripes or splotches.  We spent the first part of class selecting fabrics, and the students made fabulous selections!  Here are a couple student projects.  I tend to get pretty wrapped up in the class itself and forget to take photos, but I can assure you that there was a lot of awesomeness going on!

For the tree fabric strips she selected a print of trees!  Don’t you love how the print looks all cut up?

Improv student process shot

Here is a finished top.  The tree fabric used in this one was a popular choice and looked terrific with a bunch of different backgrounds.

Improv student project

 

I really hope I have the chance to teach this class again!  If you would like to see another example and read more about the process, please check out another improv trees mini quilt I did awhile ago.

Crystalized Citrus: A Hoffman Challenge Quilt

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!