Monday, October 6, 2014

XLV: The Inside Scoop

In case you wanted a little more detail about my process for creating XLV, here goes.


Wooed by the phenomenal prize package and the desire to be featured in such a prestigious and well-respected magazine, I began envisioning design ideas and sketching. When I pondered the idea of a journey, the cover illustration of Oh, the Places You'll Go! came to mind. 



I decided to play upon the metaphor of a narrow mountain path as a upward journey. I drew a peak with an encircling path which I intended to divide into 45 quilt blocks. With further sketching, I elected to remove the mount, and leave behind a string of diminishing blocks coiled into the form of a peak. The blocks facing the viewer would be have a high color intensity, while those on the back side of the strip would appear more transparent.


I showed the design to my father, the architect, who suggested the incline could be more accurately conveyed if I employed the use of engineering software or a scaled representation built from ribbon and string. I retrieved my gift wrap supplies and created a model. I determined that artistic liberties would have to be taken because the laws of physics would not submit to my intentions, shortly before my children repurposed the mobius model into a marionette.

I began to consider the harsh reality that my design might be mistaken for a reptillian creature, and changed course altogether. I decided to design a medallion composed of radiating circles, each featuring a repeated, hand appliqu├ęd character of the roman numeral for 45.

Carrying forth on this concept, I changed course again and decided in favor of a pieced, square design. Then, I began to translate my thoughts into measurements and an overall design using EQ7.


This led to fabric selection, cutting, and sewing. I didn't like the color scheme of my center medallion, so I made another. The original center block was acquired by my son who was working on his own quilt using scraps and a piece of batting. He wanted to participate in the challenge too, and I didn't have the heart to inform him of his age ineligibility.


The realization that the four patch border should contain 1" squares rather than 3/4" ones dawned on me. Unfortunately, this was after I made enough 3/4" half square triangles for the entire first border. I was so busy piecing, there just wasn't time for thinking! Recalculating, recutting and resewing resumed. There may have also been some excessive chocolate eating, muttering under my breath, and shedding of tears as well, but I'll never admit it.

I learned the hard way that EQ7 will draw what you've requested, even if it's mathematically impossible. See here? If you aren't like me, and you think before you piece, you might determine that nineteen 2" blocks will never ever make a 39" border. Crud! 19 1/2 four patches should do the trick though. What's that EQ7? You're not a fan of 19.5 border blocks?


I laid out my completed blocks on the floor and sewed more units, retrieved blocks I had preciously laid out from an assortment of my one-year-old's favorite hiding places, such as the bath tub and her hamper, and decided to relocate my impromptu design wall to a higher elevation.


I cursed the wretched person who decided they liked the proportions of a cross-X block that finished at 4". A saner person would have foreseen the impending doom of 4" being forced into thirds. Here's the mathematical breakdown: 4" divided into three equal sections makes one and a third. Wait a minute, there aren't any thirds on my rulers! Did I figure the sixteenth inch dashes on my trusty acrylic rulers were feeling neglected? I guess so! If this business wasn't making me go crazy enough, the points on these suckers were going to match up. Because I said so! Ooops, my stay-at-home momness just crept out a little there.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret to accuracy. This isn't a progress shot; it's my block junkyard. Creating a few extras allowed me to audition different color placements and remove blocks or units that weren't up to par.

After I concluded piecing the top, I pieced together a colorful backing, driving myself over the edge with my insistence to match up the print. Unintentionally, I integrated Dr. Seuss, after all.


I skimmed my free-motion quilting books, scrolled through my free-motion Pinterest board, and watched Angela Walters on Craftsy. Using an outline of my quilt, I drew out possible quilting ideas, and set to work.

I quilted, and then I quilted some more.


And I didn't stop until there was nothing left to quilt. Believe it or not, this is a progress shot. More quilting took place.


When I began to fear the quilt wouldn't make it to the Quilters Newsletter offices in time if I didn't ship it off, I finally concluded the final preparations of sleeve adding and labeling and hoped that I didn't leave any of the many threads hanging...

Does this resemble your process?

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20 comments:

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing your progress. Nice to be let in on other's thought process.

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed this post. I have a bad habit of getting in the zone, and forgetting to document my process, which makes it much more difficult to share. I always think I'm going to remember the measurements, steps, solutions to mishaps, etc. but I am overconfident with regard to my memory.

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  2. This makes me tired just reading it. What was the timeline for making this quilt? I love the junk yard shot, I totally do that sometimes too!

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    1. I started designing shortly after the Feb./March issue, but serious construction and quilting took place over the course of a couple months. During these months I eked out whatever time I could between snatching markers and toilet paper rolls from Linnea, and popping together train tracks and providing a steady steam of drawing paper for Bryce.

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  3. You are amazing! What a ton of work. It's simply stunning! Or should I say complicated--stunning ; )

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    1. Thank you so much. The irony is that I was trying to simplify, as opposed to the original design. I think I may have missed the mark in that regard, but it was worth it.

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  4. I am just as curious as Renee about your timeline for this project. I only have EQ5, and there are some things about it that drive me nuts, too. I like hand sketching, but you are so right that there isn't always time to do it and double (triple) check the sizing.

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    1. Designing was dispersed throughout many months, but the piecing and quilting occurred over the course of two intense months, insomuch as it was possible with my two little ones afoot and looking for trouble. I started with EQ6, but haven't noticed any tweaks to the general functionality. There were some additional features added that I could probably be putting to greater use.

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  5. Seriously Stunning! I love this. Super original and bright. Love your quilting too! Makes me want to do specialty quilting.

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    1. You should give it a try. It's really a lot of fun once you get over the original trepidation. I recommend a mini or small quilt like this one, because you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it isn't as daunting.

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  6. Stunning! Wonderful piecing and quilting!

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    1. Thank you for your sweet compliments, Cheryl.

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  7. Reading this just makes your quilt that much more impressive. Your perseverance really paid off.

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    1. Thank you. I am glad that my efforts were not in vain, especially since I called upon my gracious husband had to entertain the children more than the usual while I was in "the zone".

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  8. This is lovely, Afton! So much detail! A true piece of art!

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    1. Thanks so much. That means a lot coming from you. You have so many beautiful things coming along. I'm excited to see how they all turn out.

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  9. I can't believe the amount of work and persistence that took. It truly is amazing. And so different from your original concept (which was also very cool).

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    1. Thanks, Diana. I certainly have a habit of taking a very wandering path in my quilt planning. Persistence is a good way to put it. Many affiliate quilting with patience, but I think that is a misnomer for me personally. I'm more of the bound and determined, out of pure stubbornness, type.

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  10. So much work! So impressed that you persevered through your junk yard of blocks and your one year old's "helping". Really cool that your son also made a quilt ♡

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    1. I find that the kiddos really love helping; they just have differing ideas about what that constitutes. Recently, I let my son use my sewing machine (set to the slowest speed possible) and some scraps. He didn't go for the lining up fabric with right sides together and making a seam. Instead he insisted on overlapping each fabric and using stitching like a stapler. I can't help but admire his ingenuity.

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