Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Marsala Quilt Challenge


Here's my quilt for the Marsala Quilt Challenge! Wasn't sure I would be able to get this done! I've been crazy busy the last couple months selling a house and moving to a new city...but I was motivated...I had already bought the fabric and I knew I would never use it for anything else! I must admit, this quilt was definitely a challenge. Let's have a show of hands, who else thought this color was completely awful? Wow...that many. :) Well I was pretty sure that whatever I made would be...um...unattractive. I really was not expecting much. But I must say, I am pleasantly surprised by the finished quilt. Guess that's what happens when you set the bar so low you can step over it! :)


The first challenge I had when making this quilt was obtaining the proper fabric color. For last year's challenge, I sauntered into Lowes, picked up the Radiant Orchid Pantone paint chip and then had no trouble finding the perfect matching fabric. This year, Lowes totally dropped the ball. By March, they still did not have the Marsala paint chip. Color of the year, people. Color of the year! Maybe they hadn't stocked the chip because they were busy questioning Pantone's color authority after seeing this year's color choice? Who knows...but they didn't have it all five times I checked. And I was not about to drop $10 to buy a swatch online. Yep, I'm cheap. So instead, I bought a few solids I thought looked close and just went with it. But now, being the selective perfectionist that I am, I'm a little bit bothered by the fact that I still don't know exactly what color Marsala really is. It looks a little different on every screen. I guess it's fitting that my camera seems to want to make every picture I take of this quilt look much brighter red than the fabric actually is in person. ((resigned sigh)) Next time, I'll just buy the dang swatch! Anyway, I debated for a while between black and navy as the accent color, and decided on navy at the last minute. At least I'm happy with that decision. :)


The next challenge...the design. Ah, the design. My process for designing quilts is kind of weird sometimes. I rarely just sit down and design a quilt. It usually takes weeks (sometimes months) for my ideas to evolve into a final design. This quilt, for example, started with me deciding that an Aztec style quilt was an acceptable use of the color Marsala. (Seen any authentic Aztec rugs lately? Quite a few of them use this color!) So I perused the internet- screen shotting pictures of Aztec bedding, shower curtains and rugs. I mocked up several strip type quilts in this style, but there was one small problem...I am not particularly drawn to the angularity of Aztec motifs, so I never came up with anything that thrilled me. But I kept hanging on to the idea because I had nothing else. Then, I saw a woman in church wearing what I found out was a Polynesian Tapa print (yes, I chased her down after the meeting and asked her if I could take a picture of her dress-and yes, I know I'm kooky).


Here's the dress...I liked the curves and repeating shapes in this design- so I looked at a bunch more Tapa prints online and tried to come up with something good. But it just wasn't working for me. So I thought about it more and finally decided to try making an Aztec style quilt with the shapes in a radiating circular layout, rather than straight strips. The idea just wasn't coming together because I was still trying to use a lot of triangles and other Aztec-y shapes. Finally, I got smart and just made the design using letters and symbols from different fonts, which I put on circular paths. One thing led to another, and I ended up with the final design. We can all thank Inkscape for this, of course. Oh, the fun there is to be had with Inkscape!! Have I mentioned that it is FREE?


Of course this little gem is completely appliqued using fusible web. I cut most of the shapes out using a Silhouette Cameo (I'm in love with that machine)! I cut this whole quilt out in a little over an hour -this is awesome because there are like 100 little pieces. Oh, and did I mention that this quilt is 30 x 39"? Yeah. So in order to place these shapes perfectly, I printed the quilt out in its actual size (it took 16 pages) and taped it all together. I laid the background fabric over the printed quilt so I had a guide for where to put the shapes. Then I ironed them on. Worked like a charm! Anyway, I finished with my usual method - blanket stitch around the shapes in matching thread.


I quilted stitch in the ditch around all the shapes and filled in the white space with different designs. When I was done I showed it to my husband and he said he thought it needed more cowbell...er...quilting. (SNL fans? Anyone?) :) So I threw it back on the frame and added a bit more. No picture, but I backed it in all the leftover reddish-brownish fabrics pieced together (because seriously, I will never use them for anything else) and bound it in the matching navy.


When it was all done, I took this little quilt out and photographed it in my new surroundings (which I totally LOVE, by the way). Now that it's done, the real question is, what the heck am I going to do with it? :) If it was in different colors it would be on my wall in two seconds flat because it really is fun to look at...hmmm...maybe I'll have to make another one. :) 

2015 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Marsala