I participated in my first ever challenge this past summer.
Our awesome, new quilt shop, The Crazy Cousin, presented a challenge to the customers based on the book:
The purpose here is to take a block that has been sitting in great-auntie's hope chest waiting to be turned into a quilt, and re-purposing it. We were each given this block and were to derive inspiration from the block and make a wall hanging-sized quilt from it. Rhonda, our shop-keeper, told us ours needed to be 24x24"
I had this block loitering on my sewing table for a few months.
I think I received the block in April, and if you remember, April was my bluest month - the month leading up to taking Dominique to the convent. The only thing I was able to do in April was to sketch and make my quilt guild name tag and and I sketched a few options for this block. My name tag ended up being fabulous, so I figured I ought to stick with my inspiration for this block as well. I came up with two scenarios: an umbrella or a bird bath. I really wanted to incorporate a cat or two in my scene somewhere.
I've never 'designed' anything like this before and was a little surprised at myself when I realized - duh
that had to come up with a background! I decided to use some of my Sue Spargo inspiration. She uses a lot of muted background: tone on tone, mixing fibers, which makes her Dancing Birds take the focus. She has had us use linens on the wools which the more I thought about linen, the more I liked the loose 'watery' effect it has. But I didn't really want to spend a ton of money on yardages of linen if I ended up not using it. So I hit a thrift store and bought four linen blazers of varying neutral shades and weave for $2.00 each. Can't beat that!
I then used the lining from the blazer to give the scene a horizon and to act as the 'puddle' the cats were sitting in. I liked how the shininess of the nylon looked 'wet'. I auditioned a few different borders, and up to this minute was planning on making the kitties out of wool. I really wanted to show off some of my fabulous Sue Spargo wool and stitching skills.
I ended up choosing the border on the left, just the green and blue 'bursts'. I began auditioning different wools to make the cats out of and nothing was popping. At all. It was very boring in fact. I threw down some blue and green cotton and LOVED how it all came together. So now I was looking at needle-turn applique for the umbrella as well as the cats. Oh well.
The pattern for the cats was really probably my biggest hurdle. I do not draw well. At all. For months I sketched cats, google-imaged cats, sought out cartoon cats. Nothing was inspiring me. Then I noticed one day there was a drawing that was always in my way.
Gracie had drawn this a year or so ago. It was literally, like I said, always in my way. I'd just not managed to 'file' it away. I stopped and looked at the simple lines - I can applique this! I traced it, blew it up, reversed it and voila! Two awesome cats!
Well. One awesome cat and one awesome cat helper...
Here we are! Two awesome cats, tails wrapped around the umbrella pole.
I quilted the background to look like rain pinging off the umbrella and the ground. Quilted the puddle to look like they were sitting in the water. I used my Sue Spargo threads to outline the cats and the umbrella - a little wool to do their eyes and collars. A few buttons were added and here they are!
This was on display at Rhonda's shop for the last two months. Customers were invited to vote for their favorite. I did not win, but the competition was quite amazing.
I enjoyed the creative process, but boy does it take a while! My biggest obstacle is to stop second guessing myself! How many hours did I spend just staring?