Challenge Quilt from a Photo

In May 2017 my husband and I took a short trip to Occidental in Redwood country in Northern California. After an afternoon of wine tasting we decided to have dinner at Hazel, a small restaurant located in downtown Occidental that serves hand prepared dishes using local ingredients.

Hazel restaurant

When I wasn't eating my roasted chicken with Yukon gold potatoes, wild arugula with a lemon vinaigrette I took some sneaky photos of the table settings. I don't know if it was the evening light combined with the white crisp tablecloths, the sparkling glassware and the pop of yellow of the flowers. But I loved the effect. The reflections in the glassware were enchanting.

Close-up

I cropped the original photo focusing in on the round yellow flowers and uploaded the photo to Instagram. My quilt friend Paula saw it and asked if she could use the image to make a quilt. I agreed and told her I intended to make one also. So we decided to both make 24" square quilts and exhibit them together at the Folsom Quilt Show and the Foothill Quilt Show in 2018. We also thought it would be fun to open the offer up to anyone else that wants to use this photo to make an art quilt.

Hazel Menu

 

So if any other quilters or people you might know are interested in making a 24 x 24" quilt just contact me and I can email you the photo image to use. It would really be fun to see different interpretations of this one photo.

So from this one photo lets see how this challenge unfurls.

My opportunity to design the 2018 Opportunity Quilt

Approximately a year ago Tamara from my local quilt guild , the Foothill Quilt Guild, asked if I was interested in designing and coordinating the making of the 2018 Opportunity Quilt. My first thought was I am always busy, do I have time for this? Then I realised it was a great "opportunity" for me to design and make a quilt that would be seen by many people locally. So I agreed. I had 10 months to get the project completed before its unveiling at the quilt show in April 2017.

I knew I wanted to make something with a modern look. I have been following the work of the new fabric and quilt designers often involved in the Modern Quilt Movement. I loved the quilt pattern Folksy Fish by Sarah Sharp who designs under the name No Hats in the House and wondered, could we make this paper pieced quilt?

 

As I rarely use a pattern, usually designing my own quilts I realised this was my "opportunity" to design the quilt and take all the credit! Fish are a common theme in my quilts, which is probably why I was drawn to Folksy Fish initially and had plenty of designs and pictures to draw from. So September 2016 I began dyeing some fabric in bright, jewel colors and drawing a number of fish that are found in the Pacific Ocean or at Monterey Bay Aquarium. With my daughter Lucy's help we laid out the colors and the fish according to size and width of row.  I had 10 rows with approximately six fish in each row, the quilt would be good size queen quilt, so it could be used on a bed.

Hand dyed fabrics in a basic layout for the fish.

Hand dyed fabrics in a basic layout for the fish.

Lucy helping with the layout of the many fish patterns

Lucy helping with the layout of the many fish patterns

Happily almost a dozen ladies from the guild volunteered to help make the quilt. I had raw edge applique fish to make and also improve pieced blocks that each fish would attach to. Some ladies were happy to learn to make the fish, others wanted to piece the blocks and some wanted to make both. For each block I gave them a pattern for the fish, a base fabric in a chosen color, a selection of scrap fabrics and the size requirements for the finished block.

Some of the applique fish coming together.

Some of the applique fish coming together.

After a successful workday many of the fish and blocks were made, many others were handed out and worked on individually. As I collected the completed blocks I put them together into their rows. At this point the fish were just pinned to their blocks until an overall layout could be made on my design wall.  Once happy I spent a long afternoon free motion quilting around all the fish .

Fish and improvised blocks on my design wall.

Fish and improvised blocks on my design wall.

With guild members, in January 2017, I had another workday to get the rows put together and to work on the border. I designed a wave template that was repeated in the colorful fabrics. We made two borders in colors and in grays which were then pieced to form the border.

Joining the rows to form the quilt

Joining the rows to form the quilt

I added two shoals of smaller fish that swam between blocks and finally the quilt was complete. It was now ready to go to be long arm quilted by guild member Beth. April arrived and we were ready to unveil the quilt at the local quilt show. Much to our excitement it won the top award for Best Use of Color. Now we can proudly display and sell raffle tickets for our colorful quilt 'Rainbow Fish'. This would never have happened without the guild members who were all to happy to try something new.

The final unveiing of king size 'Rainbow Fish'. 95" x 105"

The final unveiing of king size 'Rainbow Fish'. 95" x 105"

Pet Portraits, my favorite class right now.

I have spent the last two days teaching my class 'Pet Portraits' and it is my favorite class to teach right now. I had 18 students from the Pine Tree Quilt Guild, Grass Valley, which is the largest class I have taught and I had my oldest student, 93 year old Lila. When I have taught this class previously there have been a week or longer between the classes giving the students time to get their homework done! So tackling the project in 2 days was challenging.

Most people chose to make a portrait of their dog or dog they know. I love all the different interpretations and approaches to this raw edge collage applique technique that I teach.

The start of the class is most daunting as it involves drawing and no one thinks they are an artist! I was really impressed how everyone tackled this and made their own professional looking patterns.

Not everyone chose to make a dog but these cats, and other animals made great subjects for a portrait. What fun quilts and a fun bunch of ladies to hang out with for a couple of days.

This sweet dog was stitched down with plenty of thread play bringing out his fluffy personality.

This sweet dog was stitched down with plenty of thread play bringing out his fluffy personality.

I am now looking forward to teaching this class again in September in Auburn, CA.