Last year The Modern Quilt Guild announced The Riley Blake Fabric Challenge. It took me a couple of weeks to decide if I wanted to sign up. I had never done anything like this before, only having made quilts with other people’s patterns, or with Block-of-the-Months. Finally, I decided that it was time to stretch myself as a quilter. A MODERN quilter.
In the Individual Group on The Modern Quilt Guild community, a question was recently asked about how we each go about our design process. This post is an explanation of my process in creating my challenge quilt.
First of all, I procrastinated on this quilt for two months. I think that’s probably the best way to start a project, no?! Sheesh! In my defense, I had a crap-ton of Christmas sewing to get done before I could get started. Although, I did have this project constantly swirling around my mind. In January, I sat down with some graph paper and started to fill in squares. That seems to be the only way I can visualize quilts. Also, the squares are EVEN on all sides, and my math-challenged brain appreciates the simple math of “each square is either 1 or 2-inch squares”. In this case, I chose one inch squares. Then, I grabbed my colored pencils and started filling in the rectangles I drew.
I liked what I came up with, with the exception of the odd ball rectangles in the top-left and bottom-right corners. When I looked at the paper as a whole, I realized I basically created a Percent sign (%). Not. Happening. After erasing the offending “percent” parts of the design, I decided I needed to see the pattern better… without all the lines or the erased areas. Call it OCD if you like. I spent the better part of an evening on Libre OfficeCalc (Ubuntu’s version of Excel) recreating what I drew on graph paper. Then I typed out ALL the pieces that needed to be cut from each grid square.
After cutting and piecing the quilt top, I needed to design the back of the quilt. I didn’t have enough of the aqua chevrons to keep the fabric in the same direction, so I decided to cut it into 10.5″ squares and rotate the chevrons every-other-square. I pulled out my trusty graph paper, drew and colored in the design, and listed the pieces to be cut. Annnndddd…. at about 75% of the way through cutting out the squares, I realized that I had cut them to FINISHED size: 10″ instead of 10.5″. ARGH!! I grabbed the graph paper and decided to add in a 3″ white vertical stripe and 3″ white horizontal stripe to make up the difference in lost inches. I think it broke up the all of the aqua in the back of the quilt and made a nice design element! *Whew*
After creating the back and basting the quilt, I needed to decide how to actually QUILT it. I figured all that white space would be a perfect area to create a negative of the colored rectangles. So, I grabbed the computer, went back to the Libre OfficeCalc worksheet, and started outlining rectangles. It was a perfect way for me to see how the quilt design would look overall.
Next came the task of actually marking the quilt. I realized that I probably should have noted in the boxes how many inches each rectangle was. Since each square is one inch, I just started writing the numbers in the boxes on a printout of the worksheet. I didn’t print grid lines, so I definitely needed the extra help in noting how big to mark the rectangles pattern to be quilted. Also, marking with a yellow chalk pencil on white fabric sucks. Especially when it’s time to quilt. So. Hard. To. See. I didn’t want to use a FriXion pen, because they have a tendency to not disappear all the way. It was a struggle getting this one quilted… But it got done!
The quilting took me about a day and a half to do, then the binding was another day’s work. I got the challenge submitted with about 5 days to spare… Probably a record for me. As I was quilting it I kept thinking, “Follow The Riley Blake Road”. I had kicked around several names for the quilt, but after hours of that phrase being repeated in my head, I knew that had to be the name.
I completely enjoyed this challenge. And, for me, it WAS a challenge. Big thanks to The Modern Quilt Guild and Riley Blake for the fabric and the opportunity to participate! The top 10 finalists were posted today, and they are FABULOUS! If you’d like to see them, you can find the post HERE. Congratulations to the finalists… your work is awesome!