The quilt I'm sharing today was made for the Michael Miller Luxe challenge - she's called Flow and she was a really fun quilt top put together. This is a fairly long post, as I'll be showing a bit of my process as well as a few pictures of the final quilt, so please bear with me! I would normally split this much information across a few blog posts - but I'm making up for my recent lack of blog posts by giving you a single enormous post ;o).
Mid last year, the Modern Quilt Guild offered members the opportunity to sign up for the Michael Miller Luxe challenge, one of the special categories that would be part of the QuiltCon 2017 show. Everyone who signed up for the Luxe challenge was sent two half yard pieces of fabric, in one of the colour stories below. Participants were then allowed to add ONE cotton couture solid to these, and to use any of the Luxe range of fabrics in their quilt. The fabrics I received were the middle two, and I then added a deep teal cotton couture to these, as well as solid white and grey Luxe fabrics.
I have to admit, these fabrics sat in a pile on my cutting table for a good few months before I started getting some ideas about what to do with them. These fabrics are sheeting fabric rather than quilting cotton, and as such have a slightly different sheen (they are quite shiny) and have a wee bit more stretch than regular quilting cotton. I was a little bit nervous about working with them, but eventually I decided improv curves were the way to go, and I started making a few blocks, without any real plan as to what I'd do with them. Apologies for the poor lighting in the next few photos - my design wall has overhead fluorescent lights, which make it really hard to get good pictures of the whole wall.
Initially, I made a few blocks, thinking I would position them so that there was a continuous improv curve from top to bottom down the quilt.
But as I kept making blocks, I decided to lay them out more randomly, with more negative space between and around the blocks. At this point I hadn't ordered any solids for the background, and my initial thought was to surround them all with white, and to create continuous curved lines through the quilt with quilting.
But, when I sat down to order the solids, I decided at the last minute to get some grey as well as white, and use this to create some more movement in the negative space. I think this is what I love most about improv quilts - it's such a playful process, figuring out layout and design on the fly. Working with an idea, testing things out and discarding ideas that don't quite work.
I had a love-hate relationship with this quilt the entire time I was piecing it. Thankfully, I have a really awesome quilty friend (kat) who was happy for me to bombard her with photos and questions as I was working on it. I think I've grown so used to oversharing my projects on social media as I'm working on them, that working on something in secret made me feel like I was in a black hole in some ways. I needed the opportunity to get constructive criticism when I was making this, or I honestly think I would have abandoned it.
In the end, this quilt was a weird combination of improv curves, and some pretty intense precision piecing to get those curves to form a continuous line through the quilt top. It was a really fun challenge, so despite those times I didn't like it, I still enjoyed the process. And seriously, this quilt was SO much fun to add texture to. Quilting is a super important part of quilt making for me - and the whole time I was piecing it I was thinking about how I would quilt it, to add to the sense of movement in the quilt top, and add loads of texture without detracting from the design. I forgot to take a photo of the top before I quilted it, so this is it in full. After I'd finished piecing, I decided to orientate the curves across the quilt, rather than top to bottom, and I much prefer it this way around :o).
As always, I did all the quilting on my little domestic Bernina (440QE), but because it's a reasonably small quilt (around 60" square) it was a really enjoyable quilt to quilt. I decided to use batting with a bit of loft to make all the quilting stand out, so I chose a Wool/Polyester batting - it's become one of my favorites to use. The batting, combined with the fact that it's made from sheeting, has resulted in the softest quilt I've ever made, despite all that dense free motion quilting.
All the quilting on this one is done in Aurifil 50wt - white, dove and a few different blues to blend in with the fabrics. Although I've recently used a few other weights of Aurifil for quilting (40wt and 28wt), for this quilt I decided 50wt was the way to go, as I wanted the quilting to blend into the fabric as much as possible, just leaving all that texture.
I don't often piece backs for my quilts - but I had a few bits of the Luxe grey and white left over, as well as a bunch of half-metre pieces of various blues, aqua and teal cotton couture that I pieced together for this one. Solids are the BEST for showing up quilting :o).
Thanks for making it this far in a pretty epic blog post! As I said, I have a few more quilts to share, which I hope to do over the next few weeks. I've made a few fairly major life changes this year (all good ones) which will mean I have more time and energy to blog more regularly. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy talking about and sharing my projects here, so you'll have to put up with my rambling a bit more frequently from now on...