PNW MQG Modern Metallic Challenge: Mount Rainier

The Modern Quilt Guilds in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States and Canada (Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia) were invited to participate in a challenge to feature metallic details.  Robert Kaufman provided fabrics from their Quilters Metallic collection and the Seattle MQG received a selection of Quilters Tussah and Quilters Linen.  Completed quilts could be entered to be exhibited in the new Quilt! Knit! Stitch! show in Portland, Oregon in August 2014.

As with most challenges, this one had to percolate for a bit before I formulated a plan. I wanted to explore more Anni Albers inspired design since I finished my Binary Challenge quilt, Albers Orange Chair.  Looking at images of Anni Albers’ weavings online, I decided to use the traditional Flying Geese block.  The metallics would be geese and a cross-woven steel blue would be sky.

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The project languished due to conflicting priorities and work (you know, normal life) and I pretty gave up on finishing by the deadline. An unexpected extension inspired a marathon of arranging, sewing, and quilting.  At the end, I had Mount Rainier.

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I arranged the flying geese in a value gradation and quilted lots of straight lines including a section which mimicked the goose triangle. 20140524_013847095_iOS

Stepping back, I realized I had just quilted what every Seattlite knows about Mount Rainier – the mountain is always there, even when we cannot see it behind the clouds and rain.  Right then and there I knew the quilt had found its name.

For the back, I arranged the remaining geese and metallic fabrics and added a hanging sleeve. The design of the back references the front but is definitely its own composition which just might have to be explored further.

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Mount Rainer: 32 inches wide x 20 inches tall. Original design inspired by Anni Albers’ weavings

Takeaways from this quilt: Making visual decisions visually by making blocks and using the design wall is the design process which works for me, growth comes through accepting challenges, quilting can really change a quilt top, never say never even when the deadline has passed, quilting friends are the best

Favorites things about this quilt: Persevering through design challenges, the gradated values for the geese, straight line quilting, the subtle sheen and light play on the cross woven fabric, the subtle sheen of the metallic, the amount of negative space in the design, the back design, quilting friends who encouraged me (thanks!)

Things to try next time: metallic thread, a different thread or threads to highlight the “mountain”, gradated value (definitely gradated value), higher contrast between the geese and sky, back design

Albers Orange Chair

When the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild issued the Binary Two Color Quilt Challenge in August 2013, I knew I would make a red and white quilt. Or a blue and white quilt. These classic two color combinations have a timeless graphic quality which I have always loved. Red is my favorite color and I already made a blue and white quilt. So, it wasn’t a hard decision after all. Red it was.

Color settled, I moved on to design. It had to be graphic and relatively quick to complete since the quilt was due in December 2013. Inspiration comes unexpectedly and from the oddest sources. While weeding through emails, I happened across an ad for a coffee mug featuring graphics by Anni Albers. D’uh! Wonderfully graphic with unexpected rhythm, Anni Albers’ work is a treat.

A flight to New York gave me plenty of time to sketch and explore options on paper. I chose half square triangles over flying geese due to the time frame.  Then I selected five different red solids in a very tight value range and started on the blocks. The design wall was crucial in working out the final arrangement.

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I had a fat quarter in my stash that was crying out to be included in this quilt. Just a bit of unexpected was needed and so I added it. Every red and white quilt needs a maverick orange chair, right?

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There was much piecing, pressing, and trimming of half-square triangles.

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And many basting pins.

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Then there were many bobbins of thread. And many hours of quilting.  As in enough time to watch My Fair Lady and seven and half Harry Potter movies.6tag_301113-202526

6tag_281113-102918I tried a few binding options and one of the solids always seemed right. Then I added a bit of the darkest red as an accent. Total fail. It was too muddy and looked like a mistake. What to do?  Ask your Instagram buds to chime in on other options.

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Surprisingly to me, the print option was the unanimous choice over the white (good thing they didn’t see the dark red). I couldn’t be more pleased. The print reads as red but adds just the right sparkle to the binding. The fabric is the chair print used for the orange chair block but cut and folded so only the chair legs are visible. As a bonus, I think the stripes have a bit of a digital pattern.

Hand sewing the binding is one of my favorite parts of quilting.  It’s just so satisfactory to sit and sew with a quilt in your lap. Especially while watching football on a Sunday afternoon.

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 And finally the quilt was bound, labeled, sleeved and ready to go. And in time to be delivered for the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild Binary Two Color Challenge Exhibit at Island Quilter on Vashon Island.

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Take aways from this quilt – be flexible and focused, make visual decisions visually, rework when something’s not working and deadlines can be good things.

Favorite things about this quilt – Learning more about Anni Albers and the Bauhuas school, the high contrast, the clean graphic nature of the design, the tight value range in the red solids, the maverick chair print block, the chair fabric binding accent, the polka dot sleeve, the light grey quilting thread, and the fact that I managed to quilt it on my home machine

Things to try next time – flying geese blocks, wider value range, more fabrics in the same value range, larger blocks, smaller blocks, gradated bands of value, gradated bands of piecing precision, spiral quilting