Greater San Antonio Quilt Guild is gearing up for the 2019 quilt show with a challenge! This blog post showcases how my 41″ x 41″ quilt came together. It was an absolute evolution of design.
The challenge issued to our quilt guild was to create a small quilt, no bigger than 250″ perimeter using a fat quarter of this Philip Jacobs print. I fell in love with the fabric instantly. It has every color and is the brightest print I’ve seen!
My design process started with the idea that I wanted to stitch various New York Beauty  blocks and add applique shapes at the points. I tried making the block once by paper piecing and once by raw-edge fusible applique.
Each of the squares above measures 10″ x 10″. That seemed like a good place to start.
My test pieces for the quilt challenge quickly became out of control. (No one saw that coming!) I had raw-edge fusible shapes on everything. I was adding stuff left and right in all the bright colored fabric scraps that I could get my hands on.
Instead of roping it in and editing myself, I decided that I love MORE IS MORE. This was my jumping off point. Buckle up, buttercup.
Some days I feel like I’m learning to quilt. Specifically, learning to hand applique small shapes. I don’t know if a perfect circle would look like a circle when appliqued. After all, this isn’t a large Learn to Sew Easy Curves  situation, though I did use the facing technique as I added a few quadrant arches. The small fabric circle problem is fixed with FELT.
I thought, “Hey, wool felt applique is pretty popular. I bet there’s a reason.” Then, I priced wool felt. Cough. Cough. Since this was a small challenge piece that may turn out to be a total circus, I treated myself to a rainbow sampler of synthetic felt from amazon .
Ok. Now I’m on my way. I just need some shapes and an idea…
I drafted the New York Beauty portion of the block in Adobe Illustrator.
The pink and white background fabric is a bed sheet. Why not use everything. With the exception of the challenge fabric and felt, no other fabric pieces were added to my stash to create this quilt.
Plaid/Gingham bias tape and multiple arches are FUN. I was nervous that I may use up all my challenge fat quarter too soon. You’ll see I use it conservatively in the beginning.
The next section started out much like the first. I needed some quarter-circles and some applique in my life.
Each of the two blocks pictured below have a paper pieced version of a New York Beauty block. The darker pink fabric is more of a chubby NYB.
Throughout this project, I used all sorts of different applique methods. Here’s how I tackled these fabrics:
- Fabrics have set in sewn curves between arches
- A few seams are hidden behind machine applied bias tape arches
- A couple arches with shaped edges have a facing sewn to them, then applied by machine
- A couple arches with shaped edges have a facing sewn to them, then applied by hand
- Of course, fabric shapes are felt
- A few shapes are raw-edge fusible applique
- Some shapes are prepared and hand stitched using the Appliquick Method. 
Really, MORE IS MORE isn’t just for color. It is really for the entire quilt and its processes.
Quadrants Three and Four
The design wall is proving to be invaluable.
As it starts to shape, I started working on the remaining quadrants at the same time.
And sometimes I flipped the quadrant positions to see if the colors and intersections mingled nicely.
I love the bias tape made from the challenge fabric. The arch-tape is created with just an 8″ x 8″ square.
There are also two pieces of crocheted lace trim in the quilt: one black, one white.
At this point I can tell how much challenge fabric is left and how much space I still have on my square quilt. Time to get crazy with the circles!
As you’ll see below, I needed to clean up the lower left-hand quadrant to remove the pink rectangles. I have bonus seams in this baby.
Since I have everything going on in this quilt, I decided to sew a facing around the circle-background in the lower right-hand quadrant and apply piping behind it when I hand stitched to to the next arch.
I thought I might play around with the layout a bit more before I commit to a design. Alas, This one didn’t speak to me like the centered-circle design, so I flipped all the squares back to the way I had originally envisioned them.
Fun fact: There are three different bed sheet fabric scraps in this quilt.
- White with pink flowers, background, used in 3 of 4 quadrants.
- Purple damask-y looking background, upper right quadrant.
- White with blue floral, lower right quadrant
I am not a hand-embroidery guru. I’m learning, but mostly I just wanted to try out the techniques on this quilt. Challenge is the name of the game, right?
Since I didn’t know if this would work, I didn’t invest a lot in fancy embroidery floss. I grabbed thread sampler pack for $6 , to go with my felt sampler, from amazon.
I also picked up a small tube of multi-color beads. All the beads are the same size, and they are all plastic.
The Longarm Quilting
This quilt is small. It is only 41″ x 41″ as I mentioned. Sure, there’s much to stitch around, but at the end of the day, it is a small, fast quilt.
In fact, the color and mixed-media-ness of this quilt makes the actual quilting pretty secondary. It is hard to see and ultimately not too defining.
But of course, if a person were to make a mistake and quilt white or light grey all over a dark pink fabric, well, that person would have to find a sharpie to fix her error OR rip out all the quilting. Pretty sure you know which option I picked.
Remember the piping around the large circles? Check this out:
And of course, there’s quite a bit of meandering stitches on this piece.
All in all, I’d say it was a great experiment/challenge. Now I need to get it entered into the 2019 Challenge Contest at the show. And, if you can believe it, I actually have a small piece of challenge fabric left. I may have to add it to the label.