Our guild has a challenge every year. This year the challenge was to make a quilt that was 6 inches x 60 inches. You could use any technique or combinations of techniques and you could make as many as you wanted!
My first thought was to make two 6x60 quilts with my granddaughter's upward foot steps embroidered and the word "UP" on one side and downward footsteps and the word "DOWN" on the other side. Then attach them together leaving the footsteps open so I could place rolls of stabilizer in between.
Well, it is still above my pay grade to figure out how to digitize the footstep!
I thought about using a row of the string geese we've been piecing. BUT, the rules of the challenge is that you do all the work yourself. The grands helped me so that was out.
Then, I decided that I would make a circle quilt using this accuquilt die. I picked out my fabrics and was ready to begin when I decided that these blocks were really better suited to a bigger project where one could really have fun with the center color.
I almost decided that I would just cross that project off my list until I began reading our latest book club book, "Night in Shanghai" by Nicole Mones. It is about a pianist that travels to Shanghai to lead a jazz band.
Right away, I had an idea after reading a few chapters! I wanted to use a men's suiting fabric as my background and lots of shiny thread for texture. The wool that I have in my stash wasn't right; but, I found a 1 2/3 yards piece of cotton in the sale room at the LQS. It cost a little more than $5!
Next I made a piano key block.
I embroidered some words that related to the book. (This was my first time to use lower case letters.) Thanks JoJo for your input about keeping the small open spaces on the letter "e" and the dots on the letter "i"! I did make a sample, using different colors of thread to see which showed up more from a distance. Interestingly, I had thought that the dark red and dark purple would be the choices when I began; but, you can see from the sample that the value of these two colors was too close to the background for it to be seen!
Next, I layered my piece and using my stitch book, I stitched stitches across the fabric. I did chalk a line so I would have gentle curves. I chose stitches that when I listen to jazz are what shapes I hear.
As an aside, I like jazz. I didn't always like it. I had a neighbor that use to play it on hot summer nights in an 800 square foot house with a sound system for a 3000 square foot house. We lived next door and I use to cringe when he came home and cranked up his sound system.
One day, he invited me over as he had just purchased an even better unit to play his music and he wanted to share it with me. Rather than using the opportunity to gripe about his music choice, I asked why he liked it because it just sounded like a hot mess of discord to me.
He laughed and then became serious. He said, "All this time, I've been sharing my music and you haven't liked it?" I nodded my head that he was right. "Here, listen to this," he said and so my jazz education began! Over time, I actually enjoyed it enough that I might have even chosen a jazz station to listen to on the radio.
But, back to the project! I stitched one line of stitches in blue thread as that motif represented the overall blues sound to me. Then I stitched a heavier line in a salmon colored thread. I then filled in all the other areas improvisationally, using no thought or plan. I had jazz music on my iPhone; I just stitched.
In the spaces between the stitch lines, I then decided to add free motion quilting motifs that either were my idea of relating to the story line or to jazz. It was fun and once I had determined my inspiration, it was easy to fill in the spaces. When I finished, I hung it on the wall.
I was disappointed. The thread colors blended too much with the background. How was I going to make something in that piece show from across the room so that you wanted to see more?
My eye lit on one of my grandmother's button jars--the one with the white buttons. This is the jar of the men's shirting buttons that she had saved from my granddad's dress shirts and of course other buttons that she had cut from clothing before she cut the cloth into pieces for a quilt or into rags. She loved jazz. On the buttons went--all 90 of them! I machine stitched them which only took a couple hours. I spent twice that long burying all the thread ends!
I like the dimension and the symbolism the buttons add.
I machine stitched the binding to the quilt and I think I've figured out how to that successfully as well! This has been a great project. I almost have my first quilt finish of the year and can work on other "in process" projects! (For me, a project isn't finished until it has a label!)