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Modern Mirage Quilt

Modern Mirage

Well, I made it! I completed my new quilt in time to enter it into the Quilt Con show, and with a few hours to spare, no less.

Quilt Con quilt
It was not without its challenges. This quilt fought me tooth and nail into existence. First of all, piecing it was a BEAST. I knew extreme accuracy was going to be crucial, so I paper-pieced some of the small units, but when it came time to do the traditional piecing, it was still tough to get all those seams and points lined up. I didn’t count the number of times I had to tear out stitches and re-do, but I can assure you it was a lot. The top took forever!

Modern Mirage
Then, I started quilting it by outlining the vertical wavy pattern the design makes between the stars. But straight-line quilting isn’t my strong suit, and this type of quilting was kind of straight-line plus. Straight enough to require a walking foot, but with some turns that were so slight, it was hard to decide whether to turn as sharply as possible or to make it more curvy and flowing. And it ended up looking like a mish-mash of both. : ) So after four rows, I decided to change strategies and do loose wavy lines instead. That meant all the previous quilting stitches had to come out. You should have seen my family room yesterday. It was seriously covered in all these tiny little pieces of thread! Ugh!

Then, just because I apparently needed an extra challenge, when I finished my wavy line quilting yesterday morning, I turned over the quilt and found this—a huge crease on the back! Really??? The feeling when you work your butt off and then discover something like that is The. Worst.

This was my first real spray-basting fail. For some reason the 505 I use just didn’t seem all that sticky this time around. After basting, I noticed I didn’t have to clean up nearly as much overspray residue as I usually do—I guess that should have been a warning sign. Then the whole back of the quilt seemed to come loose during quilting. It’s totally weird, I’ve never had that happen with 505. Maybe I didn’t shake the can enough? It was a new can, so I hope the entire thing isn’t defective. Or worse yet, that there’s been some sort of formula change. Anybody have a similar problem with 505 lately?

(Updated to add: I just heard from my friend Katie at Swim Bike Quilt that she often has basting problems with Art Gallery fabric—and that is exactly what I used on the back of this quilt. Ironically, I think it’s the fact that Art Gallery is so high-quality and has such a nice sheen to it that accounts for this problem—spray-basting doesn’t work on voiles either, probably for the same reason. But at any rate, if you’re using a lot of Art Gallery fabric in a quilt, be aware that you may want to pin-baste.)

So I ripped out 5 more rows of quilting and re-did it all, and finally finished the quilt with no further incidents at around 3 p.m. Whew. So here it is—I’m calling it Modern Mirage. I entered it in the “Modern Traditionalism” category, which is the category I was most excited to see included in the show.

Modern Mirage
The design originally started with a variation on a traditional star block. I set that on point and liked the vaguely “Storm at Sea” feel it gave to the quilt. To modernize it, I gave the design some negative space on each side, but off-center (because I love me some off-center designs!). Then, when I was playing around with the colors, I came up with this palette, which gives it sort of a transparency effect, and I loved it! And I thought the wavy line quilting added sort of a “heat-haze” feeling, so that’s where the “Mirage” name came from.

For those who have asked about a pattern—um, we’ll see. : ) I have to admit, I’m a little sick of this design at the moment! It would be quite the complicated pattern to write up, with all the strategic color placement and what-not. And I don’t know how many people want to buy a pattern with such nit-picky piecing! But give me a few months, and then maybe I’ll want to revisit it.

As far as Quilt Con, since we were allowed up to three entries, I decided to throw two older quilts into the mix as well.

Shattered Spectrum
I’m now calling this one “Shattered Spectrum,” since “HST Mini” didn’t quite have that show ring to it. I entered it in the Modern In Miniature Challenge sponsored by Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine. I gave this little quilt to the lovely Susanne earlier this year as a thank-you for driving all the way from Madison to take my headshots and pictures of my family. But she was nice enough to give me permission to enter it and said she would ship it back to me if it gets accepted into the show. Thanks again, Susanne! Here’s the full blog post about this quilt.

Third Quilt Con entry
And I’m also entering my Lifesavers mini, since that one did so well for me in the EZ Dresden Challenge. I entered Lifesavers in the “Minimalist Design” category. Honestly, I’m not sure if it really qualifies as minimalist, but since I’d already entered something in the mini challenge, it seemed like the best fit for this one. Here’s the full blog post with more information on Lifesavers.

I was quilter #435 to enter the show, and my quilts were #587, #595, and lucky number #600! Wow! That’s a lot of competition for this show. I’m just hoping that at least one of mine gets accepted, and I cannot wait to see the entire show in Austin in February. Good luck to everybody who entered!

107 replies
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  1. Angela
    Angela says:

    I don't blame you for not wanting to write up a pattern for that one. It's stunning but I can see how much work it is. And if it doesn't get accepted into the competition then I'll eat my hat (well I would if i had one). I entered a mini as well…but I'm honestly not even sure what category I put it in. I'm hoping they'll figure that out for me. lol

  2. Lee Heinrich
    Lee Heinrich says:

    I hope you're not tired of fielding praise on this one! It's seriously incredible, Lee. I love everything about it. The color palette is so fresh.

    And I admit–after hearing your struggles with it, I'm a little less eager for a pattern! It sounds really difficult. Maybe you can just make one for me! KIDDING, kidding!

  3. Julie
    Julie says:

    Wonderful work. You should be proud of the creative ideas you inspire in all of us who love to quilt or at least follow along. Keep us posted as to your success with these.

  4. Sew Nomadic
    Sew Nomadic says:

    Omg I'm in love with Modern Mirage. What an incredibly striking and mesmerizing pattern! Your choice of color and craftsmanship is superb. Your work is so inspiring. I seriously need to do an all solids quilt asap. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Helene Juul
    Helene Juul says:

    Lee, I always do a basting line along the edges, even if I use 505 to baste with. Then something like this doesn't happen! And the basting will not have to be removed again – in fact in will even make the binding proces easier and a nice finish.

  6. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    The quilt is gorgeous. And I'm not surprised you're sick of it!! Seeing the same part do it so any times over would lead to that. I understand from experience! I'm glad to see even quilters who enter quilts in shows get puckers in the backing some times. Weird about the basting spray. I've never used that brand. Don't think it's in Australia.

  7. verykerryberry
    verykerryberry says:

    I can only imagine the challenge of those points but boy it was worth it! Spectacular optical effect. I use 50 but I also add a bit of basting, usually a 14" x 14" grid using tatting thread which has a bit of grip on it- still better than safety pins for me

  8. Elle
    Elle says:

    Well, you've managed to make me feel better about not entering, because I would have been in the same category as Modern Mirage, and I know of the two which would have won! I finished mine around 8 without thinking about the fact that I couldn't get a decent picture at night. Ah well…I'll make something better next year after ogling beauties like this at the show (no doubt in my mind it will be accepted!). I finished a storm-at-sea earlier this year…the precision piecing is a pain, but the results are so stunning. I really want to make a king-sized one, but if I do, I'm going to borrow a page from your play book and add some serious negative space! It's perfect, and smart! Congrats, and I'm looking forward to seeing these in person in February!

  9. Linda
    Linda says:

    Gosh Lee. I'm just in awe of Modern Mirage, and how you seemingly whipped it up after deciding at the 11th hour (or so it seems) to enter a quilt in the MQG show. I know, I know… you didn't really "whip" it up as it's apparent the sewing and quilting of it gave you fits and starts. But golly, is it ever a gorgeous quilt. You have such great design skills in that pretty little head of yours that I can only be in awe. It would take me months – if ever! – to come up with such a creative design as that! Do tell… has the concept been rolling around in your head for weeks? Or honestly, did it just come up as you thought about it? I am truly fascinated by the design process of gifted quilters. Not many of us – especially me – were blessed with your kind of talent. Keep up the beautiful work. I'm a fan!

  10. Cindy Kollauf
    Cindy Kollauf says:

    All 3 quilts are amazing—I am particularly astonished by how beautiful Modern Mirage turned out. When I saw your "sneak peak" of some of your piecing for this quilt, I couldn't quite visualize how this would work. The colors you chose and pattern you designed created a very refreshing and appealing quilt. Congrats!

  11. Malini
    Malini says:

    WOW! your quilt looks amazing. It must have been tough to find the problem after all the quilting. Now you know.
    Any way , enjoy your wonderful quilts.

  12. Erin Quinn
    Erin Quinn says:

    Your mirage is absolutely stunning. It's one of those quilts that is jaw-dropping. I think I'd be way to scared to even pick up the pattern, but I'd definately spend an hour or two just staring at your quilt.

  13. marcella
    marcella says:

    Yea for getting your quilt finished and entered! It's just spectacular. Best of luck in getting a quilt or three into the exhibit. I am so looking forward to February too.

  14. Laurel09
    Laurel09 says:

    I know you posted this over a week ago, but I have come back to this post to look at your quilt several times, so I think it's time I comment to let you know how much I *love* this quilt! I think it's beautiful and modern and just very cool! I even showed it to my teenage step-son, and he even thought it was neat (which is saying something, because it's not easy to get much of a response from him on anything!).

  15. Kelli
    Kelli says:

    I love how it looks both modern and incredibly traditional at the same time. I love how it looks curved and moving. I am in love with this quilt! Great job, Lee!

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