If you haven’t seen my previous posts about this quilt, it’s the result of a collaboration with Milwaukee fabric designer Allison Bielke and AIGA Wisconsin (a graphic designers’ association). The AIGA and Allison organized a fabric design challenge—members were asked to design a print centered around the theme of Wisconsin’s natural beauty. We chose about half of the submitted designs and had those printed on fabric by Modern Yardage, a print-on-demand fabric company. That’s when my part of the challenge began: Designing a quilt using the selected prints!
My objective was to create a quilt that: a) showcased the fabulous prints in the best way possible, b) worked with the “Naturally Wisconsin” theme of the contest, and c) was an example of modern quilt design, which I thought would most appeal to AIGA members (and of course is what I wanted to do anyway!)
I quickly discovered that it wasn’t going to be easy meeting all of those objectives! For one thing, I don’t use a lot of large-scale focus prints in my quilting—and I’m not sure I’ve ever made a quilt almost entirely from focus prints (and 15 different ones at that). There’s a reason, after all, that quilt fabric lines usually include just one or two focus prints, complemented by lots of blenders and geometrics. And you guys—so many directional prints in this quilt. Arghghghg. : ) I had to plan very carefully as I was cutting and sewing and I admit I screwed up the direction several times!
I ended up using a classic maple leaf block, with strategically-placed negative space blocks to give it a more modern twist and to give the design some movement. The background solid in this quilt is Kona Smoke, a taupe that nicely complements the color palette Allison selected for the contest (all submissions were subject to a limited palette). I finished off the quilt with some diagonal wavy line quilting to heighten the “leaves falling” atmosphere of the quilt. (Is this wavy line quilting getting to be too much for you guys? I feel like I might have returned to that well a few too many times lately, but I really do love it, and it’s just so easy using stitch #4 on my Bernina 750!)
The back is mostly coordinating Cotton + Steel prints, but of course I had to piece in a maple leaf block in reverse (background solid for the leaf, prints as background).
This was a fun challenge to meet, and these Wisconsin-inspired prints were a joy to sew with, directional or not! I’m just in awe of how much creativity and design talent is out there—I wish every one of these peeps could have a fabric contract. Here are just some of the amazing prints I got to use in the quilt:
“Robins” by Emily Balsley
“Nature in Wisconsin Wood” by Cristina Rivero
“Blueberry Patch” by Sarah McMahon
“Cranberry Bog” by Sarah McMahon
“Big Buck” by Holly Kowalski
“Hodag” by Raymond Mawst (Not familiar with the Hodag? Here you go!)
“Bees and Zinnias” by Mary Roley
Unfortunately, none of these prints are available for sale at the moment, but that could potentially be in the works and I’ll update you all if it happens.
We are looking for places to display this quilt in Wisconsin over the next year, so if you Wisconsin folks have any suggestions, we’re all ears. It will be exhibited at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design this fall, and I’m going to try submitting it to the Wisconsin State Fair and the Wisconsin Quilt Expo as well. I’ve never entered a quilt in either of those venues, and I’m not sure the skill level of this one is up to their usual standards, but I’m hoping the Wisconsin focus and the specialness of the fabric design collaboration will be enough to get it in.
I want to thank Allison Bielke and the Wisconsin AIGA for including me on this fun project! I love fabric, I love design, and I love Wisconsin, so it was pretty fabulous to work on something that included all of those things. : )