Friday, December 19, 2014

Crystal City

Crystal City, measures 36" x 41"

I finished this quilt last month in time to submit to QuiltCon, in the Michael Miller Cotton Couture challenge category.  It's taken me a while to blog about it because I don't particularly like this quilt.

It all started with the pastel palette.  I've never liked pastels, but when the challenge email showed up I was brand new to the Modern Quilt Guild and quite eager to take part in one of their fabric challenges.

Plus, I had a plan already!  A quilt I had designed at the Albuquerque Modern Quilt Guild meeting a month or so before.  There was a program on free form design, and it was hands on with lots of paper and cutting.  At least a couple of ladies said I should turn it into a quilt, so I felt encouraged by their excitement.

Original quilt design.

And then I saw that the quilt had to be primarily pastels.  I tried to change my plan (I considered making the background out of the pastels somehow and the shapes would be the dark grey, but it would have looked like Easter vomit).  I thought about it for over a month, got some more pastel fabrics to help support the new plan.  But I hated the new plan.  I inquired on instagram about quilts with a dark background color (I had seen several being made) being disqualified, but got no response.

Straight line quilting done with my walking foot.  Everything else was free motion.

So I decided to just make it the way I originally wanted.  The pastels are the primary focus, so I decided to just go with it.  I enjoyed working on it, until it came to the pastels.  Ugh, every time I just hated them.  Severals times I mixed up the orange and pink or the blue and teal (I sew a lot in the evening with low light while we try to get the kids to sleep).

A collage of my instagram process photos (@quiltsnfeathers)

I liked the process of designing my own quilt and then working through different methods of turning it into reality.  But I hate the pastels.  It started with just disliking them, but the more I worked with them the more I disliked them (individually I like them okay, but grouped together they are just awful).  And they are just terrible to photograph.

Flying geese and quilting detail.  I used two layers of batting so the pastels would pop--Warm and Natural and Quilter's Dream wool.

But I finished it in time to submit to QuiltCon and felt fairly confident and hopeful.  But it wasn't accepted (neither was my Flying North quilt) for the quilt show.  At first I was disappointed, then angry, then frustrated.  Crystal City and Flying North are two of (what I consider to be) my most modern quilts.  For both I really stepped out of my comfort zone and tried something new in the name of the quilt being "modern".

Quilt back, Cotton Couture in Charcoal.

I was disappointed that Flying North wasn't accepted because I really like that quilt, and felt that it was one of my best in terms of showing.  But I made it for my friend Afton, with her tastes in mind and the goal was for her to like it (which she does)

But with Crystal City, from the first instant of ordering the challenge fabric to...well still now, it was made to be shown at QuiltCon.  It has no secondary purpose.  I had hoped to sell it at QuiltCon so I wouldn't need to have it mailed home and have to do something with it.

Back quilting detail

So when it wasn't accepted into the show I felt so frustrated!  I'd wasted so much time and money on making the quilt for the show and that was all just a waste.  I'd made my most modern quilt and was still rejected.

Back detail.

I'm still frustrated that The Modern Quilt Guild didn't give any information into what type of modern quilts they were looking for, or how many they were going to accept (I've heard it was only 300 of the 1350 entered), or why they chose such a small number considering the incredible attention QuiltCon has gotten this year.

Quilting detail.  I used Aurifil #2600 in 50wt (it's a silvery grey)

I do plan to enter both quilts in other shows.  I know I'm not a modern quilter, and I know I'm not a traditional quilter.  I just kind of float on the peripherals of both groups and kinda step my toes in once a while to test the waters.  The modern waters are kinda bitter right now.

But you know what?  I'm not excited about QuiltCon because of the show.  I'm excited because I am getting to meet SO many of the awesome quilty friends and bloggers I've made!  I'm also kinda looking forward to taking my first ever quilting class (one with Angela Walters and one with Anna Maria Horner).

Label from TagsToGo on etsy.

I'll leave you with a couple of quotes:

Dear Self, I promise never again to sign up for a fabric challenge I am not completely inspired by. I promise not to agree to use an advanced sewing pattern that I've never heard of before, know nothing about the pattern writer, or can find any additional resources for online. I promise not to try and make a style of quilt I'm not drawn to. I promise to try to be content, if not happy with the machine, fabric, thread, etc that I have now. And I'm sorry about all the headaches I've caused you recently by not doing all these things. XOXOX -Me (I posted to FB December 2nd, before the QuiltCon show choices were made)

"You have to measure your successes and your failures within, not by anything that I or anyone else might think." -Jean-Luc Picard (Star Trek The Next Generation, season 1, episode 18).


  1. While I think it's good to challenge ourselves every once and a while, I feel ya on pastels (in general). Your work is impeccable. I really love the flying geese and your Flying North quilt. The quilting detail on both of these is impressive. There are a lot of us quilters who are in the middle. I agree that we do our best work when we work on projects that we are inspired by. Thank you for linking up with me for TGIFF this week.

  2. Bloody hell, I seriously can not believe that they didn't take either of your quilts! The one you sent Afton is so amazing your quilting is of course always amazing. I also love your pastel one, but I could see maybe they didn't take it because of the darker background, but then they should have said so in the rules, it is a wonderful design. Boo the judges of Quiltcon, but how awesome that you get to take a class with Angela Walters, next year you will be teaching a class!

  3. This is so beautiful! I've seen so many gorgeous quilts that didn't make it~i just can't imagine what it's like having to make that decision. This is stunning, quilting is of another level~so imaginative, real artistry. I'm so glad you shared it!

  4. Yeah, I am with you on splitting the traditional / modern lines. I don't feel like I fall into either category, honestly, because I am not "modern" enough, and heaven knows I am not "traditional"! Oh well, I am with you on being super excited about getting to meet so many fabulous people! And a class with Angela Walters - me, too! I am so excited for February, and, well, next time let's make quilts we love, yeah?

  5. I usually find your work incredible but sorry to say not this one. The thing is I don't get the design. It's not the pastels. It's like 3 or 4 things in one and I don't know what to concentrate on. Anyway I hope you'll have a good time at QuiltCon and it'll be fun to see how your quilts will do at other shows.

  6. You know I love you! And your quilts. I love the innovation that this one shows. You really stretched yourself and it's amazing to watch you as an artist. Keep up the great work. As we've discussed, it's clear the MQG was looking for a certain aesthetic that (let's face it) a large portion of quilters don't follow.

  7. I'm looking forward to meeting you at QuiltCon!

  8. I totally agree with Jess. I've made things for challenges that I wouldn't have made otherwise and I feel your frustration (and most of them sit in the cupboard now!) I can't wait to meet you in a few weeks :o)

  9. I totally could have written this post!! You did it much better though ;) I felt the exact same way about the pastels and forged ahead anyway. I think both of your quilts are awesome. This challenge quilt is so imaginative and the quilting is spectacular. I won't be at QuiltCon but if I were going, at this point it would be to meet all of the peeps I have only virtually met through my blog. A class with Angela Walters? SAWWEEET! :D

    I'm really glad I was not drinking anything when I read your 'Easter vomit' line - now that was truly laugh out loud funny and so sadly true at the same time!! haha

    You don't have to pigeon hole yourself - you are an amazing quilter!

  10. Even if you don't like the quilt...even in the end it sounds like you learned a lot!

  11. To say that I like Flying North would be a major understatement. I LOVE Flying North. And while Crystal City didn't have a secondary purpose, that doesn't mean that it can't develop one. It will absolutely make an excellent entry, along with Flying North, for Fiber Arts Fiesta.

  12. The picture in my reader was the shot of the back and it captivted me. The quilting is exquisite and i thought it was a whole cloth quilt, so you could display the back and ignore the pastels on the front

  13. This quilt is beautiful. It's balanced without being the same overall. I like the use of the pastels on the dark background. I'm not familiar with the challenge rules, could you use any fabrics from that line of fabric or just certain ones? You have learned a lot about design and making the design a reality, and that will help in the next project.

  14. I think your quilt is delightful! You did an incredible job quilting it, as evidenced by the picture of the back!! I'll be at QuiltCon on Friday and am so looking forward to it!! Have fun in your classes!

  15. I like both quilts. The three sections of this one fascinate me, and I see them connected by the repeated angles (love the square fabrics echoed by the square in the quilting in the bottom section) then the curves in the middle provide contrast. Jsut remember that not being accepted into Quiltcon does not mean the quilt is not modern enough! And I agree with those who have already said we don't have to categorize ourselves.

    As to challenges, my approach is to make them is one of the sizes for the charities I sew for. That way they have a destination beyond the challenge.

  16. I think this quilt is beautiful. The amount of work, and the quilting that went into it are stunning. In fact, I think the back is just as pretty - if not prettier (not a fan of pastels, myself) - than the front. And your Flying North quilt is hands down my favorite quilt this year. Whenever I think of the kind of quilter or artist that I'd like to be, your quilt is my go-to reference. So, I hope you are not discouraged, because you are truly an inspiration!

  17. Wow - I'm stunned that "Flying North" wasn't admitted, if not both of these. "Crystal City" is very good work. I like it. :) LOVE the little quilted diamonds in the lower field, and the quilting approach overall. You should enter it in several shows! Forget about modern or traditional labels. It'd be great in MQX shows, I think, and certainly in "local" shows. Let it add to the magic at those and give people something to gawk at as they soak in your quilting work on it!

  18. Your quilting is to die for ... so beautiful. I've been reading a lot of blog posts recently about what's modern, what's not ... I find it al; very confusing. But the thing I find most confusing is the pastel colour palette that they chose for the competition? I actually love pastels - but never for one moment thought that they were modern.

  19. Ahh!!! I am nodding my head so much with your promises to yourself!! Truth in every word! So, if this is an example of a quilt you weren't enchanted with making, I just CANNOT Wait to see what you make next, that you love, cause this is awesome!! XX!

  20. Man, I'm so sorry, but good for you! Good for you for trying something new...for putting yourself out there...for realizing that only working on things that inspire you (in the future) is the way to go. I finally told myself to stop working on challenges and other things that didn't inspire me this year. I always did all of the challenges and never felt inspired. :/ And then I always regretted that the projects that did inspire me were sitting off to the side just waiting. And that quilt wasn't a waste of time, because possibly it taught you something about who you are or who you want to be...and that alone is totally worth it. :) Have fun at QuiltCon. Wish I could see you there!

  21. Despite not being accepted into QuiltCon, look how much you learned from putting this together. I think it turned out amazing and I'm sure it will get accepted to other shows. Both this, and Flying North seem more like art-quilts to me, minus the embelishment (unless you consider that amazing FMQ embellishment?) Have fun at QuiltCon -- give Jess and Ashley and Laura big hugs from me :)

  22. Congrats getting your quilt accepted for QuiltCon, it is very well deserved! I will be going too and it would be great to meet you (after stalking you for the IGmini swap!). I am doing a class with AMH (is it the Saturday workshop?) and Angela Walters so a good chance we will meet up!!