Wednesday, May 27, 2015

ABQMQG Quilted Banner

I finally finished this quilt last week--just in time for it to make a cameo on the local news as part of the publicity for the Fiber Arts Fiesta!  First time one of my quilts have been on the news!

ABQMQG (Albuquerque Modern Quilt Guild) quilted banner, measures about 86"x42".

The Fiber Arts Fiesta was this past weekend, and the ABQMQG had a booth in combination with the Best of QuiltCon traveling quilts exhibit our president brought in.  The ABQMQG banner hung behind the tables for all to see and it was really good to get tons of positive feedback on my quilting!

Sun and sky quilting detail

When I got the quilt top (it was pieced and appliqued by other women in the guild), I immediately wanted to add a big sun since Albuquerque has abundant sunshine (310 days of sunshine every year!).  I couldn't make all those pebbles and occasional swirls without adding a snail somewhere, so hidden in there is a sun snail--which started a whole snail theme for the quilt and I ended up adding 9 more!

Center of the sun quilting detail--inspired by my husband saying, "maybe you could do swirls to look like sun spots!" and Yvonne's sun quilting.

And then I was like, this quilt needs hot air balloons!  Albuquerque is home of the International Balloon Fiesta, the largest ballooning event on Earth with nearly 600 balloons.  My husband suggested the variegated thread, which I so quickly adopted into my plans I forgot it was his idea!  He gently reminded me ;-)

Quilted hot air balloon detail, Aurifil #4654

Quilted hot air balloon detail, Aurifil #4647

I freehand drew the balloons on the quilt using a water-erasable marker, and kept the same ratios of the basket and balloon for the three sizes.  It was fairly time consuming, but so worth it.

Quilted hot air balloon detail, piloted by a wee snail (on the basket), Aurifil #5817.

Quilted hot air balloon detail, Aurifil #4657.

I spent a total of 40 hours working on this quilt, 30 of which were on the quilting!  The other 10 hours were spent basting, trimming, binding, washing, blocking and the hanging sleeve.  When I was finally done and dropped it off I was so relieved!  But I was also super burnt out on working on it and all quilting projects in general (I haven't done anything since!).

Mountain quilting detail.  Note the tram lines and a snail in the grey pebbles.

The mountain quilting was quite involved (who am I kidding, the whole thing was really involved!)--I quilted every color and block orientation differently.  For example, all of the red half square triangles that point to the right have feathers, and all the red half square triangles pointing up have echo lines.  There are 3-4 different shades of red, and I tried to quilt each shade differently.  I spent a lot of time looking up inspiration for fillers and marking them on the quilt!  I even included a vine patch and a watermelon in one HST, since sandia mean watermelon in Spanish (and I quilted a wee snail on top of the watermelon, but forgot to get a photo of it).

Mountain quilting detail, the orange-ish peak has a Zia quilted in it--the New Mexico state flag symbol.

Another fun detail I wanted to add right away is the Sandia Peak Tramway (or as we call it, the Tram)--it is the longest tramway in North America and has the third longest span in the world.

Quilting detail of the Sandia Peak Tramway.

Something I voted for on the ABQMQG logo was more mountain peaks--specifically South Peak, which is just above where I live and I see it every time I drive home.  But it didn't make the cut, so I decided to add a quilted version (which I named Ghost Mountain):

Quilting detail of Ghost Mountain.  There is a snail in the letter Q and in the ghost pebbles.

The swirly air current quilting is one of my favorite sky patterns, but all the sketches I made didn't come out right.  It wasn't until Yvonne from Quilting JetGirl showed me how she made the ones on her Out of the Woods quilt that it all clicked!  I drew the swirls on the quilt to keep them going kind of straight, and to keep the flow of them consistent "behind" the letters and sun rays.  This meant a lot of extra line breaks and threads to bury, but I really wanted the letters to be independent of the quilting designs and the wind quilting to feel continuous (yes it is often quite windy here!):

ABQMQG letters and air current quilting detail.

The last thing I quilted was the green area around the word 'Albuquerque'--I quilted a 1/4" echo around each letter to help define them and then did FMQ matchstick quilting to contrast the rest of the quilt:

Match stick quilting detail.

I used a ton of thread on this quilt!  I really wanted the logo to be the first thing people noticed, so I chose matching threads or subtle colors for the quilt.  The colors of Aurifil I used (from left to right in the photo below) are: front row-1148, 2887, 2130, 5009, 2310, 2021, 2600, 4241, 2692, back row-1147, 1103, 2420, 2360, 2311, 2024, 2605, 5004 (the cone), variegated threads- 4654, 5817, 4657, and 4647.

Aurifil threads used in the ABQMQG banner.

I was glad to have all the colors of Aurifil I needed for the quilt (I did order the variegated specifically for the balloons though), it made the quilting go a lot smoother since I didn't have to fiddle with the tension with every color change!

ABQMQG banner back.

I used Aurifil #2024 in the bobbin to contrast with the red back--I really wanted all of my quilting to show up somewhere!

The back of Ghost Mountain quilting detail.  There is a snail in the pebbles and in the Q at the top of the photo.

The back of the highest peak and tram quilting detail.  There is a snail in the pebbles.
More mountain quilting detail.  You can just barely see the balloon pilot snail at the top of the photo.
ABQMQG banner label and quilting detail.

I left the sun points unquilted, which was totally inspired by Krista Wither's quilting on Sew Katie Did's Opposing Triangles quilt

Back of the sun quilting detail.  There is a snail in the swirl right under the sun--I call it an air snail.
Back of the Albuquerque match stick quilting detail.  Another air snail can be seen on the far left, and there are snails in each of the Q's.

Whew, that's a lot of photos!  I'll leave you with these before and after shots (you can see more of the progress photos here and here) that really illustrate the effect of my quilting:

ABQMQG banner pre-quilting.
ABQMQG banner after quilting (still pinned to my design wall for blocking).


  1. WOW! I am usually a "non-commenter" but I couldn't stay quiet for this one. Amazing quilting...really gorgeous. Love it all!!

  2. The before and after photo at the end is brilliant, Renee; it really show the power of quilting the life into a project!!! The snail pilot is awesome, and I think the tram is my favorite detail (for now). :)

  3. OH MY GOODNESS!!! Completely SPLENDID!!!! You are so inspirational! I am so glad you were on the news!!

  4. If ever a project showed what the quilting stage adds ...

  5. Wow - it's awe inspiring. You must be so proud!

  6. I don't think I can see enough of this quilt EVER, Renee! Every time I look at it I see something different - and I studied it up close and personal in person :) Beautifully done and congratulations on making the news!! When Wendy went around to the back of the quilt to look at it, she looked up with a big grin and said 'did you see the back?!!' :D Using white thread was a brilliant idea!

  7. A true Masterpiece Renee!!! Love seeing all your photos and all the Albuquerque details you added, pus the touches of whimsy like your snails and the tram! I hope you rest up and recover your quilting mojo soon and also that you get heaps of praise for your stunning work!

  8. Wow! This is absolutely incredible. Thank you for all the close-up photos. Your quilting is absolutely beautiful. I love all the things you were able to add in with the quilting. (Especially the snails and mountain.)

  9. I think quilted snails are becoming your signature! What a great little surprise for anyone who really takes the time to look closely at the details. I love the snail pilot, and ghost mountain, and pretty much everything else about this! Congratulations on being on the news :)

  10. Congratulations! It is a lovely finish!! :)

  11. Wow! This is such an incredible piece, Renee. It surely is deserving of being on the news. I am in awe of all the details and really appreciated seeing both the back of the quilt and the before/after quilting shots. You are amazing! Not surprised you are fatigued.... You deserve a rest!

  12. I can not believe that all that spectacular quilting only took 30 hours! You are so speedy! You did a fabulous, FABULOUS job!!

  13. I've been following your progress on this both here and on IG. I had a good handle on the scope of the project -- all the different motifs you quilted, the unforeseen challenges. Only recently, however, have I realized the *size* of this banner. Holy heck -- it's huge! Lady, I think a vacation is in order!

  14. Stunning. It took me more than 15 minutes to go through this post, examining each photo, looking for the snail (I LOVE that!) They are often in my garden, not in the air here, lol. My fave is the basket pilot one. :-) The detail is incredible, the thought behind every detail so profound. Wow. I just love this. 86" wide---egad. Hope you've got several massages lined up or have already had at least one!

  15. I love all the details you included in the quilting of this and was to be able to see it up close and in person at Fiber Arts Fiesta ... though I really wish it could have been hung at eye level, instead of near the floor.

  16. What a fab project! You done so well and I love the tram as well. It brought up all the memories I have from visiting that place. You definitely deserve all the positive feedback!

  17. What a great banner. And awesome quilting. Thanks for linking up with TGIFF.

  18. This is just so amazing! I love all of the quilting. And finding the snails is fun. I am thinking that my guild needs a fun quilted sign too! Amazing! Get your sewjo back yet?

  19. It turned out amazing! I love Albuquerque and have so many wonderful memories of all the time I've spent in New Mexico;) If the state had some sports teams I would talk my husband into moving there! You all did a great job.