Saturday, June 1, 2013

Challenge 4 Art

I joined up with three other blogging quilters to do a quarterly art quilt challenge, which we're calling "Challenge 4 Art." We came up with the idea of this challenge group after being inspired by the Four in Art Group, who already have three projects under their belt. 

The other three talented quilters in our little group are:
Amy of Amy's Crafty Shenanigans
Claudia of Machen und Tun 
Susannah from fiberchick 
Be sure to check out their projects too when you're done here! I can't wait to see what everyone came up with.

I chose our first theme: Growth. Not long after picking it, I made several quilts with a lot of green. So even though my first thought was to create something leafy and green, I just couldn't stomach the idea of more green!

But I was really stuck on the leaf concept. I photographed these leaves in our yard (just on my iPhone, so I could blow them up and trace them).

I don't do much applique, but this seemed to be a prime opportunity. I wanted to create a rather plain/simple piece and then embellish it with dense machine quilting. Here's what I came up with:
I used some leftover Gradations fabric by Caryl Bryer Fallert from way too many years ago, and then a black solid. The piece measures 12.5" x 33", so it sneaks in under our 100" maximum perimeter. 

Close-ups of each block:
A disclaimer on this first block: My husband walked in while I was sewing this and asked why I was sewing a pot leaf! We are not growing THAT in our yard. It's a red maple or Japanese red maple or something like that--plants are not my thing.  

Confession time: one of my earlier ideas was to do just ferns, showing one all curled up, one slightly unfurled, and one completely open. Then I thought about the drawing and cutting it would require and changed my mind. I needed simpler shapes that were easier to identify! 

Confession time #2: I really didn't want to use this leaf, as it seemed too autumn-ish too me. But I was running out of time and I'm pretty sure the other photos I'd taken of leafy plants in our yard were actually of weeds, and I was too embarrassed to show off a weed! 

This is my favorite one! I think the stitching lines on the hosta leaves make them look realistic, and I had fun with the pebble quilting too. 
 What I learned from this first challenge: Sometimes the freedom to make "anything" is a little too freeing. I spent 98% of the three months we allotted ourselves thinking of an idea and 2% actually sewing. Also, I really need to watch the warping when I machine quilt densely. But...I really enjoyed experimenting with different machine quilting motifs--so much easier to manage on a smaller project!

Thanks for playing, ladies! Can't wait to pick our next theme and start brainstorming!


  1. love your idea and execution! the leafs are great, as are the colors.. great quilt!!

  2. I love it! The graduations fabric is perfect for the job and your different quilting finishes is an added feature.

  3. Wow so beautiful! The gradation fabrics are ideal and add so much depth to the blocks. I am new to applique and love your shapes. Inspirational! I too did 98% and 2% - great to know I am in good company!!!

  4. GORGEOUS! I love the colors and your quilting is just fantastic...

  5. I think this turned out fabulous! I love the hosta leaf too! The quilting is just awesome. Great job.

  6. Love your idea. So creative. I love the quilting too. Wish I could master pebbling.

  7. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!!!! I love colour - so blown away by this.

  8. This was great! I loved the use of the gradated fabric, as it adds interest and movement to the shapes of your leaves. The quilting really added a lot to this--I like all the different types of quilting (almost like a quilting sampler). And I laughed at your comment about how 98% of the alloted time was spent stewing over ideas. I think that's about our ratio, too.
    Congratulations on a fabulous first finish.

    I'm off to see your mates!

    Elizabeth E.

  9. Very clever idea! Lol at your husbands comment. I love the colour graded background fabric.

  10. I was reading your post in my email and my husband was looking over my shoulder and asked why I was looking at a photo of a pot leaf. Then I read your husband's comment and I just had to post this. It was too funny not to share! Very beautiful work!

    1. Apparently our husbands think alike! :) You're right--too funny!

  11. Good thing you clarified that wasn't a pot leaf. That was my first thought too and was having a bit of a giggle. Love the detail in your free motion and the gradated colours. Beautiful.

  12. Those are beautiful! Love the colors you chose.

  13. Oh my gosh, gorgeous!! I love everything about this, from the leaf shapes you selected, the fabric, colors, and quilting.

    I have a funny story about a "pot" leaf (but it wasn't funny at the time). My 5th grade daughter wore a brand new t-shirt to school that featured bamboo leaves rooting in a mason jar. She was growing so fast, we had to shop the misses section and skip kids and juniors. Anyway, the first (and last) day she wore it to school, the teacher pulled her aside and told her very sternly that she should never wear that shirt with the "pot" leaf again! She came home humiliated. I sent the teacher a note the next day with a photo of the shirt and a photo of a pot leaf - so hopefully she could identify the difference in the future!

  14. I like your hosta one, too. I agree that having too much freedom actually hinders the creativity!

  15. brilliant and just beautifully done! my fave is the fern!