Monday, July 18, 2011

My own quilting style: Obsession Quilting {Gail}

I have created my own style of quilting which I call Obsession Quilting. I named it that a few months after creating the quilt shown below. It is aptly named for two reasons -- the quilt has one theme, and represents an obsession by the quilter or recipient, and you get to obsess about the fabric and design as you create it. It is a style of quilting that's not for everyone. The designing itself is somewhat like orderly crazy quilting.

My other lovely daughter, Sam's sister Becca, love-love-loves frogs! Since she was 12-ish, and continuing now into her 20s, frogs are her thing. Becca also likes bright, cheerful, playful colors as this quilt shows.

Obsession Quilt #1:
Becca's Frog Quilt
50 different frog fabrics, 6 almost-solids
I started collecting fabric (oh, yeah, me and my fabric habit... *takes a moment to dreamily consider beautiful fabric*) Uhhh, ok, back to topic: I started seriously collecting fabric for THIS quilt about 3 years before I made it, just because every frog fabric spoke to me of Becca. During part of this time, she was away at school and I missed her! I kept the growing collection a secret from her. A few months before her 20th birthday, I decided to make her a frog quilt for her gift. Then I really went on a frog fabric search! I perused all online fabric stores I could find; I searched manufacturer's product listings; I looked in every fabric store I came across... OK, so that last one is actually pretty normal behavior, but now I had to lay eyes on all frog fabrics while I was there. I also went through my entire fabric collection to find all frogs no matter how obscure!
Eventually, I had a basketful of colorful frog fabrics, and knew there was no quilt pattern out there that would let me feature each one in a unique way. The colors were not all related; some fabrics were apparel fabrics of different weights and appearances, and the scale of frogs ranged from 1/4" to 5-6".  So, bringing my "re-engineer everything" mentality, my various levels of quilting, sewing, collage, and fabric experience, I decided to piece custom blocks based on the fabrics and the call of the frogs. Ribbit!

I started off by choosing a few related sizes and cut fabric for hours. I cut squares and rectangles centered up on the specific frog designs in the fabrics. A few fabrics had interesting all-over prints with a good flow, so I made some large patches with plans to quilt and embellish them cleverly.

Then I decided to try some quilt techniques I knew how to do, but never had. I made a rag quilt block (lower right of center, pink heart). I made a paper-pieced frog from a pattern I downsized (will fill in credit soon!); it looks like her pet fire-bellied toads (center left, yellow frame). I made my first kaleidoscope block with a frog centered on each blade (just above the rag heart, turquoise frame). I made some postage stamp sized 9-patches and 4-patched them with other blocks (far right, partway out of this picture). Eventually I started framing my cut patches up with the 6 almost-solids, and went back to the fabric collection for custom cuts to create mosaics. I did this to fit spaces, give a bit of rhythm to the colors and lines, and to feature groups of frogs from the same fabric or with the same theme: there's a dancing area, there's a mommmy-takes-care-of-little-frog area, there's a learning area, a princess area, a leaping area, and more.

Then I began to embellish and quilt, which gave me the opportunity to sneak in little messages. One block is "tied" with machine-stitched hearts in matching thread (she'd find this bit of love eventually, right?); one block on the far left center (solid green) has 3 buttons meaning "B. loves frogs". There's a frog applique, a rhinestone frog iron-on, and more.

The back is pieced from large pieces leftover from fabrics that were cute to look at as a whole, but that were only included in small pieces on the front. There is a LOT of leftover fabric, but you have to do it that way. A lot of it can be turned into a less-obsessive patched quilt. Or 2. Or 3.

Of course, I have a few more frog fabrics since I finished this quilt; I just couldn't stop! Let me just say, the fabric designers did a great job with the frog theme.

I am working on a new Obsession Quilt. A coffee-theme this time. First a wall-hanging, eventually a quilt. Quite possibly a bag or two. This one's for me!

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