Monday, July 20, 2015

Two Quilts Are Better Than One!

Charley Harper Quilt
My version of the Charley Harper Quilt

In the winter of 2014, after reading the International Quilt Festival Quilt Scene magazine (2013\2014), I fell in love with the Charley Harper Quilt by Melissa Lunden (it's featured on the cover of the magazine, at the bottom right).

I had bought many modern fabrics a couple of years earlier and wanted to make something with a lot of negative space for free motion quilting (FMQ). My fabrics were more in the brown, gold and red so I decided to use a darker brown fabric that would bring it all together. Although I'm not a huge fan of browns, it does make for a very rich looking quilt.

While I was at it, I thought that I would make my first pieced backing (as in intentionally pieced, not the "Oh my goodness, I ran out of fabric, how can I make this backing big enough?" version).
Street Art Quilt

My version of the Street Art Quilt

I looked around in my stash of books and magazines for something that would be modern but also not too time consuming to make (right!). I was intrigued by Mary Patterson's Street Art quilt which features fabric by Stephanie Brandenburg in the Quilt Trends magazine, Summer 2014. It had some funky fabrics, large blocks, some of them framed within the quilt. I knew that this pattern would translate well into what I wanted to make. It was also simple enough that I could adapt the size to the quilt top.

It's been a long time since I finished the quilt top and backing. I remember that the Charley Harper quilt went together fairly simply. I also remember that I had to adjust the Street Art quilt quite a bit because I had started by drawing it all out. When I started putting it together, I quickly realised that my pieces were too small and wouldn't have the same effect...and I really got tired of working with the same fabrics for so long (yup, my secret is out! I tried to plan it out but got bored!!!)

 I think that both quilts would have made a fine front and back, but when I looked at both quilts a few weeks ago, I just couldn't bring myself to put them together to make one quilt. I had put too much effort into making both of them, and doing FMQ on the top would not have necessarily been the best quilting for the back.

I'm now in the process of FMQ the Charley Harper Quilt. I still haven't decided what to quilt in the negative space but I've started "sewing every stinking seam", as suggested by Cindy Needham.

I find that this is a great suggestion because when I look at the quilt, I am totally intimidated by all of that negative space to quilt. As I quilt almost every stinking seam, I am getting familiar with the quilt and slowly getting ideas for quilting it. As Cindy suggests, I will also divide and conquer the space so that it won't be such a huge task.

Right now, I'm thinking of quilting feathers in most of the negative space. My feathers aren't too bad, and I find that drawing them out at the beginning gets me in the grove. Eventually I can stop drawing them and I will be confidant enough to just sew them.

What I've learned:
  • I'm not sure that I'll ever be patient enough to piece a whole quilt back. I love the effect of a pieced back but that's a lot of work, when you've already put in so much time and effort into the front!
  • I took my unfinished quilt and quilt top to work with me this morning and had a "photo shoot" before work. It was a lot of fun. The light was good but it was quite windy. This didn't make much difference for the Charley Parker quilt, but the Street Art quilt top was flapping all over the place! I'm going to learn more about photographing quilts and I'll share what I learn.
  • I spent a lot of time looking at the Charley Harper quilt, which is made of fabrics from Charley Harper's wonderful drawings. After I finished the quilt, I went on and bought quite a bit of the fabric which is created by Birch Fabric. It is truly beautiful - but that will be for another project!

Charley Harper fabrics
Charley Harper fabrics
I am linking this Work-in-progress (WIP) with MOP MondayMonday MakingFabric Tuesday at Quilt Story.

If you have time, check out everyone's links.


  1. Great modern pieces! I usually piece backing out of necessity because I never have enough fabric for a quilt back ;) but I understand the struggle in not wanting the time spent on piecing the back to be "wasted" on the back. The solution is simple: you don't call it "back" you call them front 1 and front 2 :) the advantage is that with a twist of your wrist you can change the decor of your room :)
    Looking forward to see how you are going to use that yummy fabric. Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Hi Alida, That's what I was thinking when I made the back but I'm just not sure how to FMQ it so that the back would be as wonderful as the front. I'm thinking that next time I want the FMQ to show up in the back, to just use a solid, like that the back will look like a wholecloth quilt. I have another project where this might work....I guess we'll see!
      Thanks for your comments.

  2. I agree lovely fabrics. I understands your thoughts about a quilted back. I never have done it. You are right: two quilts are better than one. I love your Harper quilt, Feathers in the negative space will be beautiful Hve fun with stitching the feathers.

    1. Hi Maarje, thanks for the vote of confidence. I'm just quilting the squares now - I have to get the courage to start the feathers....soon I hope!

  3. Wow, now you have two lovely quilts. Good luck with the feathers. They will look wonderful in that negative space.

    1. Thanks Bonnie. I hope so. I'm going to start doing the feathers soon!


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