So we’re now on Day 6 of the EZ Dresden Quilting Challenge and by now you know all of the details and the PRIZES and have seen some really talented quilters in the likes of Lee, Kati, Victoria, Tanya, Val, and Leigh. Are you inspired yet to join the challenge, or are you still on the fence about committing (although we’ll have all summer to stitch)? If you’re already on board GREAT! But if you’re still undecided because of time, or overcommitment, or whatever, I offer the following insight that will hopefully get you to change your mind.
I am process-driven. I am not in a race to finish a quilt a week, or even a month (as my guild members can attest at my lack of show and tell). Combine that with the fact that I am a list maker. I make lists. I’ve always been this way, but started making lists even more frequently in college. It is not uncommon for me to write something on my “to do” list that I’ve already completed just so I can feel like I accomplished something cross it off.
I currently have 18 “planned” quilts on my list. 18. That were in my head, and then made it to the list. Not to mention the fact that the list needs to be updated. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by my own hobby. How wacky is that?
So when the idea came about to organize and participate in a Dresden Plate quilt challenge, honestly, I felt a little lukewarm about it. Don’t get me wrong–I LOVE Dresdens. And I love my friends at EZ Quilting, especially Darlene Zimmerman, so how could I not participate in a challenge to celebrate her 20th Anniversary of making my quilting life easier? So the big question for me was how do I fit this challenge in to my “quilt schedule?” Currently it is on the list as number eight:
#8 EZ Dresden Quilt Challenge: “Gingham” inspired, navy, off-white, grey, beige, brown, color (yellow? Red, orange (sm. Gingham))? Asian? Use real Japanese. Homemade (Gwen 37 Sketches) gingham.
How is that for a ridiculously complex description of a quilt? I clearly had some initial ideas about fabrics and colors. Although what I had in my head then, was not what I am working on now.
Here’s what I’ve decided—I need to START COMBINING THINGS. I have another list (This one is more in my head) of “stuff” I want to “do” in my quilting to make me a better quilter. (Remember these are self-imposed goals).
- Work with “Wa” quilting style (more on this in posts later in the summer. I suggest Googling Shizuko Kuroha if you are curious)
- Be more liberated (do what Gwen Marston says)
- Cutting with scissors (which sounds funny to write. I mean cut fabric like the Gee’s Bend quilters do) (Thanks to Victoria for the push)
- Rediscover your inner artist (make art things BIG) (from a friend, my inner artist is “in there waiting”)
- Work small to test ideas (37 Sketches)
- Don’t be afraid to let go. Listen to your heart.
A simple list, right? I am trying to incorporate all of them in this project.
So I started by putting some thought into this challenge, then letting my head get quiet. I went to bed one night and couldn’t sleep. An idea came to me and I got up immediately and quickly sketched this:
Then in the morning I got up and pulled a bunch of fabrics that matched my vision. This initial mix met my first objective of working in the “wa” quilt style. “Wa” is loosely interpreted as “Japanese-ness” which in quilting oftentimes translates to an indigo-based palette. I have a large selection of fabrics I purchased in Japan (see my initial color description from #8, above). My idea was starting to gel, and by now I was getting really excited. You see, I had started combining items in the quiting challenges I had set for myself. This is good. Here’s where I went from lukewarm to hot.
Then I began three experiments.
1) working on the foundation–from scraps in my scrap bin that roughly approximated the color palette (not the fabrics) I wanted to to work with, and
2) experimenting with color options for the Dresden Plates based upon my sketch.
3) Having opted for the combination on the right (mustard yellow on an indigo/tan background–FYI, I also tried the reverse, and will likely eventually do a reverse reverse–pink on mostly tan) I began experimenting with the plates themselves. This process is evolving. I’ve decided to not limit myself to the 18 degree ruler rule. Plus there is an innovative category, right? Really you can use a variety of sizes in the “petals/blades” to make the plate. (See: rediscover your inner artist)
I experimented with making really long blades (maybe too long–I’ll ultimately make the scale proportional to my finished quilt dimensions). So far I have come up with the following (in order of experimentation):
I’m liking thinner pieces here like in the picture above on the right. (working more liberated)
Notice how the length of the plates changes through the sequence and also how I experimented with a jagged center (and how the light changes based upon the time of day I am working). Frustrated by the 2 hours it took to make only 1/2 a plate (on the left in the last photo) I quickly cut parts for a plate using the ruler as it is intended (on the right in the last photo). It is simpler and more straightforward. Definitely “EZ”, however after some thought (See: Listen to your heart) and a sample poll from my peeps on Instagram (I’m stitchoutsidetheditch) I think I have decided to go with the more complex (read labor intensive) version. We’ll see. I might make my foundation first then reassess based upon its complexity.
So, unfortunately I don’t have a finished project for you to see but I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my process. I’ll keep you posted throughout the summer so you can see how the full-size version of this quilt is progressing. Now, are you ready to get started?
Have you by dying to try out a Dresden Plate quilt (hint, hint). Perhaps, like me you’ve wanted to work in a particular color scheme, or with a different technique. I encourage you to look at your “list” to see what you can combine, and put that energy into a fabulous quilt. I have one ruler to giveaway to a lucky reader who is up for the challenge. Just leave me a comment (anything will do, but I’d love to hear a bit about your process) and I’ll announce a winner on Thursday, June 14. And since we can’t all be winners, I encourage you to pick up a versatile EZ Dresden Ruler at your LQS or directly from Simplicity.
I can’t wait to see your final quilts posted on the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild’s Link Up during the week of September 1. We’ll give you all those details on June 15. Mark your calenders now and go get your Dresden on!
Here’s the schedule for your continuing daily dose Dresden:
Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild Kick Off www.slmqg.com/
Salt Lake MQG: Wrap-up www.slmqg.com/