Friday, May 24, 2013

Big Yellow Taxi and My Foray into Modern Quilting

It's not that I've stopped cooking (exactly); rather, I've been cooking old favorites or eating salads and other light meals. Since I haven't posted any recipes in two weeks, I thought I'd blog about what I've been doing with the time usually spent in the kitchen.

Last week I took a workshop with Rayna Gillman, a fabric artist known for her free form quilts. Anyone who knows me will tell you I'm not a "fly by the seat of my pants" type of person. While crazy quilting may seem to have fewer rules than sane quilting, that is not the case. And while I am comfortable not following patterns and seeing where my own designs will lead, free form quilts and/or modern quilts are not genres that fall within my comfort zone. That said, I actually ended up enjoying the process.

Rayna had suggested that we bring orphan blocks and strips of fabric in a multitude of hues. My quilting friends and I turned up with bags, boxes, and piles of fabric (probably enough fabric to make several very large quilts and there were only about 15 of us).  I chose a pieced block, an extra from a year-long color study course I'd taken and a foundation pieced block I'd made when I was experimenting with that technique. Having listened to Rayna's suggestion that we include black and white fabrics in our stash, I began cutting and piecing and cutting some more. At one point, I had 4 free form blocks which I ultimately decided to square up and piece together. This produced a 9 inch block which cried out for a thin, yellow border. As soon as I made that decision, the lyrics to Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" started running through my head. That yellow border (and those lyrics) lead me to the black and white checkered fabric and my outside border.

I hung the finished piece on my design wall and stared at it for the next few days, but my original idea to quilt it in gold metallic thread won out over several other ideas. Understand that I am brand new to free motion quilting. I recently took Leah Day's class on Craftsy and she has fanned the flame of interest in FMQ. In fact, be sure to check her blog to see what others are doing on FMQ Friday. After several trial runs on my trusty muslin sandwich, I decided it was now or never and just did it. A few ripped out lines of quilting and one broken needle later, I was done. It took me approximately 3 hours to quilt. I did some simple wavy lines, horizontal and vertical on the block itself. I quilted a chain of pearls in the thin, yellow border. And in the black and white checkered border, I quilted spirals.

To finish the quilt, I applied a facing. All that remains is to add a label. I'm calling the quilt "Big Yellow Taxi" and, though it's far from perfect, I will admit that I'm rather pleased with the results.


  1. Love your quilt! It looks like artwork from a modern museum. Your quilting complements the fabric perfectly! Love it!

  2. See! You did it! Now it's time to move on to getting that peacock quilted :) From all the workshop pics I've seen, it looks like it was a fun workshop. Wish I had taken it.

  3. This posting caught my attention right away this morning! I finished my first quilt almost a year ago. It was definitely a quilting from the heart project. It was a project that my mother has started about 30 years ago with my sister, embroidering on each block. Over the years, the task of putting all the blocks was started but never completely finished. I found the project in the back of a closet while visiting my mother two years ago and kidnapped it. With the help of an aunt who is skilled in quilting, I began my "first quilting project". I LOVED DOING IT, and when Mom came to visit last spring, I wrapped the quilt it up and gave it to her as her birthday/Mother's Day gift. She was shocked and thrilled.

    I have not quilted in almost a year since finishing the project, but am anxious to start again. I would love it if I could find some quilting classes/workshops in my neighborhood. I know how to handquilt. I would now like to learn the basics of piecing.

    Anyway, LOVE YOUR quilt! It's amazing and definitely catches the eye and holds it.

  4. I think you were very successful with your first free form quilt! And though there may be differences I think it still references the crazy quilts you love.

  5. How fun to try something out of your comfort zone. It turned out really well!

  6. Thank you, everyone! It's wonderful to finish a piece so soon after making it :)

  7. Hi Arlene,
    Thank you for visiting my blog and for becoming a follower as that has enabled me to follow the trail back to your blog where I am your newest follower :)
    Your quilt is stunning - love the quilting you did on it.
    I absolutely love your blog header. It makes me feel hungry just looking at it.
    I'm looking forward to going back through the older entries when I have time.

  8. I like your new blog design, Arlene--it loads on my screen much faster than your old one.

    Your quilt is very bright and colorful. I love the name you chose for it!


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