I am a sucker for a fabric challenge. I’m already participating in three this year, and there are certainly more to come. I love the process of trying to channel the spirit of a fabric collection into an appropriate quilt design. And the fact that challenges have due dates? Well, let’s just say that deadlines are my friends.
I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the details of the Modern Quilt Guild‘s Riley Blake challenge to be announced last October. I started coming up with design ideas the minute I knew the challenge would focus on Riley Blake‘s Basics designs, but it wasn’t until I had the fabrics in my hot little hands that inspiration really hit.
I really wanted to come up with a design that would stay true to the different character of each of the prints. Almost every print had traditional roots but was modernized by its palette, and so I started thinking about other objects that blend traditional forms with modern finishes. The fantastic styles of eyeglass frames that are available these days seemed like a natural fit. The yellow polka dots would work perfectly with a pair of fifties-style cat’s eye glasses, while the classic yet kitschy navy gingham would be ideally highlighted by a pair of chunky horn rims. Of course, the name for the quilt followed quickly on the heels of the initial idea–how better to title it than a nod to those in our modern society who embrace all things vintage and throwback–the hipsters. Once I settled on the title, the inclusion of an ironic mustache was a must (and a perfect use for the medium grey solid that was included in our challenge fabrics).
It was fun trying to match each fabric print to a style of eyeglasses. There were a couple of prints included in the group that I knew wouldn’t work for this type of appliqué shape because they had too much white space to read well against a white background. I switched those out for a couple new prints–an orange herringbone and a lime green ombre. I just love that I was able to use an ombre for the aviator glasses, because it reminds me of the gradient lenses that are so characteristic of that frame style.
The quilt ended up being 57″ by 70″, and I scaled the appliqués as large as I could fit on the fat eighths that we were given to work with. I quilted it with paired diagonal lines. I decided not to quilt inside the “lenses” of the glasses, which I think reinforces the illusion that the frames are filled with glass.
For the back, I was excited to find a perfect light-value chevron that incorporated the perfect shades of orange, yellow, and green. It’s from Riley Blake’s Ashbury Heights collection by Doohickey Designs; don’t you absolutely love the vintage telephones on the selvages?
I love pairing backing fabrics with my quilt tops, but I also feel the need to include swatches of the fabrics from the top itself. The tiny scraps that were left over from the appliqués lent themselves perfectly to a color-bar style row of squares.
I have to admit, I’m a little in love with the finished quilt. I love the bold appearance of the appliqués against the expansive white background, the ways that the eyeglass frames form a cohesive group but also individually fit with their particular fabric patterns, and the texture that the diagonal straight line quilting give the finished product. (And, it’s the perfect size to curl up under for a nap, which I needed after staying up all night to bind it in time for our St. Louis Modern Quilt Guild meeting last Saturday! And, as an aside, can I just say how lucky I am to belong to such a talented and enthusiastic group?)
Thanks for reading, and thanks for all of your input about my new blog series on Printing Patterns. I hope to have another installment up for you this week, plus check back next Monday for my stop the blog tour for fellow applique quilter Jenifer Dick’s Modern Applique Workbook!! Have a great week!
Edited to Add: I’ve been thinking about making this quilt into a PDF pattern! Leave me a comment if you’d be interested in purchasing such a pattern!